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Working Mother’s Best of Congress awards

September 10, 2008 | Ethics,Journalism,PR,Working Mother

Remember back in November 2007 when Working Mother announced that it would be accepting applications for its Best of Congress awards to be given this fall? Well, that time is here. They were announced in the August/September issue, and they were celebrated at a this morning in Washington, D.C.

P.S. Carolyn B. Maloney is on the list.

If you missed how this worked with the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers, here’s some of the PR buzz about the “Best of Congress” awards.

From a press release:

Fifty members of Congress submitted applications for this inaugural award. Applicants were judged on their voting record, sponsored/co-sponsored legislation, and efforts to promote legislation that supports working families. In addition, applicants were asked to submit policies and practices within their own offices that support working families and flexible workplace options.

From FAQs about the awards:

Q: What will they get when they win?
A: Winning Members of Congress will be:
• Profiled in the September 2008 issue of Working Mother magazine;
• Honored at a gala dinner in September 2008.
• Highlighted in an advertisement to run on the day of the gala in the Washington Post or Roll Call and their hometown newspaper.
• Profiled in Corporate Voices’ blog on the Working Mother website;
• Profiled in a press release announcing the winners;
• Highlighted on the websites of Corporate Voices’ 65 strategic partner organizations including the Society for Human Resource Management and the Conference Board.
In addition, CVWF staff will work with the Members office to highlight the award in local state media.
Q: How will this award impact a Members career or campaign?
A: Members of Congress awarded the “Best of Congress” Award will be highlighted when they win, and then again every two years as a past-winner.
Members can highlight their achievements that in Congressional updates to constituents, earned, and paid media.

Also in the FAQs: “Members will also be judged on employment practices or policies in their office that are designed to help working families.”

Listen to CEO Carol Evans speak on NPR about employees “in the trenches” of Congress working “extreme jobs” so of course things aren’t terribly flexible with those jobs. (Also on NPR with Evans were Jolene Ivey and Asra Nomani of Mocha Moms.) But, hey, not every job is made for everyone (working mothers in Congress, perhaps?), but members of Congress offer some “fun flexibility” to help their employees. Even so, they all agreed that “we need more women in Congress.” Hmm. How will that work? When Nomani criticized the lack of “family friendly” efforts in this country, Evans said, but women are excited about their jobs! Umm. OK.

The original press release

Everyone else’s press releases
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio (“hometown coverage“)
Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr., D-Pa
Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn.
Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis. (Here’s his “hometown coverage,” written — with a byline — from a press release generated from his office.)
Sen. Gordon H. Smith, R-Ore.
Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine
Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo.
Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-Conn.
Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa.
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y. (“hometown coverage“)
Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio
Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash.
Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Md.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, D-Pa.
Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. (announced on his Facebook page)
Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, D-Calif.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif.
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky.

Posted by Becky @ 1:45 pm | Comments  

Rumors of housekeeping have been greatly exaggerated*

August 1, 2008 | Journalism,Media,MSM,Research,Statistics

This headline was on the front page of my newspaper this morning: “‘Clean Enough’ Is New Housekeeping Standard.” My newspaper didn’t archive it online, but it’s a McClatchy article written by Federica Narancio.

In my own little upside-down world, I imagine that instead of this …

Many women who work outside the home, including those with helpful kids and husbands, have come up with a new housekeeping standard, according to sociologists and family relations experts. It’s called “clean enough.”

the first paragraph would read like this …

Many men who work outside the home, including those with helpful kids and wives, have come up with a new housekeeping standard, according to sociologists and family relations experts. It’s called “clean enough.”

And y’all’d be going, “And this is news?”

Right.

*I totally ripped off the headline for this post from a book I just started reading: Rumors of our Progress have been Greatly Exaggerated by Carolyn B. Maloney.

One of the first things I highlighted came after she talked about $54 million damages Morgan Stanley paid in a sex-discrimination case, and she pointed out that the cost might have made the company work especially hard to do away with discrimination. Yet, in 2007, Morgan Stanley settled another sex-discrimination case for $46 million.

Despite these incidents, Morgan Stanley has been cited numerous times by Working mother magazine as one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. That makes me wonder how bad things are at other companies.

Hmm. Seems Rep. Maloney can smell the BS.

Posted by Becky @ 7:54 pm | 3 Comments  

Leslie Bennetts stars in ‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’

April 18, 2008 | 2008 campaign,Barack Obama,Hillary Clinton,Journalism,Katie Couric,Leslie Bennetts,Media,Politics,Stop the presses!

