2008 - %3, May

GOP to Minority Candidates: Thanks, We're Not Interested

| Tue May 20, 2008 12:18 PM EDT

Respecting our gay brothers and sisters means you have "San Francisco values." I wonder what kind of values you have when you don't respect blacks, Hispanics, or Asians. Politico:

Just a few years after the Republican Party launched a highly publicized diversity effort, the GOP is heading into the 2008 election without a single minority candidate with a plausible chance of winning a campaign for the House, the Senate or governor....
At the start of the Bush years, the Republican National Committee — in tandem with the White House — vowed to usher in a new era of GOP minority outreach. As George W. Bush winds down his presidency, Republicans are now on the verge of going six — and probably more — years without an African-American governor, senator or House member.
That's the longest such streak since the 1980s.
Republicans will have only one minority governor, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, an Indian-American, when the dust settles on the '08 elections. Democrats have three minority governors and 43 African-American members of Congress, including one — Illinois Sen. Barack Obama — who is their likely presidential nominee. Democrats also have several challengers in winnable House races who are either black or Hispanic.

Only four black Republicans have been elected to Congress since Reconstruction. Sounds like they'll be on the wrong side of history in a few decades.

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"San Francisco Values" Makes Another Appearance

| Tue May 20, 2008 12:06 PM EDT

Run for your lives, there are ethnic men in cowboy hats dancing with two women at the same time! You know what that means!

Kay Barnes may look like a perfectly nice woman (and an effective mayor of Kansas City to boot!), but don't be fooled. Sam Graves knows she loves teh gay.

Update: Does anyone else feel like they found these dancers by putting out a casting call for Black Eyed Peas look-a-likes?

Operation Get a Grip

| Tue May 20, 2008 11:53 AM EDT

OK, I've gotten another cup of coffee, and almost feel the strength to deconstruct this piece of lousy journalism.

1) This is the Jerusalem Post quoting Israel Army Radio, e.g. they didn't even report it themselves.

2) It's not only second hand in terms of one media outlet citing another; it's third hand in terms of sourcing, and all anonymous at that. The Jerusalem Post is citing Israel Army Radio which is quoting an unnamed Israeli official quoting an -- again unnamed -- "senior member of Bush's entourage" which includes a universe of people that could be say the spouse of a businessperson who was part of the delegation. Almost certainly not a government official and almost certainly not someone informed about policy deliberations. Something in the realm of idle gossip.

3) If all that didn't, this line should give you pause: "However, the official continued, 'the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice' was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic, for the time being." In other words, while according to fourth hand anonymous sources Bush and Cheney believe force may be necessary, they are prevented from acting by the Secretaries of Defense and State. To begin with, Bush gets to override his cabinet heads when he wants to. Secondly, this is a line that essentially negates the first part of the story.

Lobbying Problems Force McCain to Put Straight Talk on Hold

| Tue May 20, 2008 11:08 AM EDT

In light of the continued pressure John McCain is facing to rid his staff of lobbyists and former lobbyists, the normally gregarious candidate is experiencing a fresh conversion to message discipline. From a press conference he held with reporters yesterday:

Question: What was the impetus for the new lobbying policy?

Film Review: Medicine For Melancholy

| Mon May 19, 2008 9:45 PM EDT

melancholy-250x200.jpgRacial identity, gentrification, and indie rock frame Barry Jenkins' breakthrough film, Medicine for Melancholy; a sweet, provocative, and sometimes redundant film about two hip, African American twentysomethings who spend one full day together in San Francisco after hooking up at a party the night before.

San Francisco has been the backdrop for a ton of moviesVertigo, Bullitt, the Towering Inferno, 48 Hours, So I Married an Axe Murderer—but in Jenkins' film, the city's giant hills, bustling city streets, museums, renters-rights debates, and indie music actually shape the story's narrative. As the two main characters walk up and down hills, ride their bikes downtown, attend exhibits, walk past an open-door neighborhood town-hall meeting, and get drunk at a mostly white hipster bar, locales actually help focus and shape conversation.

Jenkins' "medicine"—constructive debate, the excitement of meeting someone new—for "melancholy"—struggling to understand and define racial and cultural identity—can feel a little forced. Arguments between the two main characters sometimes fizzle and come to no conclusion or consensus. But this frequently funny, often endearing look at life in San Francisco will serve as a worthwhile time capsule for the City by the Bay, and many of its complexities.

Medicine For Melancholy screened at SXSW in Austin in March, and more recently at the San Francisco International Film Festival. It will screen in Los Angeles June 19.

