God Bless Naive Fools

What do you think of Obama NowFor about three and a half years, I’ve really hated the bumper sticker on the left. There are a lot of reasons. The first was that I saw it within a week of his taking office. Clearly, people were putting “So how do you like Obama now?” on their bumpers because you just couldn’t fit, “I’m an asshole who doesn’t like Obama so I’m going to pretend that everyone thinks the way I do and further that I was smart to see before you what you don’t see now but I’m assuming you do.”

Things were certainly as bad for Bill Clinton as they have been for President Obama. What is different is that when Obama was inaugurated, conservatives didn’t even pretend to give him a chance. It’s like Fox News, which reports every winter snow storm as, “Where’s the global warming, liberals?” In February 2009—February!—people were saying, “The economy sucks, I guess Obama isn’t the miracle worker he claimed to be!”

After a year, the criticism of Obama calmed to what we have come to expect of conservatives. It was at this point that my hatred of this bumper sticker entered a new stage. I could honestly answer the question, “Not that much, but for actual policy reasons that you would make you love Obama if only he were a Republican.” I hated how the bumper sticker implied that the owner knew my original feelings about Obama, which were complicated to say the least; I supported him but I didn’t expect all the much (I was still disappointed). Even more enraging was the idea that if I were unhappy with Obama it was for the same reasons they were unhappy with him. The problem is, I could never figure out why they were unhappy with him, except of course, that he was a Democrat. Go team!

Quite recently, I’ve seen these bumper stickers in a new light—my third stage. I didn’t know many people who were Obama true believers; I run with a cynical crowd. As a result, I hadn’t thought about these people who believed those campaign speeches about hope and change. But I should have. People who can think of the future in terms of hope and change should be honored. They are the best of what we are.[1]

And the bumper sticker’s rhetorical question is offensive. It scoffs at these people. It says, “You are a bunch of naive fools!” But if our culture is to have any hope, we need all the naive fools we can get.[2]

[1] That’s a reference to Bruce Cockburn’s great Nicaragua:

[2] I don’t claim to be anything but a cynic. But I’m smart enough to know that change is needed and that we won’t get it from people like me who don’t believe it’s possible. This is my idea of a bumper sticker: Fuck America!

Absurdity Today

Julianna ForlanoJulianna Forlano, a stand-up comedian out of Brooklyn, has created a regular (every 2-4 weeks) YouTube show called Absurdity Today or “Ironic News Report.” She’s been doing it for a bit over a year with good results. Her shtick is low key sarcasm—a refreshing change of pace from the fiercely perky demeanor of many of today’s vlog stars.

Despite solid production values, the show has not managed to get of the 5,000 view ghetto that I call, “Things Frank thinks are worth watching that aren’t baby otters.” But unlike Paul Day’s brilliant Billy Bob Neck videos, Absurdity Today would seem to have more potential to go big. She was embedded recently Crooks and Liars, which is huge. We look forward to her success.

SCOTUS Sasquatch Uphold ACA!

Just so you don’t think that I’m hiding from my incorrect prediction regarding the SCOTUS ACA ruling, I’m bringing you Avedon Carol’s correct prediction:

Carol is right: it is all about corporate profits. I don’t buy all the discussion to the effect that Roberts is trying to save the legitimacy of the court. What is surprising about the ruling is that the other conservatives not only dissented but the ferocity of that dissent. That in itself calls the legitimacy of the court into doubt: four members of the court were willing to throw their traditional beliefs aside in the name of partisan attacks.

I’ve also been hearing a lot of people suggest that Roberts might be more moderate than was suspected. This is nonsense. Roberts is a traditional conservative justice: in favor of corporate power, skeptical of individual rights. It is funny how people are forever searching for the conservative moderate, a species with less evidence for its existence than sasquatch. There are conservative moderates, but today they are called liberals, and in some cases, socialists.

What’s that sound? It reminds me of a crumbling empire! When empires crumble, you know who gets crushed? The people on the bottom.

We’re number one! We’re number one!

Update (1 July 2012 10:19 am)

Amy Davidson over at The New Yorker has an excellent article about how Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have shamed Roberts into finding in favor of the ACA. The following quote really struck me, because it cuts to the heart of what I’ve been talking about:

Roberts is also benefiting from an unfortunate tendency on the part of liberals to be overcome by gratitude, and even deeply moved, when a conservative does one decent thing.

Joplin Kills Summertime Every Time

Atrios just put up this video of Janis Joplin with the Kozmic Blues Band performing live in Stockholm. What’s important is that she killed with this song whenever she did it:

The video, like every fifth video on YouTube, has been taken down. Whatever.

The first time I ever heard this song was her singing with Big Brother and the Holding Company on their Cheap Thrills album. When I later heard a standard rendition of the song, I could hardly believe that it was the same song. Very few singers are indisputably great, but Joplin was one of them.

The other thing is: I assume that’s Sam Andrew on guitar and he really sucks. I know it is live and all, but still. What’s more, it really does call into question this idea that Joplin needed a better band than Big Brother. I’m the first to point out their deficiencies (Like Sam Andrew’s guitar playing!), but they played well together and they were unique (just listen to the arrangement, which is theirs). I wish she had stayed with them. If you doubt me, here is the original: