Thursday, January 31, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
Moose is still refusing to type for Roxie’s World.
“What’s the point?” she asks mournfully. “It’s all over, isn’t it? I mean, Bill Clinton got the knickers of the punditocracy in a wad by pointing out that the significance of Obama’s opposition to the war in Iraq (while a state senator from Illinois) has been greatly exaggerated. Suddenly, the republic is on the brink of collapse because of an alleged violation of the rules on how former presidents are supposed to behave when their spouses are running for the highest office in the land, rules which somehow exist despite the fact that the founders of said land denied the rights of voting and running for office to their spouses and, oh yeah, the black folks they owned at the time.”
“Moose, that’s just the hormones talking. Don’t give up hope! Clinton still leads in the delegate count, and she’s not doing badly in the Kennedy count either. Yes, Caroline and Ted have thrown their support to Obama, but Clinton’s got Kathleen, Kerry, and RFK, Jr. That’s nothing to sneeze at!”
“Rox, please, don’t be naïve. Ted Kennedy steps into a highly contested primary race to endorse one senator with less seniority over another. It’s a big deal, dammit! It’s a huge deal! Why is that not a catastrophic breach of political decorum? Why are the bloviators not howling about how this will divide the Democratic party and destroy the unity essential to victory in November? Why do the Clintons always get blamed for this sort of crap?”
“Well, Paul Krugman did say he thought Dems had gone a little nuts over Bill Clinton’s remarks. . . .”
“Right, but Toni Morrison also endorsed Obama today with some airy tribute to his supposed ‘wisdom.’ ‘It is too bad if we associate [wisdom] only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight.’ My god, I could puke! A Nobel Prize winning writer whom I revere above almost any other living being implying that another woman is ‘cunning’ and holding forth as though ‘wisdom’ had any meaning or worth apart from action, apart from the hard work of living, breathing, and choosing in the world every godforsaken day of our pathetic little lives.”
“Moose, take a breath, seriously. I think the basketball has got you down.”
“No, Rox, my species has got me down, my party has got me down, and my country makes me insane. What was so awful about Hillary Clinton’s obviously (historically) accurate claim that President Johnson’s leadership was essential to the success of the struggle for civil rights for African Americans? Bill Moyers, who worked in the Johnson White House, certainly thought it was a fair point to make. And Obama’s remarks about Reagan were full of code words like ‘the excesses of 1960s and 1970s’ that were clearly aimed at assuring Republicans and independents that he was no liberal. Clinton’s response was well within bounds of fair political critique, but people fall all over themselves to denounce it as a Lee Atwater-scale attack on a fellow Democrat. Why, on the other hand, was it apparently quite acceptable to the Emily Posts of the punditocracy for Obama strategist David Axelrod to insinuate that Clinton’s vote to authorize military action in Iraq implicated her in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto? Where was the outrage on that? Where were the cries of, ‘Over the line! Off the deep end! Divider! Meanie!’”
“Perhaps there is a bit of a double standard in play here. A lot of people do really seem to hate the Clintons, you know. Still, Moose, you’ve got to call off this strike. I need you to type for me again. My readers are starving. You’ve got another speaking gig coming up next week, and we’ve got a lot of new readers coming in to see what Roxie’s World is all about. We can’t let them down. They need us! The guys in Clicks and Eyeballs are screaming for fresh content and hot links.”
“Well, maybe if you’d let me do that funny bit I was thinking about the other day – You know, ‘A President Like My Father.’”
“Oh, yeah, the funny one where you propose that what America needs is a mild-mannered Republican accountant with a secret gift for filthy song parodies and a bizarre obsession with The Sound of Music?”
“Yeah, that’s the one – about the candidate who makes Ted Kennedy reconsider his support for Obama with a hearty, ‘Hey, why not?’”
“Great idea, Moose. Grab the laptop and plop right down in the red chair. It’s time to get back to work!”
“Okay, but only if you promise I get to help write the Academy Awards post.”
“Sorry, but we'll leave that to the crack team of homosexual film critics over at Mod Fab and QTA. Anybody can write about politics, but it takes a real expert to decide who will end up with those gaudy gold statues.”
"Damn, Rox, sometimes I wish I was a homo."
"I know, I know, Moose, but you just don't have the wardrobe for it. Now, come on -- Start typing!"
Thursday, January 24, 2008
From tomorrow's New York Times:
This generally is the stage of a campaign when Democrats have to work hard to get excited about whichever candidate seems most likely to outlast an uninspiring pack. That is not remotely the case this year.
The early primaries produced two powerful main contenders: Hillary Clinton, the brilliant if at times harsh-sounding senator from New York; and Barack Obama, the incandescent if still undefined senator from Illinois. The remaining long shot, John Edwards, has enlivened the race with his own brand of raw populism.
As Democrats look ahead to the primaries in the biggest states on Feb. 5, The Times’s editorial board strongly recommends that they select Hillary Clinton as their nominee for the 2008 presidential election.
We have enjoyed hearing Mr. Edwards’s fiery oratory, but we cannot support his candidacy. The former senator from North Carolina has repudiated so many of his earlier positions, so many of his Senate votes, that we’re not sure where he stands. We certainly don’t buy the notion that he can hold back the tide of globalization.
By choosing Mrs. Clinton, we are not denying Mr. Obama’s appeal or his gifts. The idea of the first African-American nominee of a major party also is exhilarating, and so is the prospect of the first woman nominee. “Firstness” is not a reason to choose. The times that false choice has been raised, more often by Mrs. Clinton, have tarnished the campaign.
Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton would both help restore America’s global image, to which President Bush has done so much grievous harm. They are committed to changing America’s role in the world, not just its image. On the major issues, there is no real gulf separating the two. They promise an end to the war in Iraq, more equitable taxation, more effective government spending, more concern for social issues, a restoration of civil liberties and an end to the politics of division of George W. Bush and Karl Rove.
Mr. Obama has built an exciting campaign around the notion of change, but holds no monopoly on ideas that would repair the governing of America. Mrs. Clinton sometimes overstates the importance of résumé. Hearing her talk about the presidency, her policies and answers for America’s big problems, we are hugely impressed by the depth of her knowledge, by the force of her intellect and by the breadth of, yes, her experience.
It is unfair, especially after seven years of Mr. Bush’s inept leadership, but any Democrat will face tougher questioning about his or her fitness to be commander in chief. Mrs. Clinton has more than cleared that bar, using her years in the Senate well to immerse herself in national security issues, and has won the respect of world leaders and many in the American military. She would be a strong commander in chief.
