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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Dang, Sorry Bobby Jindal…

Posted by samgr on February 25, 2009

So, to be fair, I did think Bobby Jindal’s speech last night was pretty bad. He sounded condescending and dumb, and there was no substance to what he said.

BUT… does he really deserve the pounding he’s getting now, from liberal and conservative commentators? What did they expect? He sounded stupid, but no stupider than, say, Richard Shelby has been sounding for the past several weeks. Or Mark Sanford, or whoever. And to me he sounded a good deal more sensible than Bush ever did.

I don’t get it exactly. Did all the Republicans just expect he would somehow save them from themselves in this one silly speech, and then feel betrayed when he didn’t? Maybe this is like the Fred Thompson situation. GOP unhappy with prospects, GOP sees someone new, SAVIOR, MESSIAH! Oh wait, the messiah is sleepy. Never mind. In this case, everyone gets all hyped up: hurrah, we have our own charismatic brown-skinned policy wonk now! Oh wait, he has no ideas, just like all the rest of us, and he talks like Mr. Rogers. Never mind.

I feel bad for him.


Posted in politics | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Superman is a Democrat, Batman is a Republican

Posted by samgr on October 5, 2008

Superman is the son of immigrants, and was raised by a middle-class family in rural Kansas. He works as a journalist uncovering abuses of power. He believes in progressive values and is fiercely patriotic — driven by belief in truth, justice, and the American way. He cooperates with US law enforcement and criminal justice systems, and believes in the right to a fair trial. He avoids violence unless it is absolutely necessary.

Batman is a vigilante who believes that his position as a member of the American plutocracy allows him to work outside of the system. He is a billionaire who has been surrounded by luxury and opulence all his life, and has never had to work to support himself. He is motivated primarily by his belief in the power of fear. He uses violence and torture to achieve his goals, is answerable to no one, and considers himself better equipped than anyone else to determine a suspect’s innocence or guilt. He considers the legal system an impediment to bringing offenders to justice.

UPDATE:  Embarassing mistake: Superman of course IS an immigrant, is not the son of immigrants.

Posted in politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sarah Palin? Really?

Posted by samgr on August 30, 2008


So my new job is as a freelance producer at On Point over at WBUR. We’ve obviously been doing a lot of political coverage. And yesterday the senior editor and the news analyst were talking about how brilliant a pick Sarah Palin is for the McCain campaign.

I am seriously skeptical, though. To me it just seems like desperation. I would bet money that they had pretty much settled on Mitt before the “how many houses do I have” thing intervened and they had to scramble for someone who isn’t richer than Howard Hughes.

And while Sarah Palin seems like an interesting and possibly friendly person, I did not get a lot of instant charisma coming off of her. She mentioned that she started off in her school’s PTA, and I just couldn’t shake off that image of her. The pushy mom in the PTA who always brings cupcakes, puts down the other parents, and is possibly secretly racist and/or gay. I’m pretty sure she’s a character in like a hundred movies, and Sarah Palin talking like she’s straight out of “Fargo” doesn’t help to dispel that. Possibly this reaction is just me being latently sexist, but I don’t know

And on that note, if I was a woman I would be insulted by Palin’s implication that she will scoop up Hillary voters. It implies that Hillary’s supporters are so stupid that they would vote for someone who doesn’t even believe in allowing abortions in cases of rape or incest, SIMPLY because she is a woman. I certainly hope that kind of angling backfires.

And if Joe Biden doesn’t make the obvious, “I know Hillary Clinton… and you’re no Hillary Clinton,” joke in the debates I’ll be disappointed.

It’s just weird, this woman apparently didn’t even have a passport until last year. And she’s supposed to be ready to take over the presidency?

Posted in Election 2008, John McCain, politics, Sarah Palin | 1 Comment »

Huma Abedin = Tory Foster

Posted by samgr on May 29, 2008

I’m sure someone has pointed this out, but aside from the well-established “John McCain looks like Saul Tigh” link, Hillary Clinton’s chief aide Huma Abedin looks a heck of a lot like Laura Roslin’s chief aide Tory Foster. Do the research yourself; it’s all there. SPOILER: Huma Abedin is a cylon.

