Sunday, August 31, 2008

palin: not a maverick!

this was funny (in a piece on the GOP possibly cutting back its convention):
As to Palin's lack of national security experience, Cindy McCain said, "Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. So, it's not as if she doesn't understand what's at stake here. It's also about making decisions and be targeted in what she thinks. She has a great mind. And she has a very serious direction in where she goes."

Also defending McCain's running mate choice was Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, passed over by McCain for the No. 2 spot. He called Palin "a maverick with a record of reform."

1. Proximity does not translate into knowledge.
2. Do people know what 'maverick' means?

For the undecideds who are flirting with voting for a McCain/Palin ticket because you think they're somehow not as problematic as Bush (or any other Republican) or an improvement over Obama/Biden on the issues, here's how her image as 'maverick' (i.e., a lone dissenter who takes an independant stance apart from her associates) stacks up to her Rovian image on the issues:

Reproductive Justice: "I am pro-life and I believe that marriage should only be between and man and a woman." (her campaign website, 2006)

The Economy: She's looks like a budget bulldog and balanced Alaka's budget while Governor.

Crime & Punishment: she's pro-death penalty and her goal as governor was to beef up law enforcement

Civil Rights: she doesn't think gays and lesbians need them

Education: pro-No Child Left Behind; school accountability; building a strong work ethic in students; early child care education

Energy (she's on the record most about this): suspend AK 8-cent fuel tax for one year. (Aug 2008); Gasline Inducement Act: 1,715-mile natural gas pipeline. (Aug 2008); Commercialize Alaska's North Slope natural gas. (Aug 2008); Agrees with Obama on more Alaska oil & gas production. (Aug 2008); Windfall oil profits tax prevents investment. (Aug 2008); Lift moratorium on offshore drilling. (Jul 2008); Convinced McCain to drill offshore; not yet on drilling ANWR. (Jul 2008); Unlock ANWR; we're ready, willing and able to contribute. (Jun 2008); Fully fund for the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office. (Feb 2008); $250M for proven alternative energy, including wind & hydro. (Jan 2008); Gas pipelines are approved if they meet Alaska's needs. (Jan 2008); National energy policy not an either/or proposition. (Nov 2007); Fund cellulosic biofuel research in Farm Bill. (Oct 2007); Submitted legislation to build natural AGIA gas pipeline. (Mar 2007); Stranded Gas Development Act no longer applies. (Nov 2006); Get ANWR open. (Nov 2006)

The Environment: Sue US government to stop listing polar bear as endangered. (Aug 2008); We must encourage timber, mining, drilling, & fishing. (Jan 2008); Provide stability in regulations for developers. (Jan 2007); Convince the rest of the nation to open ANWR. (Jan 2007)

Health Care: Health care must be market-and business-driven. (Jan 2008); Take personal responsibility for personal health & all areas. (Jan 2008); Doctors should manage health care, not bureaucracies. (Jan 2008); Personal responsibility & choices key to good health. (Jan 2008); Flexibility in government regulations to allow competition. (Nov 2006)

Homeland Security/War: Armed forces, including my son, give us security and freedom. (Jan 2008); Visits Kuwait; encourages Alaska big game hunting to troops. (Sep 2007); Promote from within, in Alaska's National Guard. (Nov 2006)

Here's the GOP platform, which the Family Rights Council calls the most conservative, pro-family, and pro-life platform in history (you can see the full draft here):

Immigration: calls outright for English to be recognized as official language; thrws out any hope for amnesty; defines immigration as a national security issue (Palin does not seem to have any position on immigration - yet. How much you think she's going to veer away from this plank?)

The Environment/Energy: the platform weakly acknowledges there is some 'warming effect' in carbon emissions but also cautions against 'doomsday' scenarios 'peddled' by 'aficionados' of a centralized control/spend gov't (I guess that would be us. We're aficionados. Can't you just see the sneer?) It also calls for offshore drilling and avoids mentioning ANWR.

The War: interestingly, the GOP appears nearly to avoid any mention of Iraq - only aying that national security is the first priority of gov't and shouldn't be micromanaged by a platform or Congress (or aficionados, either, I expect.)

Social Issues: women, gays and lesbians get thrown under the bus again and there's the de facto protest against stem cell research. Yup. That's as much social issues as you get with the GOP. Nothing about poverty, healthcare, economic empowerment, equal pay - nothing. Just abortions and gays.