Domestically, Mrs. Clinton has tackled complex policy issues, sometimes failing. She has shown a willingness to learn and change. Her current proposals on health insurance reflect a clear shift from her first, famously disastrous foray into the issue. She has learned that powerful interests cannot simply be left out of the meetings. She understands that all Americans must be covered — but must be allowed to choose their coverage, including keeping their current plans. Mr. Obama may also be capable of tackling such issues, but we have not yet seen it. Voters have to judge candidates not just on the promise they hold, but also on the here and now.
The sense of possibility, of a generational shift, rouses Mr. Obama’s audiences and not just through rhetorical flourishes. He shows voters that he understands how much they hunger for a break with the Bush years, for leadership and vision and true bipartisanship. We hunger for that, too. But we need more specifics to go with his amorphous promise of a new governing majority, a clearer sense of how he would govern.
The potential upside of a great Obama presidency is enticing, but this country faces huge problems, and will no doubt be facing more that we can’t foresee. The next president needs to start immediately on challenges that will require concrete solutions, resolve, and the ability to make government work. Mrs. Clinton is more qualified, right now, to be president.
We opposed President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq and we disagree with Mrs. Clinton’s vote for the resolution on the use of force. That’s not the issue now; it is how the war will be ended. Mrs. Clinton seems not only more aware than Mr. Obama of the consequences of withdrawal, but is already thinking through the diplomatic and military steps that will be required to contain Iraq’s chaos after American troops leave.
On domestic policy, both candidates would turn the government onto roughly the same course — shifting resources to help low-income and middle-class Americans, and broadening health coverage dramatically. Mrs. Clinton also has good ideas about fixing the dysfunction in Mr. Bush’s No Child Left Behind education program.
Mr. Obama talks more about the damage Mr. Bush has done to civil liberties, the rule of law and the balance of powers. Mrs. Clinton is equally dedicated to those issues, and more prepared for the Herculean task of figuring out exactly where, how and how often the government’s powers have been misused — and what must now be done to set things right.
As strongly as we back her candidacy, we urge Mrs. Clinton to take the lead in changing the tone of the campaign. It is not good for the country, the Democratic Party or for Mrs. Clinton, who is often tagged as divisive, in part because of bitter feeling about her husband’s administration and the so-called permanent campaign. (Indeed, Bill Clinton’s overheated comments are feeding those resentments, and could do long-term damage to her candidacy if he continues this way.)
We know that she is capable of both uniting and leading. We saw her going town by town through New York in 2000, including places where Clinton-bashing was a popular sport. She won over skeptical voters and then delivered on her promises and handily won re-election in 2006.
Mrs. Clinton must now do the same job with a broad range of America’s voters. She will have to let Americans see her power to listen and lead, but she won’t be able to do it town by town.
When we endorsed Mrs. Clinton in 2006, we were certain she would continue to be a great senator, but since her higher ambitions were evident, we wondered if she could present herself as a leader to the nation.
Her ideas, her comeback in New Hampshire and strong showing in Nevada, her new openness to explaining herself and not just her programs, and her abiding, powerful intellect show she is fully capable of doing just that. She is the best choice for the Democratic Party as it tries to regain the White House.
PAWS UP to the senator's hometown paper!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Technically speaking, we don't have time to post today on account of June Star is at this very moment screaming down I-95 to see us and we're all excited about that, but here's the thing: Today is Blog for Choice Day, and the Academy Award nominations came out this morning and Juno got a Best Picture nom. We're good with that here in Roxie's World, because Juno is the only movie the moms saw during the January break film fest that didn't make them want to run screaming from the theater to find another species to join. It was heart-warming in a good way and filled with winning performances and some of the best darn writing we've seen outside the collected works of Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf. By all means, yes, kids, let's jump right up on the Diablo Cody bandwagon.
They loved the film, but they found its ambivalent position on reproductive choice troubling, as did The Nation's Katha Pollitt. That moment when Juno pauses because the anti-choice protester outside the abortion clinic claims the fetus she is carrying has fingernails struck the moms as the movie's one false note, but it is a profoundly significant note. Why does such a smart, independent young woman fall for the sentimental and duplicitous ploy that the fetus is from the moment of its conception a person? Even if we grant the film its premise -- i.e., that Juno will carry the child to term and give it up for adoption -- this moment goes further than it needed to in order to justify Juno's choice. In acquiescing to the personhood of the fetus, Juno and the film demonize the option of abortion, which means her choice is really no choice at all. She couldn't remain the good and appealing young woman she is and choose to terminate her pregnancy once she has accepted this view of it. Her hands are tied by an ideological framework of squeamishness toward abortion.
Which is why a quick little post on Juno is a good way to honor Blog for Choice Day. The film reminds us that the right women gained 35 years ago today is precarious at best. There are no easy answers, but we must demand clear positions from candidates on the issue of reproductive freedom. We must keep the issue on the political radar screen, because its place on the cultural radar screen is hazy at best.
On the upside, nice Post article today on how increasing availability of RU-486 is "transform[ing] the experience of ending a pregnancy in the United States." Ya gotta wonder why the shrewd Juno didn't explore that option before her fetus got to the fingernails stage.
(Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures; Ellen Page as Juno)
Sunday, January 20, 2008
It's coming, children: One year from today is George W. Bush's last day in the office he stole in 2000 and 2004. Close your eyes. See someone else's hand upon the Bible on that glorious day. See the beaming Spousal Unit standing off to the side, the stern Supreme Court justice somberly reading out the oath. Feel a crisp winter breeze on your face as a sweet-faced, racially diverse group of schoolchildren sings a patriotic song that brings an unexpected lump to your throat. Don't be embarrassed. You deserve this moment. You deserve this feeling. You dreamed of it. You worked for it. You helped to make it happen.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
We begin by noting that it was the creative genius behind Queering the Apparatus who first alerted us to the news that Chris Matthews had caved in (to pressure from women's groups and liberal blogs like this one) and offered an on-air apology for outrageous remarks he recently made about Senator Hillary Clinton. Invoking a Bushian good heart/clumsy tongue defense, Matthews acknowledges that his assertion that Clinton owed her entire independent political career to the fact that "her husband messed around" came across as "callous," "nasty," and "dismissive," but he ignores the broader critique that he is, um, an idiotic jerk who makes law-abiding urban citizens wish they had cows so that they would have cattle guns around every time he opens his mouth. Transcript of Tweety's half-hearted apology is here. Watch the vid, but only if your cattle gun is safely stored:
Next, because we just haven't spent enough time arguing and obsessing about Hillary Clinton, we pass along the news, via Dog-Eared Book and Dudley the Beagle, of the impending publication of two books to aid in the projects of historicizing and deconstructing the junior senator from New York. (You didn't have other plans for spring, did you?) The first will give comfort to those who think Clinton hasn't gotten a fair shake from the media (though we can't imagine who those bitter, myopic individuals might be). Erika Falk's Women for President: Media Bias in Eight Campaigns begins with the campaign of another one of our heroes, 19th-century sex radical Victoria Woodhull, who ran for president in 1872, and ends with the short-lived 2004 campaign of former senator Carol Mosley Braun. Falk studies the tendency of the American press to portray female candidates as "unviable, unnatural, and incompetent" and to "ignore or belittle women instead of reporting their ideas and intent." No, really? Is that why we don't hear much about John McCain's cleavage or Mitt Romney's pants? (Scott McLemee has a review of the book at Inside Higher Ed.)