Posted in Battlestar Galactica, Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, politics, space, television, Tory Foster | 2 Comments »

Maureen Dowd Doesn’t Get It

Posted by samgr on March 31, 2008

From Maureen Dowd’s column yesterday:

Obama, like the preternaturally gifted young heroes in mythical tales, is still learning to channel his force. He can ensorcell when he has to, and he has viral appeal. Who else could alchemize a nuanced 40-minute speech on race into must-see YouTube viewing for 20-year-olds?

Gah, say I. You don’t need the Force, you just need not to be full of shit. Obama’s race speech was not widely viewed on YouTube because of mysterious magic youthy sex appeal, it was widely viewed because Obama wasn’t bullshitting. He acknowledged complexities and refused to reduce everything to black and white, in a way that OTHER POLITICIANS AREN’T DOING. To reduce this to “alchemy” or “the Force” is idiotic, and diminishes both Obama and the 20-year-olds that Dowd is claiming to understand. The “YouTube generation” (or whatever) isn’t stupid, or, more accurately, is no more stupid than everyone else in the world.

I used to like Maureen Dowd, but perpetual cattiness is hard to take, paired with her weird propensity to constantly toss out as many cultural references as possible in every single column.


Posted in Maureen Dowd, Obama, politics | 4 Comments »

The Weekly Toast

Posted by samgr on March 21, 2007

So this is a project my friend Cailin is doing at work, but, among other things, it includes me being awesome.

Posted in news, politics, videos | Leave a Comment »

Space Speech Analysis

Posted by samgr on March 8, 2007

Again, from my internship. Space has accidentally become my beat over there.

Bushes in Space

Posted in language, Open Source, politics, space | Leave a Comment »

Old Books and Strong Oaths

Posted by samgr on January 6, 2007

Why is it 70 degrees out on January 6th in Massachusetts? I’m basically ok with it, but how about this guy?

Polar Bear

Anyway, thanks to the spate of political inaugurations we just went through, a couple of stories have surfaced having to do with one of the props that has often played a supporting role in the pomp surrounding the assumption of power: the Bible.

First, Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts took his oath of office on the Mendi Bible, a Bible that was given to John Quincy Adams by the Amistad mutineers in gratitude for his arguing (and winning) their case before the US Supreme Court. I went to Patrick’s inauguration on the Common, and he mentioned this in his speech. It was an interesting piece of symbolism, linking the occasionally starchy-seeming history of Massachusetts with African American history and Patrick’s own life story. Of course, since it was a Bible, Christianity is presumably mixed up in there somewhere too.

In the same vein — and more widely covered in the national media — is the fact that Keith Ellison, America’s first Muslim congressman, took his oath of office on a Koran rather than a Bible. Sort of. Actually, despite all of the furor that this has caused, the actual oath is apparently taken at the same time as all of the other congressmen, and the book in question is only used for a photo op afterwards. In any case, Virginia congressman Virgil Goode attacked Mr. Ellison’s choice, claiming that it was a threat to America’s Christian heritage. Congressman Goode also somehow linked this point to an argument against illegal immigration, which is confusing considering that Congressman Ellison was born in Detroit.

What ended up happening is that Congressman Ellison used a copy of the Koran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson. This was another nice piece of symbolism and a reasonably effective retort to Congressman Goode’s blind bigotry.

I don’t have a whole lot to say about all of this, but clearly books are important even when they’re not being read, since they’re very good at acting as ways to link people and ideas from different historical eras. What do people think about this? In these cases, does it even matter that these are books, rather than other kinds of objects? Are the Bibles and Korans being used at these events any different from religious symbols that aren’t books: crosses or prayer shawls or kirpans? And of course, is this whole business of taking the oath on a religious text obsolete anyway, or, for that matter, actively against the principle of separation of church and state? Is this pageantry useful and meaningful, or just archaic?

Some Huffington Post bloggers have produced some interesting posts about this. David Kuo argues that America’s real holy texts are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (and reminds us about Article VI, Section 3). Patt Morrison asks why we can’t just pick any book? I wonder if we have to have actually read it. You could impress a lot of people as a real sophisticate by swearing in on Finnegan’s Wake, for instance. Although possibly not Virgil Goode.

I guess what I’m getting down to is that it would probably make everything simpler if we abandoned the whole book idea and went back to the way the ancients did it: swearing oaths while holding our own testicles (sadly not actually true).

Posted in books, politics, religion | 2 Comments »