Do you really think Palin, an evangelical Christian, is going to oppose any of these positions?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

picking palin: maybe not so crazy after all

the Democratic Strategist has given me pause about the Palin pick. his reasons why Palin is more than a bizarro attempt to woo female voters:
But what I saw in Dayton was (1) the "maverick" GOP presidential candidate introducing his "maverick" running mate, although Palin, even more than McCain, is actually a conservative ideologue whose selection thrilled both cultural and economic factions of the Right; (2) a direct appeal by Palin to HRC supporters to consummate Hillary's campaign by shattering the splintered "glass ceiling;" (3) a compelling personal story of a woman who (a) has one son with Down's Syndrome, (b) another who is being deployed to Iraq on September 11; (c) is married to a Native American (at least technically) union worker and athlete; and (d) has bravely defied her party and oil companies in Alaska.

yesterday i thought that Palin would be unappetizing to testosterone-obssessed GOPers but her conservative creds are solid: anti-choice, anti-gay, fiscal conservative, believes global warming is fiction, wants to teach Creationism in schools, dedicated evangelical - no wonder ralph reed loves her. (which should have been my first clue!!)

so what's a dem to do?
i'd say leave the gender thing alone. we're too far along to keep playing these identity politics games.

yes yes yes - she's a chick. but so what? her gender is incidental to her regressive social and political beliefs. but more importantly, she's a chick who believes in all the things that tanked this country for the last 8 years. rip the mask of her so-called 'freshness' and 'maverick' status and frame her this way: she's a good-looking theocrat who wants to turn the clock back, basically a george bush in a skirt. we've done bush before, remember?

it should be really interesting to see the Dems in conflict with their desire to win and their unwillingness to be the bully.

Friday, August 29, 2008

ohh, that's trump! McCain picks running mate

It's a girl!

ooh, way to trump the Friday news cycle, gramps (thus endangering any post convention bounce Obama's camp might receive)!

Sarah Palin...what do we know about her?

Background Information
Gender: Female
Family: Husband, Todd
5 Children: Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, Trig.
Birth Date: 02/11/1964
Birthplace: Sandpoint, ID
Home City: Wasilla, AK

(no religion?! how can she call herself an American??)

BA, Communications/Journalism, University of Idaho, 1987.

Professional Experience:

Political Experience:
Governor, Alaska, 2006-present
Former President, Alaska Conference of Mayors
Former Mayor/Manager, Wasilla City
Former Council Member, Wasilla City Council.

Member, Alaska Miners Association
Member, Alaska Outdoor Council
Member, Alaska Resource Development Council
Member, Chambers of Commerce (Various)
Member, Iditarod Parent-Teacher Association
Member, National Rifle Association
Member, Valley Hospital Association Board
Coach/Hockey Team Manager, Valley Youth Sports
Member, Youth Court Steering Committee
Former Member, American Management Association
Former Member, Salvation Army Board.

Caucuses/Non-Legislative Committees:
Chairman, Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 2003-2004
Former Member, Alaska Municipal League Board
Chair, Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission
Vice Chair, National Governors Association Natural Resources Committee.

Her record? Check out what Project Vote Smart has collected here.

Compare this 'bright shining star in the Republican firmament' to McCain on women's issues, economic empowerment issues and, other progressive issues (gay rights? racial justice?) and compare her to Bush on these things, too.

Good thing? Bad thing?

LeBlanc has this to say over at Bitch, PhD.:
I want you to hammer Sarah Palin on this stuff. If I were you, or if I were a reporter, or anyone who had a loud voice, today I would ask Sarah Palin the question:

If you were elected vice-president, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act came before the Senate once again, and the vote was tied, and you were called upon in your constitutionally-mandated role as tie-breaker, how would you vote? Would you, like me, vote that when women are denied equal pay for equal work, they should get restitution, or would you, like John McCain, vote that a Supreme Court decision making it nearly impossible for them to receive that restitution, should stand?

Don't let her get away with the "I'm a woman, of course I care about women" bullshit. Make her answer for the hypocrisy of her party.

This is the identity politics election sweepstakes, folks.
Who's feeling some conflict?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DNC 08: 'putting Barney Smith over Smith Barney'

nice one, barney. and how hilarious is the whole stadium chanting 'barney! barney! barney!'

i'm watching this on a slight dvr delay with Roomie and have to admit these 'voices of the people' are probably the best thing ever. i mean, the little latina woman who got an entire stadium of people to yell 'si, se puede'? awesome! and the pam lady who switched parties? loved how droll she was. other highlights: al gore and eisenhower's granddaughter.