The second book is a collection edited by New Yorker editor Susan Morrison called Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections by Women Writers. (Did the title's allusion go over your head? Click here, and give thanks to Hilda Doolittle, director of our department of literary in-jokes and allusions.) We're not sure why the editor overlooked Roxie's World when she was gathering pieces for the collection, but the mere anticipation of the book has already inspired an absolutely hilarious column by the San Francisco Chronicle's Jon Carroll, who ponders why it is that male writers have not had the courage to discuss male candidates "in terms of their ability to wrestle with the challenges of manitude." It goes a long way toward explaining why voters know so dangerously little about John McCain's cleavage.
Enough about you humans. Here are a couple of dog treats readers have recently sniffed out for us. One of Moose's students (whose privacy will be protected, because we are big believers in the Buckley Amendment around here) sent us this tantalizing report about Hungarian scientists working on computer software for analyzing dog barks so that humans can better understand dogs' basic emotions. Note to the well-meaning Hungarian scientists: Why don't you just read the dogs' blogs??? Also, the Shy One sent us a link to this New York Times story on the healing power (for humans) of dogs. The story promotes yet another new book, this one by Sharon Sakson, Paws and Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs. To heck with a healthy diet, people! You want lower cholesterol? Go snuggle a dog!
We'll end by sending out a grateful PAWS UP to all our devoted fans and a fun video sent to us by the head of a small but passionate group, Classicists Against Bush. (Why not? Bush never liked the Grecians anyway.) Click on over to it. (We had it embedded here but didn't like the way it looked. The department of eye candy said it had to come down. Picky, picky, picky.)
Thursday, January 17, 2008
What’s wrong with this picture? Oh, you know, everything.
The good news is that the Clinton and Obama campaigns have declared a “truce” in a war of words about race that was threatening to overwhelm the truly great news of this election season. Let’s not forget that, kids: Democrats are awash in qualified, appealing, history-making candidates for president, while Republicans are riding a swift boat to election hell being co-captained by a flat-earther, a Mormon, and a guy wound so tight he can make a victory speech look like a prayer for a bowel movement. Don’t ask, but some denizens of Roxie’s World are pretty familiar with what such prayers look like.
By the way, did y’all hear that poor little Maureen Dowd went off on Shrub’s big trip to Six Flags Over the Mess We Made of the Middle East and got so damn sick she had to get treated by the president’s very own personal physician? Wa Po’s Reliable Source reports that MoDo was too sick to write her column for Sunday’s Times. Question for the ethicists of Roxie’s World: Are we evil for thinking that’s a good thing?
Anyway, back to the Showdown at Race/Gender Gap. We’re a little late getting to this story, which has been the talk of the blogosphere and the mainstream media for the past several days, so we won’t bore you with a bunch of links to stories you’ve already read or a bunch of speculation about who started the “war” and who benefits from it and who is harmed by it and whether the Dems’ propensity to get mired in identity politics is the one way to guarantee that the dude with the impacted bowel moves into the White House come January 2009.
No, what we want to talk about is the way we talk – or don’t talk – about race and gender in American politics. The metaphors we habitually see in the media – of wars and truces, games and cards, showdowns and smackdowns – are an indication of how, um, impacted our discourse on these subjects is. The images are all violent and adversarial, drawn from an economy of scarcity yet framed in individual rather than structural terms. The New Yorker cartoon is depressingly familiar in depicting members of two different groups historically lacking in power faced off against one another rather than joining forces to demand a redistribution of power from those who have historically hoarded it. The cartoon figures eye one another warily, as they must, because neither is prepared for that deeper struggle, which would not be a “war” but an even more fundamental re-imagining and re-structuring of social and economic relations. And we sure don’t want to go there, do we?
What became painfully clear in the whole “Who’s playing the race card?” imbroglio is that both Clinton and Obama are trying to run as white men. Pushed to the wall after her loss in Iowa, Clinton, one might argue, reluctantly played the gender card by publicly choking up and showing herself to be “just one of the girls” in an effort to appeal to women voters in New Hampshire. Obama, taken aback by his loss in New Hampshire, went ballistic on Clinton’s fairly banal suggestion that Martin Luther King had a healthy respect for the role politicians had to play in effecting social change in an effort to appeal to African-American voters in the upcoming South Carolina primary. Each selectively and ambivalently embraces her/his status as the first serious female/black contender for the presidency, preferring instead to fall back on a comforting language of competence or transcendence as a way of reassuring voters that this “change” election won’t really change much at all. Vote for me – I won’t set you free, but I’ll make you feel good, and that’s what counts.
We founder when we collectively stumble into the abyss of race or gender because we have no honest way of discussing the deep, material yet informal inequalities that remain when legal impediments to equality have been largely eliminated. (Bob Herbert’s column on misogyny this week was an encouraging example of the kind of conversation we need to be having, as was Pam Spaulding’s comment on our inability to speak frankly about race.) We grow impatient and pretend that the work is done because we seem unable to figure out how to do the work that so clearly needs doing. Would a president Clinton or Obama move the nation toward a way of taking on those difficult, necessary tasks? Hard to say, but it’ll never happen if they don’t put the guns down, turn around, and look each other straight in the eye.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Newsflash: "Taliban"* beats Evil Empire 85-70 at Comcast!
We pause in the midst of our political obsessing to note that the 4th-ranked Lady Terrapins of the University of Maryland defeated the evil Blue Devils of Duke University in College Park for the first time since 1998 on Monday evening. They were led by inspired play from our beloved Marissa "Shoulders" Coleman, who scored 30 points and looked like she would spit bullets when the feisty Devils tied the game with 7 minutes left to go. Photo above shows pregnant-with-twins Coach Brenda Frese having a heart-to-heart with point guard Kristi Toliver, who had a bit of turnover trouble in the game.
The moms were thrilled because their very fetching "Fear the Brenda" and "Terp Women Rule" signs were shown on the jumbo-tron an amazing three times! They stand ready to help deliver Coach B's babies themselves should it prove necessary in the next month or so.
