Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Follies: Snakes on a Plane Edition

So I'm most of the way through drafting a Friday Follies about Unions and the NFL.  And then I see this video (caution: there is swearing - obviously, if you've read the title):

...And just like that, I decided to change my post.

Now it's about funny viral videos from this election.  I picked the funniest five I could find.  So send the kids or your boss in the other room.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Amazing Race (-Baiting)

"I think the way liberals have treated blacks like children and many of their policies have been harmful to blacks, at least they got the beneficiary group right," Coulter said. "There is the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow laws. We don't owe the homeless. We don't owe feminists. We don't owe women who are desirous of having abortions or gays who want to get married to one another. That's what civil rights has become for much of the left."

"Immigrant rights are not civil rights?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"No," Coulter responded, "No. I think civil rights are for blacks. What have we done to the immigrants? We owe black people something. We have a legacy of slavery. Immigrants haven't even been in this country."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What's Going On Here?

A bunch of stories lately have got me asking, What's Going On Here?  So I wanted to share them with you...

1. Businesses Fire Pregnant Ladies, Pregnant Ladies Take Aim:

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) was introduced last Friday.

Nur Suryani

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Election Math

So here we are, it's September 24th.  There are 42 days left until the election.  Where are we?  What calculus will determine who wins the election?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Follies-Presidential Death Match

Sometimes presidential campaigns can seem like life or death, but in the United States at least, it doesn't ever really come to that.  However, I recently saw this link on one of my friend's Facebook wall, and I was intrigued.  Sort of like the old Superman v. Batman question, only with presidents.

In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How Mitt Can Get His Groove Back

As Emily noted yesterday, Mitt Romney's campaign appears to be foundering, much earlier in the election cycle than normal. The polls generally agree that Mitt is following further behind. In purely anecdotal ways I can also tell that many people feel that defeat for the Republicans is nigh. My conservative friends and family have stopped posting about the presidential race on Facebook. In some cases they have given up talking about the election until after it is already over. In contrast, most of my more liberal friends have been in full political frenzy, sharing posts, photos, and writing screeds for Obama. Even some of my less politically engaged liberal friends have been doing this. So the outlook seems gloomy for Mitt. But I think it is very premature for Obama supporters to start celebrating a victory party quite yet. Mitt still isn't that far behind in some polls. And given the nature of politics in the United States, he still has plenty of time for a comeback. Follow me below the fold to see how Mitt can still win this thing...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Curious Campaign of Willard Mitt Romney

Stevens and Romney

Process stories have become a really big deal in political reporting.  So much so that if you watched the main cable channels covering the political conventions, a large part of the "analysis" of speeches and presented material was based on process - not policy or fact.  Everything was about "will this help him?" and "did he do what he needed to do tonight?"  My favorite line was from Wolf Blitzer on Paul Ryan's RNC speech, who said something to the effect of "well, there are several places where the fact-checkers will want to complain, but it was a great speech."  (For those who don't care for paraphrasing, here's the quote.)  As if the delivery and extent to which Ryan managed to fool people with half-truths or evasions was more important than talking about those half-truths and evasions.  As if "fact-checking"were separate from the "news analysis."

But sometimes, there actually IS a process story that is important.

Monday, September 17, 2012

6 Reasons Why Southern Pride Sucks

I live in the state of Virginia, home  of the Confederacy, birthplace of Robert E. Lee, which still, in 2012, celebrates Lee-Jackson Day. Virginia has monuments and memorials of Confederate officers scattered throughout the state, as well as several high schools named after prominent Confederates, and at this point, I barely spare it a thought.  However, today I was reading an article about how in Selma, Alabama, there is widespread outrage about plans to restore the monument on Nathan Bedford Forrest's grave site.  Many people believe that the monument honors a war criminal, racist, and is offensive to the large black population of the area.  Supporters of restoring the monument point to the history of the monument, the tourism dollars, and rather than the war criminal claims, think that Forrest was a war hero and mastermind.  Supporters stake their claim on "Southern Pride."  As I think about the term "Southern Pride", as it is currently being used, I can't help but feel the term totally sucks, for several different reasons.  Follow me below the fold to find out why...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Follies: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Badass

Really, really smart people - and I'm talking about more than high SATs here, more like your Einsteins or Hawkings - are worth a listen.  It's possible that there are more really, really smart people who exist, than the few who become famous.  But of the group of people who become famous for being really, really smart (and therefore are not only really, really smart, but also manage to be both functional and communicate those smarts well), Neil deGrasse Tyson is one who is fun to listen to.  And sometimes he talks about things that touch on the political.