(roomie has expressed love for dicky durbin. i've always thought of him as a smart little turtle. but i, too, must admit that durbin is a favorite of mine.)

my hopes for this speech: make it hard and make it aggressive and about policy and differentiation. go on the attack! punch them in the political groin!

and who called the voiceover for the obama video? i did! david strathairn! yes. these are the important things that roomie and i ponder while on the couch. if we had our own cable show, this is the quality of discourse you'd hear.

my heart just leapt a little when he accepted the nomination.

ok, he just 'addressed' HRC as an inspiration to his daughters and ours. enough to clear the bitterness? hm.

is he going after mccain? will he do a good a job as kerry in delineating himself from mccain? 'mccain doesn't get it.' is it strong enough?

'mccain won't even follow bin laden to the cave where he lives.' um, is that a snap?

the stuff about tactics and strategy worked for me. if the media doesn't get it, they're disingenuous and ass-hatty.

'it's not about me; it's about you.' nice and and easy target for the mccain camp.

'it is what is unseen' that keeps people coming to these shores - faith, people. faith in american promise.

nicely done. no political groin punch but now i feel bad for wanting one. see what you do to me, obama? you make me regret my violence!

asshat: this guy and whoever listens to him

Listen Up, Females. This Man Is Talking. -

It's so early in the morning I can't bear it, but here's a piece of this guy's wonderfulness:

'the cover [of his book] is eye-catching: a man towers over two black women sitting in desks (those awful ones from high school with the wooden writing surface attached to the spindly metal chair, remember?) with the book's title, "The Re-Education of the Female," scrawled on a chalkboard. The "students" are listening in rapt attention. This must be every man's dream.


Read his book, ladies, and you can snag a catch just like him. Your responsibilities include cooking, staying skinny, wearing sexy things around the house and doing whatever your man tells you to do'

You know who I want to thank for giving me indigestion so early in the morning?
Prof. Lee, who emailed this to me.

Thanks, sir! Thank you very much.

Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC 08: it's the pundits turn. sigh.

Word from Bitch PhD is that Wolf Blitzer is tiny. I can totally see that. He has the large, elvish head of a tiny man.

Anyway, the incredibly disingenuous dude on MSNBC asks Rep. Patrick Kennedy why Michelle Obama's story was so necessary to convey to the voters. (Roll of eyes.) Why isn't he asking a black person why this story is necessary? Because a smart black person would tell him: "Well, MSNBC dude, it's because, for centuries, you folks haven't seemed to grasp the fact that we're Americans just like you."

10.22 pm - Chris Matthews asks Michelle Bernard, as another tall woman, what she thinks about Michelle Obama's speech. Yeah, Chris - that's the entry point for Michelle Bernard to this speech. Her height. What an asshat Chris Matthews is.

DNC 08!: it's Michelle's turn! (or, The Last Idealist)

9.23 pm - the Michelle Obama intro. OMG. I am a total sucker for a romance story.

(Grrr! I'm kicking myself a little bit. I totally could have met Michelle Obama this week through a professional connection. Dangit!)

Though the bio was just as slick as any other, it was a good piece to counter claims of 'uppity-ness' or 'elitism.' I really don't get it. You can put Michelle Obama next to Cindy McCain and, yet, we're supposed to believe that Cindy McCain is 'of the people' while Obama lives in the rarefied airs of the elite. What a topsy turvy world our pundits and political strategists have created for us.

(Incidentally, I wonder if the convention's soundtrack would be available on iTunes. It kicks ass.)

Ahh. 'Looking down on' vs 'looking over.' Nicely done. (Believable? Maybe.)

What I'm hearing in her speech is the same narrative that I, and other people of color like me, have lived. It's familiar to us. It's a narrative, however, that mainstream America still cannot believe about communities of color; like the Mark Penns of this country, mainstream America can't grasp the fact that black, brown or non-white people have the same American dream as they and that they have lived by that dream and hoped for the day when their lives as full Americans will be acknowledged.

I was saying to a friend today that people of color are the last idealists in this country. Fundamentally, we believe - despite the slights and the snubs and the daily presence of racism - that the Great American Story of fairness, hard work and reward for that hard work still has the possibility to exist. Oh, we can be disappointed; daily, we are disappointed. But we still believe in it and we believe in the application of fairness. This is our creed: If the world works one way for some people, we want the world to work the same way for the rest of us.