AP recap of the game is here. Kathy Orton's Wa Po story is here.
Wa Po story on Toliver's evolution as a point guard is here.
Sports Illustrated story on Coach B. having to watch road games at home now that her doctor has advised against travel is here.
Memo to new Duke Coach Joanne McCallie: Sorry for the rude welcome to "Hell in a Shell," but that's life in the ACC, baby. You're still the best dressed coach in college women's basketball, and we look forward to whipping your teams for decades to come.
*House Rule #1 in Roxie's World: We hate Duke so much that if Duke were playing the Taliban, we'd root for the Taliban. Therefore, any team playing Duke is called the Taliban, and we sit on the couch or in the stands shouting, "Go, Taliban, go!"
Sunday, January 13, 2008
There is also this delightful Scott Bateman cartoon, which takes up Matthews's mind-boggling assertion earlier this week that Hillary Clinton would not be in the United States senate or a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination were it not for the fact that "her husband messed around":
Then, because an issue is not really an issue until Jon Stewart has weighed in on it, there is this long bit from The Daily Show on how the pundits got everything wrong in New Hampshire. His comments about Matthews are about 5 minutes into the clip (though the whole thing, of course, is worth watching):
So, you see, fellow citizens, we have found the true uniter! We have found one thing on which we can all agree. Please, Clintonistas and Obamaniacs, and, yes, even you dead-ender Edwardians, let us join hands and give thanks to the gods of media consolidation who have given us so very many opportunities to see and hear and loathe Chris Matthews as we slog through the tortuous process of choosing our next president. Chris reminds us that no matter how vague and insubstantial political campaigns are, there is nothing more vapid than the coverage of those campaigns. No matter how trivial or mean-spirited one campaign's attacks may be upon another, the blabbing, blithering bloviators will always win the contest to see who is most superficial or gratuitously cruel. In a nation of swift boaters, their profit-seeking boats are the biggest and swiftest of all. Mo Do's pathetic little newspaper column is nothing compared to the platforms Chris has for spewing his venomous Hillary hatred. Thanks, NBC, for reminding us of what binds us together in these moments when intra-party divisions threaten to tear us apart.
So, now that we all feel warm and happy and united again, Roxie's World has some homework for y'all to do.
- First, snuggle up to your computer and watch Senator Clinton on Meet the Press this morning. The completely unbiased view from the couch here at headquarters was that the old girl was at the top of her game, calmly yet forcefully answering little Timmy's game of gotcha on everything from her and her husband's criticisms of Senator Obama to her vote on Iraq. Love her or hate her, you have to be impressed with the woman's command of the issues.
- Then, check out this long piece by Jon Meachem in Newsweek called "Letting Hillary Be Hillary." It focuses in part on the race/gender minefield this election has become and in part on how Clinton recovered from her defeat in Iowa by making herself more accessible to both voters and journalists as a way of re-introducing herself. It's amazing that one of the most famous women in the world should need to do this, but it's true -- and we think she should continue with the open-door and open-mic policies.
- This New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza is a few months old, but Moose ran across it when she was tracking down Kumbaya references in relation to Obama. The article is called "The Legacy Problem: How Hillary and Her Rivals Take on the Clinton Administration," and it focuses on Clinton, Edwards, and Obama. Interestingly, it's Edwards who characterizes Obama's claims about the need for greater consensus in Washington by saying that the difference between Obama's approach and his own is the difference between “Kumbaya” and “saying, ‘This is a battle. It’s a fight.’ ” And yet it's Clinton who is accused of campaigning "against hope." Our position is that she's campaigning against naivete about how genuine differences shape the process of making policy. You can't ignore them or "transcend" them. You have to work with and through them in order to make things happen. (Paul Burka makes this case in an op-ed piece that compares Obama's politics of hope to Shrub's fantasies about being a "uniter.")
- Finally, curl up with Mark Leibovich's "Rights vs. Rights: An Improbable Collision Course," which makes us think that someone at the New York Times has taken to reading Roxie's World. It looks at the Clinton-Obama battle through the historical prism of struggles for gender and racial equality in the United States and pays particular attention to that period Moose was thinking about after Iowa, when the coalition between abolitionists and women's suffragists broke down after abolitionists opted to support the 15th Amendment, which gave black men the vote and introduced the distinction of gender into the Constitution for the first time. It's a good article that gives us an excuse to end with photos of two of our favorite historical heroes, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass, and a gentle reminder that real change always comes slowly, but it comes more slowly when natural allies allow themselves to be divided.
(Photo Credit: Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Guys in Clicks and Eyeballs (CE) turn cartwheels in cubicles as wild celebration erupts! Creative Team (CT) and Political Division (PD) vie to take credit for stupendous breakthrough! “It’s because Roxie dropped the F-bomb,” a member of CT insisted. “It showed readers how passionately she cares about what’s going on, and they responded to that heart-felt display of raw emotion. We’ve had her on too short a leash. We need to let her run free, put it all out there – Let Roxie be Roxie!” “That’s ridiculous,” replied an analyst from PD. “Our data shows that readers don’t come here for vulgarity and death threats – ‘Get me my cattle gun,’ pshaw – but for lively yet reasoned political debate from the unique perspective of a progressive dog with strong ties to queerness, feminism, and academia. It’s a weird little demographic, I admit, but it’s our demographic, and that’s what has readers coming in droves.”
Meantime, off in the red chair, Moose’s shoulders ache from too many hours trolling the internets for images and analysis, but she is thinking, in the wake of all this success, of launching her own blog – maybe calling it “Butch PhD” – with visions of a thousand page loads a day dancing in her fevered brain. Mark Twain, director of the Office of Persona Management here in Roxie’s World, stalks off in disgust, muttering, “I’ve known butches, I’ve worked with butches, and you, m’am, are no butch.” He heads to Ishmael’s, the bar down the street from RW Enterprises, LLC, global headquarters.
(In truth, credit for the surge in traffic is due in part to the “Hillary’s Tears” post landing on the Buzzfeed list of Best Links on the topic. We’ve been in first or second place for most of the week [and we'll stay there if y'all do like you're supposed to do and click over to Buzzfeed and then back to us]. Thank you, Buzzfeed, and thank you, America, for turning politics into an obsessive focus on superficial personal traits, qualities, foibles, and quirks. Roxie’s World is deeply grateful for your profoundly shallow preoccupations.)
Now back to irregularly scheduled blog-a-licious programming. How about a fun round of everybody’s favorite game, Write a Caption for this Photo in the Voice of Someone Who Is Either Extremely Annoying or Incredibly Influential (or Both)? We’ll start. Words in italics were actually written by the person being imitated.