Leslie Bennetts should activate the Photon Accelerator Annihilation Beam on the Continuum Transfunctioner, save the universe and deliver Breast Enhancement Necklaces to the world.

Because, Dude. Reading the opinion piece she wrote for the New York Post, “Hillary & Katie, Two Women Pioneers … Driven off a Cliff,” is like waking up with a stoner’s hangover and a house full of pudding.

What’s her point? When she writes about everyday, ordinary American women for whom things go wrong, they’re stupid — willfully obtuse parasites who demonstrate for their children that woman is the n***** of the world.

When she writes about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Katie Couric, for whom things — according to Bennetts — have gone wrong, they’re victims. Well-paid, well-heeled victims of the patriarchy that calls for Couric to display her “denuded gams” for her $15 million annual paycheck.

Bennetts says male pundits gleefully deconstruct the “twin debacles” of Clinton and Couric’s “front-page flame-outs,” and she knows exactly who’s at fault.

But there’s plenty of blame to go around, much of which belongs to the male advisors whose catastrophic advice helped steer both women to defeat.

Dude. Because prominent women are, like, totally incapable of making their own decisions.

Bennetts says Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid is a failure.

Dude.

[Looking around nervously … whispering … ]

::::::Don’t tell Clinton!::::::

She will kick your ass. Or, as the Post would have you believe, she will shoot off your face, à la Susan Sarandon‘s Louise Sawyer. Yeah, the Post bobble-headed (yeah, that’s a verb … shut up) Clinton and Katie Couric on a Thelma & Louise publicity photo.

But who knows? Maybe Clinton will step down tomorrow, and I’ll eat my words.

Psych! That’s never gonna happen.

Bennetts says Couric is “one of the toughest interviewers in television.”

At CBS, Couric was the $60 million talent, but the suits who run the network were the geniuses who decided that one of the toughest interviewers in television should be reduced to a nauseating female caricature whose main contribution to her new role was girlish fatuousness, despite the excruciatingly obvious fact that the primary job requirement was gravitas.

Dude. Did you see this interview with Clinton — the one where she asked, “Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?” Yeah. Whew! Tough as nails.

Bennetts says Couric was girly and leggy at the behest of the CBS guys writing her paycheck.

Dude. Because she was never, ever girly or leggy before joining CBS.

Bennetts talks about Manolo Blahnik shoes, an essential element of the Victim Uniform of American Female Failure.

Dude. Does a celebrity writer get a pair of Manolo Blahniks in the mail every time she mentions them?

When the ousted Dan Rather complained that his former broadcast had been “dumbed down and tarted up,” he wasn’t wrong, but nobody ever instructed him to insert cutesy comments about his kids between devastating news segments on the Iraq War, let alone to flash his shapely legs and a titillating glimpse of thigh for the cameras. America remains blessedly unfamiliar with the sight of Rather’s hairy pins — one shudders to think what they’d look like in Manolo Blahniks — but Couric’s denuded gams were accorded such prominence that the male honchos masterminding her show seemed to believe that sexy legs in stilettoes were all that viewers cared about.

Dude. Because Dan Rather‘s opinion still counts. And Rush Limbaugh‘s. And Nora Ephron‘s.

Bennetts says Clinton and Couric are “two of America’s most prominent women.”

Dude. I guess that’s all there is. The rest? Posers. Not prominent at all. You know … like these.

Dude. Victims. Or … maybe they have better male advisers, eh?

And if blaming the patriarchy doesn’t work, Bennetts pulls out the “who’s the worst victim” card.

Lest anyone forget the proper role of women, there were helpful reminders from morons like the heckler shouting “Iron my shirts!” during a Clinton campaign appearance. No white males have yet been recorded yelling “Shine my shoes!” at an Obama event, but of course racism is offensive, whereas we’re supposed to laugh off even the most virulent sexism.

Dude. Because that’s how to eradicate sexism — by saying it’s worse than the racism a black presidential candidate (and an entire population of Americans) deals with every day. Because, you know, sexism can’t stand as an issue on its own. It has to climb on the back of racism to be seen and heard.

With friends like these, famous women scarcely need enemies. But there are more than enough of both to get the job done. And so the glass ceiling cracks a couple more well-coiffed heads, as effortlessly as if they were eggs.