What could be more American than that?

That's what her speech has done - it has subtly re-established Black Americans as citizens of this country, the Mark Penns of this country be damned.

Go 'head on with your bad self, Michelle Obama.

DNC 08!: ignoring the TV people

8.06 pm - Shorter David Gergen: 'Waah! It's boring! Entertain us!'

Who knew that the real purpose of the convention was to entertain the TV people? Glad he straightened that out for me.

This, fundamentally, is the problem with pundits and why I prefer the unexpurgated feed. They see this whole political process as a source of entertainment, rather than a process that has real material impact on ordinary people. This convention is a show for them, a piece of political choreography that's being judged for its impact on them, if it plays to them, instead of if it matters to us.

Frakking smug bastards.

8.14 pm - they just can't stop showing the awkward dancing, can they? If Gergen was looking for a unified theme, this would be it: progressives might be wonky but they can't dance.

But Roomie and I will say this about the CNN coverage - it's chock full of useful trivia. Stats on gay, black and latino delegates and a rolling schedule of the night's events. How very new media. It's like they almost know what Twitter is. Or someone remembered what Pop Up Video was.

8.18 pm - Caroline Kennedy, hammering home the point that the programs ordinary Americans use and depend on exist because of Ted Kennedy. Good point.

8.30 pm - Roomie just said that Ted Kennedy looks like Mrs. Doubtfire. Sigh.

8.45 pm - Miguel del Valle. What I really want: a whole speech in Spanish. Wouldn't that just freak out Joe Scarborough?

(taking a brief convention break to send an email finalizing a coffee date.)

DNC 08!: live blogging after dinner

7.44 pm - Jesse Jackson, Jr. Very nice opening with the mountain top thing. And it's not in iambic pentameter. Very nice, indeed. I'm thrilled that he's speaking instead of his dad (and I'm wondering how his bid for Obama's Senate seat will go, if he goes that way.)

"Illinois is America. America, we need you to be with Barack Obama!" Nice.

And a good, strong close from the IL Congressman - and a Lenny Kravitz rocker, 'Going My Way'! Niice.

DNC 08!: live blogging after dinner

7.31 pm - don't you love Jimmy Carter? I do. Wait. He's not speaking? Roomie just said, 'Did he collapse??'

DNC 08!: live blogging while cooking dinner, pt 2

6.51 pm - Wow. The dancing. Go on with your bad selves, delegates. You know, about the music, it's almost like Obama's trying to send us a message: 'Rock Steady,' 'Respect,' 'No one,' 'September.' What could be next? 'Play that Funky Music White Boy?'

6.58 pm - ok, weird panel. gotta check the carbonara.

7.08 pm - mmm, carbonara. pancetta. and nancy pelosi! that's a nice phrase she used to describe her career - 'from the kitchen to the Congress.'

7.12 pm - Roomie just described the set design as very 'Newlywed Game.' I couldn't agree more.

7.15 pm - granted, the Democratic congress did some good things - but it would've been nice to see it hold the line on some things.

DNC 08!: live blogging while cooking dinner

Roomie was made uncomfortable by the live feed of un-rhythmic liberals grooving to the live soul band so now we're trying to find something else to look at.

And about that live band - kudos to the convention organizers for hipping America to soul music. (roll of eyes) I guess it's better than Fleetwood Mac.

Boy that John Legend is a cutie. And is it universal that gospel choirs code for Hope? It's just a question.

Ok, I gotta get back to my carbonara. But first - hey, you think Michelle Obama is going to lose her composure tonight and call someone whitey?

DNC08! Who's covering what?

You may or may not know that I now write for Bitch, PhD. Well, my sister Bitches got press credentials for the convention (I coulda been there with them but, eh, my travel schedule didn't work out.) But they have a plan for covering this historic convention and they're sticking with it! Check in with them for juicy tidbits, their trademark biting academic snark and for critical thinking skills that turn stupidity into wet toilet paper. (Did that make sense?)

Jack & Jill Politics - they are one of a 'could have been bigger' coterie of bloggers of color credentialed for the convention and they have a really neat convention coverage page. Get all your brown political coverage here - with additional links to other bloggers of color at the convention, too.

So far, this is where I'm going for my convention information.

Drop links if you have other sources!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Of VPs, Dates and Being the Other

First things first: Biden as Obama's VP pick.

I am not bothered by this.
I think it's brilliant, funny and totally expected. In fact, earlier this week, I called it while emailing with some friends. Friends called it for Bayh, Schweitzer and Webb but I went for Biden.