(Photo Credit: Carlos Barria, Reuters)
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd: There was a poignancy about the moment, as their eyes locked together in a gaze of mutual narcissism and insatiable ambition. The triumph of the mother set the stage for the ascent of the daughter. In that moment, Chelsea Clinton began planning the campaign of 2028 and her mother, recognizing the family spark in the young woman’s eyes, silently promised to do everything in her limitless power to assure their dynastic dreams would be fulfilled, even if all the girls hated them and all the boys thought they were ugly and nerdy and dull.
Professor and provocateur Camille Paglia: Hillary and Chelsea together are a classic feminazi package. The toxic gender bias is written in their adoring faces and is evident in poor, beneath-contempt Bill being relegated to the deep background of the photograph. Chelsea’s perversely prayerful hands underscore the near-messianic scale of her mother’s ambitions. Her daughter is just the latest in the long line of adoring women with whom Clinton has surrounded herself in an effort to seal herself off from the masculinity she disdains.
NBC “analyst” Chris Matthews: I hate to say this, but I am just going to say this because it’s a fact. The two of them together look really witchy, don’t you think? I mean, it’s double, double toil and trouble, isn’t it? Men look at this picture, and it just really grates on them, because you imagine what they might be saying to each other there, and it’s just fingernails on a blackboard, you know, because they’re probably looking around for some baboon’s blood, and that can’t be good.
Wa Po fashion editor Robin Givhan: Chelsea is never going anywhere with that nose. And, Hillary, gray boiled wool on a commander-in-chief? Please! Would you call Condi for a consult on true dominatrix dressing?
Lefty academic feminist blogger BitchPhD: I’ve got a cold and a fever and am too tired to do any serious blogging about this, plus PK has a soccer game this morning, and I still don’t know who I’m going to vote for in the Democratic primary, even if Obama never talks about women and Edwards’s recent comments about Hillary’s display of emotion were totally sexist, but I just want to say that I like this picture on feminist grounds and mom grounds. If my kid were a girl, I would be totally thrilled if she looked at me that way as I prepared to take over the world.
Nation columnist Katha Pollitt: I can’t comment on this photo. If I comment on this photo, I am perpetuating a system of gender bias that judges Hillary Clinton on the basis of appearances rather than policies and traps her in a double bind over and over again: if she wears a black pantsuit she's too masculine and if she wears a pink shell she's too feminine; if she's serious she's humorless and if she laughs she "cackles." That said, I think it’s a really sweet photo. If people don’t stop attacking her on these ridiculously sexist grounds, I am going to end up voting for her to spite them.
Please feel free to continue the game in comments. This one could go on forever, kids!
We're also pleased to report that a serious blogospheric backlash against Hillary-bashing seems to be taking hold. Much of the criticism is aimed at two of our favorite objects of ire, Mo Do and Chris Matthews. We should probably create a regular feature called something like The Quotable Blogosphere, to showcase little gems such as these:
Every vote for Hillary Clinton is a knife through the heart of Maureen Dowd. -- Lance MannionThere are also some tinkle-inducing Mo Do parodies out there, including a brilliant one by Jon Swift called "The Crying of Maureen Dowd," and another on Sisyphus Shrugged called "shorter Mo Do." Tom Watson has a funny piece called "The Matthews Meter" that explores whether the bloviator's "obsessive and openly sexist campaign against Hillary Clinton help or hurt the New York Senator in New Hampshire." We think it helped, so instead of firing Matthews we now call on MSNBC to put him on the air 24/7 until November 4. We just have to find a way to keep Moose away from the cattle gun until then.
I wonder if Chris Matthews realizes that every time he or one of his fellow gasbags blithely reveal their sexist lizard brains like this, another little feminist gets her (or his) wings. -- Digby
Peace out, kids. Time to end our long, busy day in the blogosphere and do some actual, um, living!
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Listen to Butch Goddess Rachel Maddow on what we hereby declare the Matthews Effect in the New Hampshire Democratic primary:
Read James Wolcott's fantabulous deconstruction of "the Obama Love Train." Wolcott is not hostile to Obama (and neither is Roxie's World), but he is apoplectic on "the ugly spectacle" of media attacks on Clinton and on "the rah-rah gaga Beatlemania oozing out of the Huffington Post over Obama." To which we say: Amen! As June Star noted in this morning's post-primary phone consultation with Moose, nobody does high dudgeon like Wolcott, and the dude is higher than a kite in this post.
Finally, because my typist has to get out of the red chair and head into the office this afternoon, curl up and watch Clinton's victory speech one more time. You know you want to, and if you get a little choked up when she says, "I listened to you, and in the process I found my own voice," you know that no one here in Roxie's World will judge you for it. In fact, we'll nuzzle up close to your sweet little face and lick the tears right off your cheek. It's what we do here when tough girls cry. Peace out, beloveds. Embrace the day.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
(Photo Credit: Doug Mills, New York Times)
Just don't call her the Comeback Kid. Oh, fuck it, why not? NBC has just called New Hampshire for Hillary Clinton!
Message to Mainstream Media: Drop Dead. (That means you, Chris Matthews. Bring me my cattle gun!)
Message to Pollsters: Huh????
Message to the Women Voters of New Hampshire: THANK YOU!!!!
Message to America: The first woman or the first African-American president -- It's a good choice to have. GAME ON, CITIZENS, GAME ON!
Monday, January 07, 2008
You know the same cynical crew that spilled buckets of ink deconstructing Clinton's "cackle" will have a field day debating whether the display of emotion was genuine or yet another calculating effort to con voters into entertaining the possibility that she is a human being with an actual beating heart. I can see the Maureen Dowd column now, and I bet a year's supply of kibble that NBC's Andrea Mitchell will be on the news tonight with some breathless behind-the-curtain report on how the tears were a desperate, orchestrated response to polling data showing that 4 out of 5 New Hampshire voters believe the former First Lady is a replicant. In her on-the-ground reporting from Iowa the other night, Mitchell kept pointing out that the party in Clinton's campaign headquarters the night of her dismal showing in the caucuses was staged. Andrea passed along this "news" as though every other loss in American political history had been followed by a spontaneous gathering of ridiculously happy people that just happened to be captured by television cameras, so we look forward to her in-depth analysis of Clinton's tears.
