In Which I Try To Figure Out How I Feel About Cory Booker
If you don’t follow @CoryBooker on Twitter, you should. Booker is the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, one of the many cities that has been buried by the recent blizzard. He has been going around with snow plow crews, personally helping dig people out, shovel driveways, deliver diapers and food to people still blocked in, etc. People send him messages telling him this street or that street are still un-plowed, or that this old person can’t get out of the house and that young woman needs diapers for her infant, etc. You can see his response after the break.
I love Jon Stewart. I think he and his staff are funny, talented, funny, passionate, smart, and funny. And I have heard him claim, again and again, that he is NOT, repeat, NOT a journalist. In pretty much every interview the guy does, he argues that he’s not a journalist. Until his big show on the 9/11 responders bill, I agreed. But that show changed things. He may still be able to make the argument that this was an anomaly, and that he is primarily a comedian. That may be true, or at least there’s a pretty good argument for it, but there is no way he can say with a straight face that he is “just a comedian.”
I’ve heard Stewart give the “editorial cartoon” analogy before, and I think it’s a good one. Basically the idea is that you can’t really come to him for the news, because he doesn’t tell you the news. He just comments on the news, and you have to have a basic idea of what’s going on in order to understand the show. I think that’s true. I also think it’s true that sure, while he definitely does occasionally make points on The Daily Show, the points he makes are in service of his comedy, not the other way around. Usually, it seems clear that he and his staff don’t say, “Okay, here’s the point we want to make - what jokes can we tell to communicate this point?” Instead, they say, “Oh, this is funny!” Making any kind of comment or point regarding public policy, politics, or cable TV was only incidental to their comedic intent.
That was very clearly not the case of the 9/11 first responders show. From the first moment of that show, it was very clear: Jon Stewart was mad. Very mad. And he was going to use his show to explain why. Yes, there were jokes, but they were there in service of the point he was making, and that I think, is what made this show stand out so much.
Now, the fact that he was clearly making a point does NOT make him Murrow. Not even close. Yes, there are similarities - both saw something they didn’t like and engaged in advocacy journalism to point it out. But to say that Stewart is first and foremost a newsman, as Murrow was, is wildly inaccurate. Most of the time Stewart is first and foremost a comedian. However, when your comedy covers topics important to your fellow citizens, to the world, your country, and most particularly yourself, you are obviously invested in what you are talking about, that means there is some natural crossover between the comedy and the thesis.
“The defense could have proposed that it’s never normal or sane to believe you’re the prophet of God…But the defense did not go there, perhaps because the judge and most of the jury and most of the people outside the courtroom were Mormons and would have been deeply offended.”—Scott Carrier on the trial of the Utah man recently convicted of abducting Elizabeth Smart: an inside look at the mystical religious fervor that grips many Americans…and took center stage in Smart’s case. (via motherjones)
I love Scott Carrier on This American Life, and he’s great here too.
An Open Letter to the Driver of the Expedition That Almost Hit Me Today
I recognize that you have a big car. A huge car, as a matter of fact, and that you can definitely plow through more snow than I can in my little Toyota. I also recognize that you likely have inferiority issues, as evidenced by the Bush 04 sticker, the “I’m-Mad-As-Hell” Paladino sticker, and the girls in bikinis sticker.
I ask, however, that you remember this: the city of Buffalo has about $3 to pay for snow plows, and thus when snow is falling like the Dickens, that snow is likely to remain on the streets. In fact, if you just tilt your head forward a bit to look out your window, you can see that icy sheet covering the roads.
I realize that your Expedition can plow through some amount of snow. However, you will not be able to drive through two and a half feet of snow. I don’t care how manly you feel or how much you are trying to compensate for something, you will not be able to go through that snow.
And if you do, your wheels will start spinning. When you start to reverse, your SUV will hit the icy road. You will then start sliding, and being a gigantic SUV, you will pick up a lot of inertia and slide faster and faster, sliding out if control. You will then slide towards me and the trafficking victim and young children in my car, causing me to feel pretty damn sure that you are about to hit me, and then I will swerve to avoid hitting you, and then slide into a four foot snow drift. I will then have to get out of the car and dig myself out in sub-zero temperatures, dressed in my business clothes.
You, on the other hand, will regain control of your vehicle, swerve back into the right lane, and go about your merry way. You will see me in your rear mirror, wave your hand in apology, but rather than get out and help, you will drive on.
Now that I have finally thawed out and had some coffee (ok, with Bailey’s), I am no longer spitting-bullets angry at you. Now I am just mildly irked.
I want to leave you with this, good sir: don’t try to drive through huge snow drifts. You will fail, and one day, you will hurt yourself or someone else.
Happy Holidays, you full-of-yourself, overcompensating, overconfident, not-helpful, SUV-driving jackass.
Me:*grabs several handfuls of single-serve cream from Wilson Farms*
Me:(unnecessarily) I'm getting cream.
Clerk:I can see that. A lot of cream.
Me:Look, I work at the International Institute, in the Victim Services Department, where we serve victims of human trafficking. That means we spend our days trying to help people who have been abused and traumatized, kept as slaves, and it is exhausting. And coffee helps, so we have a coffee pot. But we are out of cream. I am a member of AmeriCorps, which means I make less than minimum wage, less than you, and I do not want to buy more cream, so... so I just want to take some of these.
Me:Sorry. Been one of those days, you know?
Clerk:Wait here. *goes in back, then returns, holding a huge box of single-serving creamers*
“This isn’t like racial integration in that you’re moving massive amounts of personnel around. All it really means is that you stop kicking out gay people: that you let them serve. There’s already gay people, in other words, in these militaries. It’s about whether you allow it, whether you acknowledge it and whether you allow gay and lesbian people to be honest.”—Historian Nathaniel Frank, on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, on NPR’s Fresh Air 12/7/10 (via nprfreshair)
Also, even if repealing DADT would mean a couple late nights, weekend work, and cranky meetings, I wouldn’t give a damn. Sorry if giving people their civil rights is going to be work, people!
But it isn’t even going to be hard work. So repeal it already.
She attends a private Catholic all-girls high school just outside of Boston, near where my family lives. Actually a pretty liberal school, but the administration just refused some kids the right to start a gay/straight alliance club.
A monitor from the Massachusetts Public Schools has been visiting the school over the past week or two, to make sure the school is living up to its accreditation. While in my sister’s biology class, the monitor asked her teacher if she’d heard about this issue, and why the students had been denied. My sister heard this question, and answered loudly from the back of the room, “Because the people who run this school are fascists.”
While I am of course glad troops don’t appear to care much if we repeal DADT, I really don’t care what they think on this issue. How would it have been if Lincoln had said, “Oh, I know we should integrate the army, but what if racist former slave holders don’t like fighting alongside black people?” If you are a member of the United States Armed Forces and do not want gay people to be able to serve openly, I salute, honor, and appreciate your service, but your discomfort with gay colleagues is not a sufficient reason to ban them from serving honestly. The attitudes and feelings of the majority, i.e. heterosexuals, do not - or at least should not - determine the rights and privileges of a minority.
This report will make a repeal easier to get through Congress, which makes me happy, but really, it should not matter which way the results swung.