Music: Compare and Contrast: Portishead vs. SCTV

| Mon May 19, 2008 8:22 PM EDT

mojo-photo-mojo.jpgOkay, I know I've been talking a lot about the Portishead album, which I love more and more with each passing second. But while my adoration for Third is nearly boundless, I'm not blind to its more, shall we say, "mockable" aspects. Case in point: listening to track two, "Hunter," today, I was suddenly reminded of another piece of music that it resembles. A long-buried German cabaret number? An obscure album track from the soundtrack to an early Bond film? Norwegian funeral dirges? No, no, no: "Hunter" seems to have borrowed its dramatic piano melody and swerving chord changes from the theme to SCTV's brilliant soap opera parody, "The Days of the Week." After the jump, compare and contrast for yourselves. Hmm, maybe we should also be looking for hidden references to "The Great White North," or perhaps the organ sounds came from Tex and Edna Boil's Organ Emporium?

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New (Leaked) Music: Ladytron - Velocifero

| Mon May 19, 2008 6:48 PM EDT

mojo-photo-ladytronv.jpgLadytron have always been kind of sneaky. They're better than they should be, with a far-from-unique formula of vaguely out-of-date electronica and breathy female vocals, plus a name that seems culled from Barbarella or something. Yet each of the foursome's three albums so far, starting with their 2001 debut, 604, has risen above generic retro-futurism or pretentious glam-techno, utilizing a diverse stylistic palette as well as an wry playfulness (witness their cover of Tweet's "Oops (Oh My)"). Plus, they just write really good, catchy songs: "Seventeen," "Destroy Everything You Touch," and "Playgirl" could all take on the best Depeche Mode songs in an electro battle of the bands. Most intriguingly, they seem to have gotten better with every album; does Velocifero, out next month, continue the Tron's evolution?

Clinton Camp Flaming Her Supporter's Sense that Obama's Win Is Unfair?

| Mon May 19, 2008 4:47 PM EDT

Even though Hillary Clinton is campaigning onward, a key question for her is how gracious a loser she can be. How she handles what seems to be her pending defeat could affect Barack Obama's prospects in the fall and her own future political career, especially if Obama is defeated by John McCain in the fall. Regarding the former, much media attention has been showered on the possibility that many Clinton voters are so mad-as-hell that they won't vote for Obama in November. On Monday, The Washington Post front-paged a piece on PO'ed women who support Clinton and suggested that some of these voters will choose John McCain rather than vote for the guy who dashed Clinton's glass-ceiling-breaking dreams.

For Clinton, a test will be what she does to mitigate the anger of her followers and lead them into Obama-land. Right now, she appears to be putting off this challenge until after the primaries end of June 3. Which is fine. But her campaign does seems content until then to flame her voters' sense of being aggrieved.

Declaring Victory? Bad Idea, Obama

| Mon May 19, 2008 4:43 PM EDT

Barack Obama reportedly is not heading to Des Moines tomorrow to declare victory in his race against Hillary Clinton. After the North Carolina and Indiana primaries on May 6, an unnamed Obama staffer pointed to the Kentucky and Oregon primaries slated for tomorrow night. "On May 20," he said, "we're going to declare victory." Now, the Obama camp is taking a milder approach.

That said, Obama doesn't have to actually declare victory for the impression to be delivered. After all, he's speaking in Des Moines, site of his victory in the Iowa caucuses four and a half months ago. The campaign has come full circle, is the obvious suggestion. The campaign started here and it ends here.

It's too late for the site of the event to be changed, but there's still time for me to insist, in agreement with Dana Goldstein, that this is a bad idea. The Clinton campaign has legions of supporters who feel their candidate is being unfairly pushed out of the race by the media and, to a lesser extent, the Obama campaign. Why lend (even more?) credence to their complaints? These are Democrats that Obama will need in the fall. He should avoid alienating them at all costs.

Montana and South Dakota, the final primaries, are June 3. Obama can't wait 15 days?

How Female Military Pilots Spell Relief

| Mon May 19, 2008 3:46 PM EDT

As an armchair historian, I'm always scouring for info on how chicks in the Old West etc. went to the bathroom and dealt with their periods in all that long sleeved, flowing train, Texas-heat get-up. As a sci-fi geek, I'm always frustrated not to know how the Star Trekkers went (will go?) potty in the 24th century and whether periods were ever conquered before the Cylons invaded Earth. Well, I still don't know the answer to these questions (though I can't wait for you commenters to tell me how stupid I am) but I know how US military pilots did until recently. (With great difficulty, especially chicks). CNN:

"Piddle packs"—heavy-duty bags containing absorbent sponges—have been blamed for at least two crashes over the years, and they're not always tidy.
...When nature's call becomes too pressing to ignore, a pilot has to fly and unbuckle the harness at the same time—while using both hands to maneuver around in a seat to which he or she is virtually molded.
The aerobatic maneuver is even harder for female pilots.