Wa Po's Anne E. Kornblut, not known for her sympathetic coverage of the junior senator from New York, witnessed the display of emotion and seems to have found it genuine. Her blog post on the moment is here. Newsweek's Karen Breslau was there, too, and thought she caught a glimpse of the Clinton she got to know during her years of covering her as First Lady: "an engaging, warm and witty woman, a first-class road-trip companion who seemed to spring to life as soon as her plane left U.S. airspace." More importantly, an undecided voter who was on the scene was also moved by the moment. Breslau's report, which is here, concludes:
"It got me," said Jane Harrington, a voter from Newington who came to the session trying to decide between Clinton and Obama, whom she had seen a day before—and really liked. "I wanted to see who the real Hillary was. That was real." The question now is how many others will feel the way Harrington did—and whether the emotional moment came too late.The consensus in Roxie's World is clear: Tough girls don't intentionally cry in public, so when they do it comes straight from the heart. We feel for you, Hill, and with you. Hang in there. The nation you seek to lead is mostly a bunch of cry babies anyway. Sew up that vote, and you'll win in a walk.
Update: Great op-ed in Tuesday's NYT by Gloria Steinem on gender as a force in American life and the current election and on why gender barriers are taken less seriously than racial barriers. It speaks to the debate that broke out in comments here on the "No Country for Bold Women" post. Go read it, children, and we'll resume that conversation while the vampire killers are sharpening up their stakes after Clinton loses in New Hampshire. Love you. Mean it.
Update #2: The Good Old Girls continue to weigh in on this subject. Katha Pollitt offers a fiery denunciation of John Edwards's smarmy, sexist suggestion that the incident suggested Clinton might not be "tough" enough to be president. Hmmm. Let's see. Just how "tough" is the guy who sent his wife out to attack the woman candidate in the race and hid behind her support for same-sex marriage as a way to protect himself from criticism for his poll-tested opposition to it? The glorious Pollitt talks to Pat Schroeder, who knows a thing or two about the political risks for women of public displays of emotion, about the incident and responses to it. "I'm so sick about the way Hillary is treated I can hardly talk about it," the former congresswoman and presidential candidate tells Pollitt. Amen, Pat!
Update #3: As predicted here in Roxie's World, noted cat-fighter and Clinton-hater Maureen Dowd holds forth on Hillary's nefarious plan to "cry her way back to the White House." Yep, that's right. Thanks, Mo Do, for continuing to meet the exceedingly low expectations we have for you. You truly had to scale the heights of Dowdian genius to inject both Richard Nixon and the misogynistic stereotype of Clinton as "the school girl with geeky glasses and frizzy hair, smart but not the favorite" into your commentary, but you managed to do it. All of us visually impaired smart girls appreciate your tireless work on our behalf.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Nice little reminder that partisan bickering can be fun and funny, eh?
Memo to Nervous Clinton Supporters: Stay away from latest New Hampshire polling data. It's not pretty. Click on that link at your own risk, and don't say we didn't warn you.
Easy Activism Opportunity for DC-Area Clintonistas: If you'd like to do something besides sit home biting your nails between now and Tuesday's primary, the Clinton campaign is phone-banking at its Arlington headquarters. Call 703-875-1202 to sign up.
Here's a calming piece by Susan Estrich on what a poor predictor the Iowa caucuses have proven to be of success in a presidential campaign. Estrich notes that Obama will get a deserved bump from his win in Iowa, but that he will also receive (deserved) heightened scrutiny of his (thin) record, including all those "present" votes in the Illinois state senate. She is not predicting victory for Clinton, but she sees the nomination race as far from over.
Meanwhile, over on Huff Po, Michael Fauntroy suggests a pause for breath in all the hyperventilation about Obama's victory. Fauntroy acknowledges the historic nature of the win but also points out that to date Obama has enjoyed astonishingly favorable press coverage that contrasts sharply to the 15 years of often negative coverage Clinton has endured.
Finally, here's a little civics lesson we stumbled on courtesy of Bitch PhD over at The Edge of the American West. It's a really clear explanation of our insane presidential nominating system that explains, among other things, the changes that occurred in the process between 1968 and 1972, when the primaries and caucuses came to play a more important role in the selection of the parties' nominees than they had in the past. It also contains this encouraging word for Clinton supporters:
So where are we today? On the Democratic side, Sen. Barack Obama had an unexpectedly good showing in the Iowa Caucus. But even if he beats Hillary Clinton next Tuesday in New Hampshire, that will hardly demolish her candidacy. For Obama to get nominated, he’ll have to defeat Clinton in a lot of upcoming races where she is favored to win and in which she has a lot of important allies. Let’s just remember that in 1992, Bill Clinton didn’t compete in Iowa, and he came in second in New Hampshire. These early contests are important, but they are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for winning the nomination.Chins up, kids. The road is long, with many a winding curve. Or, as the late Karen Carpenter put it, We've only just begun . . . . Don't listen to the bloviators. Don't read the polls. We'll do that for you and dole the news out in small, easy-to-swallow pieces. And just remember that it's a far far better thing to be faced with the Democrats' embarrassment of riches than the Republicans' mere embarrassment.
Friday, January 04, 2008
The morning after Iowa, Moose sits in the red chair, reading the papers, fielding phone calls, loathing NBC’s chief bloviator, Chris Matthews, to whom she unwisely subjected herself for far too many hours last night. Matthews was so over-the-top in his gleeful anticipatory dancing upon the grave of the Clinton campaign that Moose entertained unkind visions of Anton Chigurh, the sociopathic killing machine who marches through the austere landscape of No Country for Old Men, taking aim at Matthews’s fat head with that strange cattle gun that is his weapon of choice. Forgive Moose her uncharacteristically mean thoughts, but even Keith Olbermann seemed horrified by his colleague’s emphatic pronouncements of doom for Clinton. (Other viewers shared Moose's disgust, by the way.) Had it not been for butch goddess Rachel Maddow, who was also on MSNBC and sanely pointed out that 2/3s of Democratic voters rejected each of the party’s front runners in Iowa, Moose would have turned off the TV and gone to bed by 9:30, but she cannot walk away from Rachel Maddow.
June Star calls in from New Jersey to declare, not gloatingly but matter of factly, that Barack Obama’s stunning victory signals the start of a juggernaut that cannot be stopped. Moose demurs from that assessment, though she admits to being impressed by the size of the victory and by Obama’s success with young and independent voters. (Details here.) Moose acknowledges Obama gave a stirring victory speech, a soaring bit of oratory that quickened her pulse and made her palms a little sweaty. (See Obama's speech here.) But, she says to June Star, has anyone noticed that the politics and the policies don’t match the rhetoric, that even if he’s talking like RFK and MLK his proposals are warmed-over versions of stuff out of the Democratic Losership Council? No, June Star replies. Nobody is noticing because nobody cares right now. Voters are hungry for change, and they want to be inspired. I know, Moose says. Me, too, but surely the substance matters, and aren’t you furious with the press’s knee-jerk hatred of Clinton and their eagerness to declare her campaign DOA? Of course, June Star says, but, oh, shoot, I’ve reached my destination. I’ll call you back later.