My reasoning:
As evidenced by an ample Google record, Biden has a long history of saying problematic shit re: people of color. I will not offer an opinion on Biden's racist tendencies - I'm just saying he says problematic shit.

The things he says are not that substantially different from what 98% of the general white population, conservative or self-identifying liberal, say/think about people of color in general, black people in particular. So, in effect, Biden is familiar to most of the population. He's easily recognizable; he is our American mirror.

By choosing Biden, the Obama campaign is saying to America, 'See? I get you. I know you're scared, but it's ok. Joe is just like you, and I like him! I'm not mad.' By signaling to the electorate that they're overlooking Biden's 'off the reservation' problematic racial shit, they are asking that we also overlook some things - primarily, the color of Obama's skin and all the weight it carries.

Yeah, yeah. Biden brings some bizarro 'connection' to 'everyday' people (pundits need to STFU) and foreign policy experience which is a good thing, but his biggest contribution to the Obama campaign is his whiteness. His benign, problematic, clueless whiteness. It's a gift and I hope Obama uses it well.

So I had a date today. Will there be a second? Just wait until the end of the story.

We went to the MCA for the Koons exhibit (which he didn't like at all because it had naked ladies and girly bits in it) and then talked for a bit on the patio while a wedding dinner was arranged. Our conversation, which I will spare you, reminded me of something a friend sent me from a Doctor Who recap:

In broad terms, the entire process of anima development in a male is about the male subject opening up to emotionality, and thus broader spirituality, by creating new paradigms as he encounters/projects new forms of femininity. The first is Eve, the Maiden: the emergence of the object of desire; has the troubling habit of simultaneously generalizing all females as evil and powerless. If you haven't met a guy stuck in this place... Well, trust me. You have. I don't know what else to say.

The second is Helen, as in Helen of Troy. In this phase, women are viewed as capable of worldly success and of being self-reliant, intelligent and insightful, even if not altogether virtuous. This second phase is meant to show a strong (untempered) schism in external talents but still lacking internal qualities (inability for virtue, lacking faith or imagination). You want the key to boys? This is it. Halfway through the rubric, and they're still not convinced women have an internal sense of ethics. Welcome to being the Other, if you hadn't noticed yet.

Brother Dude was stuck in Phase 2.

He asks me if I am looking for marriage.
I say, Not particularly.

He asks why.
I say, truthfully, that I don't think marriage particularly benefits me.

He asks me to explain.
I explain how the cultural construct of marriage is irrelevant to me and, frankly, I just don't see the social, financial or physical benefit for me. I've thought of this often and I've thought carefully about it; it's not a position I take casually.

His reaction? He says I must have suffered some kind of personal, abusive trauma to make me adopt such extreme ideas.

I explain that there has been no trauma, no abuse. These are my personal set of values and I'm sticking by them - because they're my values, you smug bastard, I thought.

He then called me inflexible and leaned back, saying that I'd change my mind.

A man telling me I don't know my own mind and I'll change it is a freaking red flag for me. He made me want to take my soda straw and plunge it into his frakking jugular.

The idea of a woman having real ideas and actually living by them is somehow stunning, apparently. Men are allowed to have Grand Theories and Values, but women aren't? This man is in his mid-30s; if he doesn't understand by now that there are women out here who actually live our lives according to our individual principles and ethics (which aren't ever up for approval by some dude) then he's not a guy I need to be around.

So, no. There won't be a second date for him. Smug bastard.

Friday, August 22, 2008

movin' on up

Alpa Chino: That's the theme song for the Jeffersons!
Kirk Lazarus: Just because it's a theme song doesn't make it any less true.

- Tropic Thunder

Say hello to the new Government Relations Officer at Large Metropolitan Chicago Non Profit.

That almost makes up for not joining my sister Bitches at the convention next week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

huh. i just realized i broke my august moratorium on all things racial.
see what you made me do, Problematic Academic Paper??

Monday, August 18, 2008

'those mulattoes sure are tragic'

Good lord. (via Racialicious, where I cribbed the title of this post - and you can read the original paper here.)

There is something to be said against reading half-assed academic crap in the morning before your coffee. Not only will you get gas, you will also want to take out your copy of Freakonomics and burn it at your desk in protest.

