Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Back From Nowhere

Loyal (all three) readers...here, an update!

Journalism grad school applications: They're done! In the end, I applied to Berkeley, City University of New York, Columbia, Texas and Medill (Northwestern). I suspect that I'll start to get "yea" or "nay" letters in late March/early April. As I've said throughout the process, I've got no expectations about what will happen here; I could end up being rejected by all five (or six if I apply to either American or Maryland) or I could get into all of them (not bloody likely), or I could end up getting into one or two and then end up with a decision to make. All that is down the road, though, so, as this point, I'm just glad I actually went through the process. I should also thank the wonderful and beautiful REF (and her dad), Rubes, a certain Miami Hurricane and mom (hi mom!) for proofing the many versions of my admissions essays and for their support and advice.

Professionally: Things are in a (mostly) positive state of flux. Due to some personnel shifts, starting in early February, I'll be the acting Alumni Relations Officer handling Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. It's going to be quite the boost to my work load, but it should give me some great opportunity for growth. Faculty speaker events in Boston and Washington, D.C. are on the agenda for the spring, so some travel might be on the docket.

Politically: Can I just say fuck it and get it over with? I've grown increasingly disappointed with the race to the bottom that the Democratic primary has become. Like a great many people, I'm quite enamored with Barack Obama's campaign, but I am worried. The last few weeks have been, in a word, dispiriting. The increasingly nasty racial attacks being hurled at Obama by Clinton surrogates, the twisting of words by the Clinton campaign...it sickens me, doubly because I used to have a pretty deep reservoir of support for Bill and Hillary. I should also say Obama hasn't been completely clean in this, and I am equally disturbed by that.

I started writing this post originally on January 24, and obviously a lot's changed since then. Obama trounced Clinton in South Carolina last Saturday, and followed up on Sunday by getting a strong endorsement from Caroline Kennedy (JFK's daughter). He kicked this week of with a big coup, securing the endorsement of liberal icon (and JFK's brother), Ted. The race and gender phase of the campaign seems to have died down, but this kind of dirty pool from the Clinton's isn't going to help should Hillary win the nomination and she is in a position where she has to court Obama's supporters.

So, while my mood is much improved from last week, it's still an uphill battle for the Obama campaign. A week from today is "Super Tuesday". 22 states will either hold a primary or caucus. Clinton holds sizable leads in delegate rich states (including my adopted home of California) but maybe Obama can ride out the big wave that he's caught. The excitement around his campaign, no, movement, is palpable. Like Buffalo Springfield sang, "something's happening here". Or, since I already was heading toward a surfing reference, I'll let the immortal Bodhi say it best:

"But look at it Johnny. Look at it! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, man. Just let me out there, let me get one wave before you take me. One wave".

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How Did Obama Win in Iowa?

Contrary to popular belief, independents didn't push him over the top. Liberals did.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I Reply in Comment Sections

As has been the way of things lately, he's a long post by eriposte at The Left Coaster attacking Barack Obama for "running to the right" of the Democratic field in Iowa.

Rather than excerpt the parts of the post I disagreed with, I posted in the comments over there.. Here's what I said:


I don't even know what to say about this post. I mean, it's been well thought out for sure, but I disagree with virtually all of it.

I think that, in Iowa, Obama has to run a little DLC'ish (if by that one means running a centrist campaign) because of the general conservative tilt of the state (if Edwards wins this week, then it will definitely have proven to be the wrong strategy). Since the Democratic front runners are generally close in their stances, one has to distinguish him or herself in some manner, and Edwards has done so by running left and Obama is doing so by running right. However, if you look at Obama's past and voting records to this point, it seems pretty clear that he's a progressive (certainly more so than Hillary and probably more so than Edwards, who has only become a netroots darling since leaving elected office and being freed from the accountability that being a U.S. senator demands).

I think what Obama might be able to do in the general is being played out in Iowa; lots of progressives are freting because they think Obama is eager to attack Dems and speak like a Republican. Well, if speaking like a Republican in a conservative state peels some independents and light Republicans into the Democratic party tent, then I think that's a good thing...more people in the tent. It's clear from his background that Obama knows he will get attacked for a variety of things and I think it speaks to the vanity of the lot of the netroots that they think he can't see what's coming. Do the (mostly white progressive bloggers) think that an African-American man (even one with the credentials that Obama has) thinks he's going to have smooth sailing against the Republicans? Please. You might not like him, but the man isn't dumb and he isn't naive. Which, of course, goes to the other things lots of netrooters don't like, which is Obama's rhetoric. He certainly speaks in lofty tones and I generally agree that partisanship is needed to keep people interested in politics...but we also have to recognize that the netroots and the Republican media machine are perhaps not representative of our larger society. There are millions of Americans who, I would bet, have never heard of Atrois or Digby. Those are the Americans for whom politics probably only really matters during a presidential election year and perhaps when they have matters of local import to vote on. Otherwise, politics may not make up a significant portion of their identity. They are, by definition, "loose partisans" and I think Obama is appealing to those people with his "post-partisan" rhetoric. I agree that "High Broderism" sounds hokey (and might be hokey) but if it pulls people into the Democratic Party, let's be hokey then.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Saw it tonight...wow. It's tremendously atmospheric...there are long, silent shots of the dry and dusty Texas landscape, light and shadow are used to great affect, and the sound is haunting.

The three leads, Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin are all excellent (Bardem's character, Anton Chigurh, an unassuming psychopath with a bad haircut and a love for games of chance, is one of the most scary screen villains in recent times). The movie, for all its darkness, has some genuinely funny moments. The ending will leave some people angry, probably, as there appears to be no real resolution. However, the movie is faithful to the book (and life) in that way; things don't always end cleanly (indeed, the movie's tagline is, "There Are No Clean Getaways").

It certainly won't affirm your faith in humanity, but it is a harrowing and thought provoking meditation on the casual creep of depravity into our society. Definitely a great film and one that will have me checking door locks to make sure they're intact for a long time.