(NB: Roxie’s World does not condone the use of cell phones while driving. Let the record show that June Star uses a perfectly legal hands-free device for chatting while negotiating the highways of the Garden State, and Moose always urges her to pay proper attention to traffic as they minutely dissect the latest developments in politics and pop culture.)
Moose hangs up the phone. She puts down the papers and stares out the back window, thinking, for some strange reason, of the late 1860s. Moose, as I have told you before, is weird and given at times to pondering history’s maddening tendency to repeat itself. She is musing upon that nasty period in the history of American civil rights when the coalition between abolitionists and women’s rights advocates that worked so effectively to bring about the end of slavery fell apart when abolitionists agreed to separate the causes of black and women’s suffrage and support the 14th and 15th Amendments, which secured voting rights for black men and introduced the distinction of gender into the Constitution for the first time. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and others in the women’s suffrage movement felt betrayed and abandoned by their old allies, including William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, and relations between the advocates of women’s equality and racial equality were severely strained. In the end, American women would wait another fifty years to gain universal suffrage with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. That painful bit of history is a powerful example of what happens when race and sex are pitted against each other, which happens all too often in American politics and in the crude framings of events (as allegories, melodramas, endless repetitions of a reductive Showdown at Race/Gender Gap) in the American media. Moose sees that happening everywhere in the coverage of Clinton v. Obama, and it drives her crazy.
And yet: Moose is thinking about all the talk she’s heard about America not being “ready” for a black president. She never bought that, but now she’s wondering if it isn’t possible that the country isn’t ready for a woman president. Could it be that misogyny is a more potent force in the electorate than racism is, or is that the wrong question, a question that shows Moose herself is caught up in the trap of pitting race against gender? Is it simply that the magnetic Obama is a better candidate than the overly cautious Clinton? Or that the Clinton campaign, in thrall to pollster Mark Penn, misread voters’ moods and placed too much emphasis on the candidate’s experience rather than on the exciting prospect of putting a woman in the White House (as president) for the first time? (That point is made deep into this Wa Po analysis of what happened to Clinton in Iowa.) (Just to prove that these are not [all] rhetorical questions, we’ll offer an emphatic YES on that last one and urge Clinton to un-burden herself of the over-rated Penn as quickly as possible. Fire him, Hillary, and throw a little bit of your caution to the wind. Let voters see that you want this thing, and they’ll start wanting it for you. Talk to your husband about the advantages of running as the underdog.)
It’s entirely possible that all of this gnashing of teeth and talk of changing courses is premature. The bigger story out of Iowa in the opinion of the political division here at Roxie’s World is the triumph of the terrifying yet affable Mike Huckabee in the Republican straw poll, a result that throws the race on that side into true chaos. If Clinton comes back in five days and wins New Hampshire, Matthews and the other vampire slayers will have to admit that not much has changed and the old girl isn’t dead yet. The candidate herself was preternaturally calm last night in the face of defeat. She, too, gave a wonderful speech. (See it here.) She was gracious to Obama and the rest of the Democratic field and appropriately exultant on the size of the turnout for Democrats. She also seemed quietly yet fiercely determined to carry on the fight for the nomination. She has the resources and the organization to do so, so perhaps the prognosticators should hold their tongues and wait and see what happens when the race moves into bigger states. She’s got work to do, but there’s no reason to think she can’t do it.
In the meantime, we’ve taken steps here in Roxie’s World to assure that Moose’s mood stabilizes as the race unfolds. She’s been forbidden to watch any show that has Chris Matthews on it, and we’re not letting her get anywhere near livestock equipment stores. Sweeney Todd is next on the list of films she and Goose are supposed to see, so we may need to limit her access to barbershops as well, but fear not, readers. The old dog is on a short leash for the duration, and she’ll stand by Hillary, as she did by Bill, until the last dog dies.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Undo my logic(Image Credit: Random Search of Internets)
Undo my fear
-- Lucinda Williams, “Unsuffer Me” (2007 Song of the Year in Roxie's World -- conveniently uploaded to "Roxie Music" box in right sidebar for your listening pleasure)
Sorry to drag you back into the past on the first day of the new year, kids, but the moms were on the road for the holidays, so we couldn’t assemble the creative team to decide what kind of end-of-year retrospective to put together. The challenge was compounded by the fact that we fell seriously behind on TV- and movie-watching this year. Blame it on the moms being a little too serious about their day jobs or on my diminished abilities to see, hear, and stay awake for more than twenty minutes at a time, but Moose knew we were in trouble when she looked at several different lists of the year’s best films and realized she and Goose hadn’t seen any of them. That’s when we decided we’d have to handle this monumental task the same way we handle most of the hard work here in our happy little corner of the blogosphere: by staring at our navels and pretending to see the whole darned world. (Yes, in case you are wondering, dogs, like all mammals, do have navels. [We googled it to make sure.]) And so, here are some of the things that, for better or for worse, got our attention here in Roxie’s World in 2007, organized, um, doggie style, because, well, doggone it, that’s the way we think.
Those of you craving more comprehensive year-end reviews should check out some of the following lists and lists of lists. Boy, some people sure do have a lot of time on their hands:
- Jon Swift’s Best Blog Posts of 2007 (Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves)
- Modern Fabulousity’s Best Films of 2007 (In addition to Mod Fab's solo list, check out the jury prizes handed out by his crack team of homosexual film fiends, which includes, of course, our own beloved Damion of Queering the Apparatus. (QTA's solo best list is here. And we haven't seen any of those yet either!)
- New York Times, 2007: The Year in Pictures. You know, we could almost forgive the Times for adding insult to injury by having Bill Kristol join Maureen Dowd on its op-ed page because it consistently offers the best eye candy in American photojournalism, but even this great compendium of pictures makes that dastardly combination of pen-wielding lunatics impossible to fathom. Still, go look at the pictures. They are pretty, and pretty is good.
- Time, 50 Top 10 Lists of 2007. Your clicker finger will wear out because Time's department of Clicks and Eyeballs cleverly decided to drive up pageloads by putting each item on each list on a separate page, but if you're looking for lists of the best of everything from news and politics to business, sports, and entertainment, this is the place to go.