This paper might very well be a paragon of statistical analysis but, from a racial justice POV, this is what I find problematic about it:

The question - 'What's it like to grow up with one white parent and one black?' First, what value system is underlying this question? What impact will answering this question have if not to make us multiracial/biracial folks even more Other, or to pathologize interracial marriage or parents? And why this concentration on just black/white when biracial identity is so much more varied and complex? If we take their conclusions, on average, life for biracial kids pretty much sucks. How nice we're good to look at.

The sample of self-identifying biracial kids - extremely small. And then the overall study was 'informed' by conversations with a small focus group of 9 self-identifying biracial undergrads. Wha-huh?? And no one in this group said that this shit was problematic? That seems weird to me.

The survey - part of the big problem I have is with the negative behaviors that are coded 'black' and 'white.' Apparently, bad black kids are 'at risk' for sex and violence and white kids are 'at risk' for drinking and smoking. Mixed kids, the study concludes, take on both bad black and white behaviors. Nice way to codify some really problematic sterotypes and pass this off as value neutrality.

Numbers aren't without some kind of ideological underpinning. At one point the paper asserts 'For example, fighting is one aspect of behavior more associated with blacks than whites.' Really? By whom? School administrators? Is it more associated with blacks or is it that school fighting is punished more when the participants are black?

(see here for sources on race, equity and school discipline - as well as here and here.)

The conclusions - what's really interesting and frustrating is that the researchers try to overlay some kind of social or economic theory over their findings (1. black/white kids live in similar, fatherless homes like the average black kid, 2. black/white kids are middling academics, 3. but they sure are cute, and 4. they act out both black and white at risk behaviors) but end up saying "it is not obvious what type of economic model can reconcile the patterns in the data, particularly their especially bad behavior."

And the big red flag for me: Any study that links the social construct of race to 'bad' behavior, which negatively impacts people of color.

So economic theory can't provide any cover so where do they go to next? Here:
If we had to pick an explanation that best fits the facts, it would be the old sociology model of mixed-race individuals as the “marginal man”: not part of either racial group and therefore torn by inner conflict.

It sounds to me like some folks took a weekend to watch Imitation of Life and got all inspired.

I have a problem with the fact that the best theory they can come up with is something from 1928, not really a time known for solid, rigorous racial theory. And I have a problem that the basis for this bogus marginal man theory is the 'tragic mulatto' - hysterical, self-hating, sexually promiscuous (or easily compromised because they're just so desperate for affection), prone to criminality, alcoholism, and suicide.

Basically the Tragic Mulatto is fucked up - think Mariah Carey pre-Mimi or read Clotel and try not to gag - and that's what this paper is saying, ultimately. Roland Fryer, who I'm assuming is the primary author, may be an unapologetic voice on racial inequity who just follows where the data leads but his data goes to a place I would have thought we left behind.

Friday, August 15, 2008

on dating and hobos

prepare for a whiny, 'woe is me' mini-rant on the travails of dating while in your late 30s. 'travail' might be too strong. dating is no hardship (not compared to strategizing how to help launch a statewide legislative campaign) but it's not exactly filling me with light and joy. instead, what i feel is something akin to gas.

at this point in my life i'm thinking that celibacy might be the new black.


The Girl and the Hobo (as told to me by Roomie):

Roomie: So I'm waiting for my chiropractor and the door opens and this woman walks out. She's in a suit, pretty, very Lincoln Park lawyer type. So he opens the door and he's giggling and he says, 'Hurry up hurry up.' So I get on the table and he starts working on me and he's laughing so much I say what's up?

He says, 'So you saw that woman who just left? She comes into my office and the first thing she says to me is 'Oh my god. I fucked a hobo last night!''

Ding: Shut up! She fucked a hobo?!

Roomie: Oh, yeah. Apparently, she was at Friar Tucks -

Ding: Well, there you go. Friar Tucks is disgusting. No wonder she fucked a hobo. That's where they hang out! When I lived up there, we used to call it Tired Fucks.

Roomie: (snort) Tired Fucks! Classic. Anyway, she got plowed and woke up the next morning, naked, at her place, next to this guy.

Ding: Shut up!

Roomie: Wait for it. She wakes up and the guy is like, Hey, can I hang out She says, No fucking way! I'm taking a shower, going to work and I'll drop you off at your place. So they get in her car and - he gave her the address to the homeless shelter in Uptown!! She saw him get in the breakfast line!

Ding: Girl, no.

Roomie: Uh-huh. Fucked a hobo. She told Dr. X she thought he was a surfer!!