So since there were no fun memes to explore this evening, I decided to indulge myself in listening to some of what Neil deGrasse Tyson had to say, and sharing some of the most interesting of those things with you.  Fair warning: he sometimes comes off as arrogant.  But that's because he's often smarter than everyone he's talking to, and I imagine that builds the ego a bit.  He's still interesting and thinks slightly differently than conventional wisdom (i.e. what more regular smart people think).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Simply the Breasts

To the presses!  This story has boobs!

Working parent has a kid who normally goes to child care during the day.  For whatever reason, the child care falls through, and parent brings kid into work with them.  A completely unexceptional story, repeated thousands of times across America every day, correct?  A minor annoyance to the co-workers, and management usually turns a blind eye. But what if this working parent had, gasp!, breasts, and used them to feed her child?  While. At. Work!!!!??  Well that changes everything, and now the story is completely newsworthy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Empathy and Politics: See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me

I've been thinking a lot about empathy lately.

The subtext of this campaign seems - to me - to be about empathy, in two ways.

1. Empathy and Likability.

Yes, empathy is often considered a girly emotion (in a dismissive way), but I'm going to posit that what pollsters are testing when they talk about "likability" is actually largely a measure of a candidate's actual or perceived ability to empathize with other people.

Take Bubba.

Classic, textbook empath.  He "feels your pain."  He could read a phone book and sound interesting because he would stop and tell you stories about the people and businesses as he read their names and addresses.   

Scandals that would fell other politicians barely leave a dent on Bubba.  People get mad at him for his policies or actions, he says stupid things on occasion, but in the end he pulls out a speech or an interview and most people remember why they like him.  He understands people.  He understands how to explain complex policies to people, he understands what people are thinking.  He's empathic. 

(Grammatical note: I'm using "empathic" differently than "empathetic," because of the extra meaning of empathic to describe a person who "is very in tune with the feelings of others," rather than "of or related to empathy" - for which I'll use "empathetic.")

And that quality leads to large likability numbers, which rebound after an appropriate time whenever he faces criticism.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Episode V: The Teachers Strike Back

Normae Rae
Americans lately have seen the resurgence of the mass movement protest.  Once happily relegated to black and white news reels from the 60's, with protests in Wisconsin, the Occupy Movement scattered throughout cities all over the country, and now the teacher strike in Chicago, collective protest seems to be on the rise.  What is causing the increase in these movements? Should teachers have the right to strike?  What recourse should teachers have when working conditions suffer, contracts are broken, and neither political party is really willing to address teacher issues?  

Monday, September 10, 2012

If Karl Rove Were a Democrat: 5 Fake Ads and 1 Punt

So you may have noticed that Karl Rove is a Republican.  And also that he has a special kind of genius for running aggressive, fairly-unethical, but also fairly effective ad campaigns.  He's trying to do that right now - for a SuperPAC he runs, called Crossroads GPS.  They run ads like this one:

Let's take a look at the words on the one, lasting image from this ad:

Get it?  "Arab" on one side, "Lazy" on the other, and the we've got "Luck, Headwinds, and Control..."

Now that's subtle, Karl.  Right up there with the "Rats" ad.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Follies-Taste the Obama Rainbow

Obama gave a very stirring keynote address  where he made the case for why he should be given another 4 years.  See the speech below:

The best part of the speech for me was this:

We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system – the greatest engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known.

But we also believe in something called citizenship – a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.

Obama has been the source of many memes over the course of his presidency.  Follow me below the fold as we examine the many pro- and anti-Obama memes floating around the internet.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Lady Vanquishes


Michelle Obama gave a stirring speech last night.  The speech was very well received, and centered on her humble roots, The First Couple's financial struggles early on in their marriage,  and her love for her husband, President Barack Obama. The best line for me was:

Well, today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn't change who you are -- it reveals who you are.

See the speech below.


Seeing the First Lady up there at the podium swelled my hardened little heart, as I remembered the rocky road that Michelle Obama has endured to get to where she is, and the (racialized) insults that she still endures today.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mitt Went to Tampa and All I Got Was this Stupid Empty Chair

What did we learn last week?

Yes, Paul Ryan got up there and just, well, lied/fibbed/bamboozled/what-have-you.  And it seems like some of the press realized that, which is refreshing.  Even Fox joined in.  But Ryan is not the point.  Then Clint Eastwood yelled at a chair.  Which was seriously uncomfortable to watch, because he seemed a bit out of it at times.  But Eastwood is not the point.  The point is larger, and potentially more disturbing.

Monday, September 3, 2012