GOOD DOGS: We do hereby declare the whole pack of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination to be very good dogs indeed. Y'all know we've picked Hillary Clinton as our top dog in the fight, but we admire the values, visions, and leadership skills of all the major candidates. From the world of sports, we remind you all of the incredible grace shown by Coach C. Vivian Stringer and the entire Rutgers University women's basketball team in April after bad dog/tox jock Don Imus viciously (racistly, sexistly) insulted the team following its glorious run to the NCAA championship game. From the world of entertainment, we'll declare actress Jodie Foster a good if slow dog for finally acknowledging her same-sex partner and co-mom, Cydney Bernard, in public.
BAD DOGS: Oh, where to begin, and who really wants to linger on the bad when the year is all shiny and new? But we must, readers, we must, for the sake of Truth, Accuracy, and History. We must remember that in 2007 Vice President Darth Cheney continued to lie about, well, everything, and the Great Leader, Shrub, continued to be stupid about, well, everything. (Random recent example: In a year-end interview with People magazine, when told that a Marine at Camp David had commented on how "nice" First Lady Laura Bush always smelled, the president charmingly replied, "Obviously he didn't work in the gym." We'll admit it was weird of the reporter to bring up the matter of body odor in a presidential interview, but isn't it amazing that the Great Leader goes straight for the locker room and is willing to let the world imagine that his wife actually stinks?) Anyway, it's probably knee-jerk of us to anoint the whole pack of Republican candidates for the presidential nomination bad dogs, but we'll do it because we know you expect us to and because they deserve it. Each is so much more craven and horrifying and creepy than the next that we stand by Moose's prediction of several months ago: The Dems could nominate poop on toast and beat any one of these fetus-worshiping, hate-mongering twits. Others on the short list for Bad Dog of the Year? NFL quarterback and convicted dog fighter Michael Vick is in a special category of evil doer who should not be called a bad dog in a metaphorical sense because he was convicted of being unspeakably cruel to actual dogs in a literal sense. Still, where else would we put him? Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf lands in this category because we are reasonably certain he is directly or indirectly responsible for the recent death of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto (see below). We could go on, but this is depressing.
WATCH DOGS: We have to admit this is one of our favorite categories, and we are pleased to declare former Vice President Al Gore winner of the group prize for 2007 for his tireless work on climate change. The winner of the popular vote in the 2000 election is an inspiration to anyone who ever got kicked in the teeth and had to figure out what to do next. Note to F. Scott Fitzgerald: Turns out there are second acts in America lives, and some of them are well worth watching. We could nominate a bunch of our progressive blog brethren and sisteren to this category, but we are currently enamored of Digby's relentless critiques of the political drivel coming out of the mainstream media. Props also go to the ever-righteous Keith Olbermann and the always-hilarious Jon Stewart. Please, lord, end the writers' strike. We need our Daily Show! Finally, just to prove the mainstream media are still occasionally capable of great watch-dog journalism, we commend Wa Po reporters Barton Gellman and Jo Becker for their extraordinary series of stories on the vice presidency of Darth Cheney. Titled "Angler," it was published here in June.
LOST DOGS: Death was big last year, as it always is, so it's hard and strange to try to say which deaths "mattered" when of course they all mattered or didn't matter equally in some sense. Nevertheless, Roxie's World was touched by the deaths of Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro in January and of Texas writer and rabble-rouser Molly Ivins in February. We were shocked by the killing of thirty-three people on the campus of Virginia Tech University in April and inspired to muse upon poetic justice by the sudden death of fundamentalist leader Jerry Falwell in May. The passing of Lady Bird Johnson in June elicited one of Moose's very favorite Goose stories ever. It is a story of anchovies, etiquette, and Texas girlhood that is bound to warm the cockles of your cynical heart. Finally, 2007 ended with the jarring yet in some ways not surprising assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. We feel compelled to say one more time that the Bhutto Death Watch we staged here in Roxie's World was intended as a tribute to the former prime minister's courage in returning to her country to work to establish a genuine democracy there. The world has barely begun to reckon with the implications of her death. (The NY Times magazine has a more thorough report on the year in death. It's here.)
BEST DOG TOY FOR HUMANS OF 2007: the iPhone, of course, and the moms don't have one because they're waiting for that exclusive deal with AT&T to fall by the wayside. In the meantime, they are green with envy toward all their cool friends who do have iPhones and whip them out of their pockets every 3.5 seconds to take unflattering photos or consult maps, weather reports, restaurant reviews, and movie schedules. Okay, okay, we get it -- You're smarter than we are, hipper than we are, and willing to risk living without Verizon's blanket coverage.
BEST IN SHOW OF 2007: Yeah, there's a lot we missed, but we were tuned in enough to know, for example,
- that the third season of Showtime's Weeds definitely did not suck;
- that the second season of HBO's Big Love was riveting;
- that the winding down of The Sopranos was sublime, whatever ambivalence we might have had about that cut-to-black ending.
Live Performances: The moms didn't get out much in 2007, but they did catch Kathleen Turner in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Kennedy Center in January and are convinced it was the greatest live dramatic performance by anybody anywhere ever. That woman can chew scenery like nobody living or dead, and she was born to play Martha. The moms also caught a fair amount of live music this year, including, of course, my Uncle Bobby Earl Smith's birthday concert at Austin's Broken Spoke in June. That was in a class by itself, but the best live musical performance of the year was Lucinda Williams at Wolf Trap in July. (Competitors in this category included Bruce Springsteen's two shows at the Verizon Center in November as well as Rickie Lee Jones at the Birchmere and Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin, Judy Collins, and Nanci Griffith at Wolf Trap.) The moms had seats in the pit for Lucinda's show, which was flawless and thrilling from start to finish and leads us directly into our last category.
Recorded Music: Lucinda reached new heights (or depths?) of raunchy, bummed out, pissed off, tough-girl blues with this year's West, a record the moms probably would have worn out if it had been made of vinyl. We're tempted to call it our Album of the Year, though the taunting eroticism of "Unsuffer Me" is unrivaled in the category of Song of the Year. Still, West faces stiff competition from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss's Raising Sand, a seamless, evocative blend of two great voices that is hauntingly beautiful. Even Goose admits that Raising Sand beats out Bruce Springsteen's Magic for Album of the Year in Roxie's World. Actually, it's possible the record released by the Boss's wife, Patti Scialfa, Play It As It Lays, might beat out Magic in this category, but we're going to avoid creating strife in the Springsteen household and give the nod to Plant and Krause, who truly deserve it. We dare you to try to get through their rendition of the Everly Brothers's "Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)" without tapping your toes and joining in on the chorus.
That's it, kids! Here's to more singing, dancing, watching, and opinionating here in Roxie's World in 2008. As always, we are delighted to have you with us and look forward to a year of virtual barks and belly rubs. Peace out and happy new year.