Dude. With “journalists” like Bennetts, putting “prominent” women like Clinton and Couric in the “victim” sandbox, who needs a reason to get out of bed up in the morning? Quick. Someone get me a cosmopolitan and some pills. It’s women’s own fault. Because, as Bennetts said in her book, American women today have the most choices of women at any time in the history of the world. According to this article? Here are those choices.

1) Be stupid.
2) Be a victim.

So, Dude. Click your ruby-red high heels together and make a choice. If you pick the wrong one? Blame your male adviser.

*Click click.*

Posted by Becky @ 9:34 pm | 6 Comments  

Politics: The Telephone Game

February 25, 2008 | 2008 campaign,Barack Obama,Blogging,Ethics,Hillary Clinton,Journalism,Media,MSM,Politics

whisper.jpg

CityMama at the MOMocrats accused Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., of leaking a photograph of Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., wearing a turban. Where did CityMama get her information?

CNN’s Political Ticker.

Where did CNN get its information?

The Drudge Report. (CNN editors: “No need for fact-checking. Get this published now!”)

Where did Drudge get his information?

An e-mail sent by “stressed Clinton staffers” “obtained by the Drudge Report.”

Really? Hmm.

I found the picture published by HAN-Geeska Afrika Online in September 2006. Anyone with a mouse and five minutes could have found it. It’s already been “circulated.”

Posted by Becky @ 11:26 pm | 4 Comments  

Politics: All the world’s a stage

February 18, 2008 | 2008 campaign,Barack Obama,Fundraising,Hillary Clinton,Iraq,John McCain,Journalism,Media,MSM,Politics,SNL

dramacomedy2.jpg

I watched Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., on Saturday Night Live. Again. It was a rerun from his October 2007 appearance. He wore an Obama mask (it was the Halloween show), took it off to reveal … (surprise!) Obama … and shouted the famed phrase, “Live! From New York! It’s Saturday Night!

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Wait. When did that happen? Didn’t politicians used to wait until they were out of office before doing SNL?

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Bob Dole appeared on SNL in 1996 after he lost his bid for president. George Herbert Walker Bush appeared on SNL in 1994 (after his presidential term) and 2000.

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What is this? The Fred Thompson effect? Arnold Schwarzenegger? Jesse Ventura? Or was it Ronald Reagan? And why do they all scramble to appear on The Colbert Report, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Real Time with Bill Maher? Is it because mainstream news has become such a joke that the fake news is more exciting?

Some ask if the Obama appearance constitutes an SNL endorsement. So I wondered how much money SNL producer Lorne Michaels gave to Obama. Interestingly enough, he’s given quite a bit to … Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Speaking of McCain, he was apparently the first elected official to host SNL — while in office — in 2005. He even sang Barbra Streisand songs. In 2002, he joked about impending war. Because, you know, war is funny. I mean, gosh, if you can’t laugh at war, what can you laugh at? What’s next, John? A waterboarding skit?

The line between politicians and celebrities blurs and sometimes disappears with celebrity endorsements as the big news of the day. They line up behind their politicians, and regular folks are supposed to care.

Updated: Mike Huckabee was on SNL this weekend.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

mayaangelou-2.jpgamericaferrera-2.jpgquincyjones.jpgbilliejeanking-2.jpgjacknicholson.jpg
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(Click on the pictures to see political donations.)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., has been endorsed (so far) by Maya Angelou, America Ferrera, Quincy Jones, Billie Jean King, Jack Nicholson, Rob Reiner, Kimora Lee Simmons, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Amber Tamblyn.

John McCain

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McCain has been endorsed (so far) by Curt Schilling, Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Barack Obama

halleberry-2.jpgzachbraff-2.jpgkenburns-2.jpggeorgeclooney-2.jpglarrydavid-2.jpgrobertdeniro-2.jpghillharper-2.jpgscarlett-johansson-2.jpgsheilajohnson-2.jpgdavematthews-2.jpgkalpenn-2.jpgchrisrock-2.jpgwillsmith-2.jpgmariashriver-2.jpgkathleenturner-2.jpgusher-2.jpgforestwhitaker-2.jpgkeishwhitaker-2.jpgjameswhitmore-2.jpgoprah-2.jpg

Obama has been endorsed (so far) by Halle Berry, Zach Braff, Ken Burns, George Clooney, Larry David, Robert De Niro (but he’s given $14,200 to Hillary Clinton), Hill Harper, Scarlett Johansson, Sheila Johnson, Dave Matthews, Kal Penn, Chris Rock, Will Smith, Maria Shriver, Kathleen Turner, Usher, Forest Whitaker, Keisha Whitaker, James Whitmore and — in case you missed it — Oprah Winfrey.