Ding/Roomie: Bwa ha ha ha ha!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Front-Runner’s Fall: the Clinton Campaign memos

The Front-Runner’s Fall

If you haven't read the piece in The Atlantic about the internal workings of the Clinton campaign, you really should. Oh, not because it gives you a little thrill to have all your bad feelings against the Clinton campaign reaffirmed (if that was your wont) but because of what you can learn about basic lessons of management.

For me, especially if I put myself back in the strategic communications firm I worked in a few years ago, the story of the campaign's implosion was a textbook lesson of what happens when an organization A) fails to ensure proper values and strategy alignment among its teams, B) doesn't address bad information flow and C) lacks trust.

Not to sound all Fast Company, but values and strategic alignment is the glue that holds an organization together. In corporate speak, it's what folks talk about when they say they're 'on the same page.' Folks in suits talk a lot about 'being on the same page' but there is usually a big gap between where the Leader says they are and what folks on the frontline see. Say what you will about the GOP, in every single one of the candidates they run, values and strategy go hand in hand.

In the Clinton campaign's case, HRC and her staff seemed to come from totally different directions: Penn wanting to go immediately negative (which I'll note later), other key staff resisting, the Leader being conspicuously absent from the final decision. Did HRC really believe that BO was 'un-American'? I seriously doubt that. Yet, what made Penn think she'd be open to that? What values gap existed between them?

(And sharing the same goal does not mean people share the same values.)

My biggest takeaway from the piece was how important information flow is to any successful campaign (not just political campaigns, either.) The memos reveal how information was plugged, or viewed with distrust, at various points. Information on budgets, tactics, shifting electoral landscape - all, at some point, went ignored by key people after being floated 'up' or 'across' the organization from people on the frontline. As a result, the leader was left without the tools she needed to do the work she needed to do. Does this kind of isolation make a leader trust her team or does this make her assume more responsibility because she can't trust her team to do what it needs to do to deliver? And, in return, does a team look at their leader's withdrawal and respond positively or panic, withholding bad news and leading to more distrust?

High performing teams don't have these issues; they see and act (quickly) through the same goggles, acting with flexibility to good and bad environmental factors; ideas are evaluated on their value-addedness (is this idea going to enhance our mission and vision, stretch it or take us outside of it?); high performing teams act with autonomy but there's always an honest touchstone with leadership, marked by free flowing communication.

If only someone on Clinton's staff had read a few issues of the Harvard Business Review.
Reading the Atlantic piece, I was riveted. Reading Penn's memos where he suggested highlighting Obama's Otherness and 'un-American-ness,' I thought, 'Wow, he actually said it.' If we take his suggestion and pair it with his note that the campaign was trying to 'neutralize' race as a major factor, then we get a picture of a man with his head very far up his ass. You want to take 'race' out of the picture but you don't mind telling a whole bunch of black and brown people that a man of color is un-American.

Talk about problematic - and talk about an opportunity for the Dems to ask themselves if that kind of strategic thinking reflects the values of their party.

This piece also makes me hope the Obama camp will be careful of values/strategy misalignment, mission and vision creep, or perceptions thereof. (In other words, no more FISA or offshore drilling shit!) But I'm almost positive Obama reads the HBR. Right?

Monday, August 11, 2008

asshat, special infidelity edition: john edwards

You heard me. John Edwards is an asshat.

What kind of asshat runs for President knowing his adulterous shit is probably going to be made public, very very soon? And what would this asshat have done if, by a miracle, he had nabbed the nomination?

What kind of asshat gets his ass caught by the National Enquirer?
(OJ Simpson, you say? Touche.)

What kind of asshat still has an affair with a campaign aide?
(At least try for something different - a lonely, blind schoolteacher from Fresno who fears she'll never know the heat of passion, or something.)

For that matter, what kind of asshat still has affairs?

(Dear political dudes, have you learned nothing from Bill, Eliot or the scads of other political dudes who've been caught ball walking? For the love of the citizenry, develop a chemical addiction or something. We will readily forgive a big ol' pipe smoking meth head over a guy who cheats on his cancer-stricken wife!)

Then again, we get the asshats we deserve. After all, what country still insists their public officials live like virgins?

So there you go. John Edwards, asshat.

ChurchGal: the Olympics, the Other and Orientalism

From my other blog, ChurchGal, a post is up on 'the Olympics, the Other and Orientalism':

I love the Olympics. Not for sports - I could care less, frankly, though I enjoy watching the more obscure things, like fencing. I like the Olympics because the nationalism is just so immensely wrong and amusing.

Friday, my friends and I made up a drinking game during the Beijing opening ceremonies. For kicks, and because we are students of the problematic ways our media covers other countries during the Olympics, we made a list of things that might be said or shown during NBC coverage of the games that might be a little problematic or just drive us nuts.

We weren't disappointed. You can catch the rest of my post over here.

the agony of the feet

What a weekend.

Friday: left work early (hello, summer hours), went to see a friend's condo I was thinking of renting (my bed won't fit in the bedroom so it's off my list), and on the bus ride back to my 'hood, got caught up in the most absurd email thread with girl friends who were coming over to celebrate Roomie's birthday and watch the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Games.

Giddily, we devised a drinking game but our mockery of the U.S. Orientalist coverage of the Games was too dead-on.

(Not only did we predict many mentions and camera shots of the Forbidden City, the use of the word 'ancient' and the imputation of Chinese 'inscrutability,' we also predicted the following exchange:
'Well, you know, Jim, the Chinese invented paper and the printing press.'
'As well as gunpowder, Bob.'
We howled.)

Within a half hour of the ceremonies, we were plowed. By the end of the ceremonies we were - well, I can't even remember what we were. (If you haven't seen the ceremonies, you should. It'll blow your mind. "And how do they do it? They do it with PEOPLE!!" Awesome.)

Saturday: a day of recovery.

Sunday: early morning tennis with Roomie and then more recovery while reading comic books.

Happy Olympics, folks.

2nd most favorite Olympic ceremony moment:

NBC Chinese 'expert': And this is the Chinese character for 'harmony,' which will be a repeating theme tonight of these Games. What's so ironic and interesting is how there are so many disharmonious things about Chinese culture and life - the environment, human rights. So it's really, you know, an ideal.

Ding: Yeah, sorta like our ideal of, you know, democracy.

Friday, August 08, 2008


just in case i ever get too full of myself i can always count on the universe to keep me in check:

Ding (texting Boy): hey, you busy tomorrow night?
Boy: Who?
Ding: Just thought if you weren't busy you'd be up for hanging out.
Boy: When?
Boy: Who r u?


Thursday, August 07, 2008

asshat, international edition: Russia!

I was totally going to just keep on working but a pal sent me this: Sexual harrassment okay as it ensures humans breed, Russian judge rules - Telegraph

What. The. Hell.
There are no words to describe the frakked-up-ness of this news item.

Choice bits:

The unnamed executive, a 22-year-old from St Petersburg, had been hoping to become only the third woman in Russia's history to bring a successful sexual harassment action against a male employer.

The judge said he threw out the case not through lack of evidence but because the employer had acted gallantly rather than criminally.

"If we had no sexual harassment we would have no children," the judge ruled.
Who knew the word 'Please?' could mitigate patriarchy? And where the hell did that judge get his law degree? A cereal box?

I could make a joke about mail order brides here, but I won't because it's just too messed up.
Sorry, poppets.
Ding has a job and is workin' it. Hard.

Monday, August 04, 2008

on patriarchy, Lolla and my 'build'

Patriarchy: My alter-ego,ChurchGal, has a post up on LaVena Johnson and sexual assault in the military, which has been a story I've been tracking for a bit. It's depressing but something needs to be done about it. Please visit and read.

Lollapalooza: Great show on Saturday; Roomie and I sat, sunburned, ate and tried to put off peeing as long as possible. Devotchka was fun, Jamie Liddel had a weird set (beat boxing? really??), Booka Shade sounded like a lot of fun, Brand New was meh, Sharon Jones was fabulous, and Broken Social Scene was teh awesome. Where to party your ass off? Perry's tent. Man, I wished I was young again, under a disco ball. Instead, I rocked gently to the electronic beats while standing next to two hot, strapping CPD officers who also loved the music. I was really surprised at how civilized and clean everything was. If every music festival could be this organized I'd go all the time. Note to self: next time, bring a whole packet of baby wipes.

My 'build': So my life insurance has told me that my policy needed to be adjusted because of my 'build.' My 'build' is dictating that I need to lose 15 pounds; my 'build' will be reevaluated in 6 months or so. But they reassured me that others with my 'build' have gone on to living quite happy and healthy lives. (Thanks, 'build!') While grocery shopping with Roomie, she reminded me that Weigh Watchers ice cream bars are 0 pts for my 'build.' Heh. My 'build' is happy with that.