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Enter will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and Yes We Can.

Can what, Sam I Am … I mean … will.i.am? Oh, right. You bring your cocoa puff, I’ll bring my lovely lady lumps … get you drunk, make you scream, get you spendin’ all your money … riiiiiiight … umm, sure … yes.we.can, will.i.am.

Black Eyed Peas
My Humps
Monkey Business, 2005

What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps (Check it out)

I drive these brothers crazy,
I do it on the daily,
They treat me really nicely,
They buy me all these ices.
Dolce & Gabbana,
Fendi and NaDonna
Karan, they be sharin’
All their money got me wearin’ fly
Brother I ain’t askin,
They say they love my ass ‘n,
Seven Jeans, True Religion’s,
I say no, but they keep givin’
So I keep on takin’
And no I ain’t taken
We can keep on datin’
I keep on demonstrating.

My love (love), my love, my love, my love (love)
You love my lady lumps (love),
My hump, my hump, my hump (love),
My humps they got you,

She’s got me spending.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me and spending time on me.
She’s got me spendin’.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me, up on me, on me

What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
What you gon’ do with all that ass?
All that ass inside them jeans?
I’m a make, make, make, make you scream
Make you scream, make you scream.
Cos of my hump (ha), my hump, my hump, my hump (what).
My hump, my hump, my hump (ha), my lovely lady lumps (Check it out)

I met a girl down at the disco.
She said hey, hey, hey yea let’s go.
I could be your baby, you can be my honey
Let’s spend time not money.
I mix your milk wit my cocoa puff,
Milky, milky cocoa,
Mix your milk with my cocoa puff, milky, milky riiiiiiight.

They say I’m really sexy,
The boys they wanna sex me.
They always standing next to me,
Always dancing next to me,
Tryin’ a feel my hump, hump.
Lookin’ at my lump, lump.
You can look but you can’t touch it,
If you touch it I’ma start some drama,
You don’t want no drama,
No, no drama, no, no, no, no drama
So don’t pull on my hand boy,
You ain’t my man, boy,
I’m just tryn’a dance boy,
And move my hump.

My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump.
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
My lovely lady lumps (lumps)
In the back and in the front (lumps)
My lovin’ got you,

She’s got me spendin’.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me and spending time on me.
She’s got me spendin’.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me, up on me, on me.

What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
What you gon’ do with all that ass?
All that ass inside them jeans?
I’ma make, make, make, make you scream
Make you scream, make you scream.
What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get you drunk,
Get you love drunk off this hump.
What you gon’ do wit all that breast?
All that breast inside that shirt?
I’ma make, make, make, make you work
Make you work, work, make you work.

(A-ha, a-ha, a-ha, a-ha) [x4]

She’s got me spendin’.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me and spendin’ time on me
She’s got me spendin’.
(Oh) Spendin’ all your money on me, up on me, on me.

(And that won a Grammy.)

Updated to add:

Thank you, Todd, at The Bullshit Observer.

Posted by Becky @ 11:24 pm | 6 Comments  

Because this will help make an informed decision

February 11, 2008 | 2008 campaign,Hillary Clinton,Journalism,Katie Couric,Media,Politics,Television

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CBS anchor Katie Couric interviewed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., on Feb. 10, 2008, for 60 Minutes.

“What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?” Couric asked.

“Not always raising my hand,” the senator replied, laughing.

“Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?” Couric asked.

“Only with some boys,” Clinton said, laughing.

“I don’t know if I want to hear the back story on that!” Couric said.[*]

“Well, you wouldn’t want to know the boys either,” Clinton said, laughing.[**]

Hat tip: NewsBusters

*Oh, Katie. You know you do.

**Inappropriately?

Posted by Becky @ 10:20 am | 3 Comments  

New stuff to love on the Internet

January 30, 2008 | Blogging,Journalism,Media,Photography

I’m still catching up on Blogland through my feeder. Yes, still. (But, then, I’m still digging myself out of the Nightmare in Norway hole … )

Anyway.

I found a new site called Full Frontal Scrutiny, which “exposes” (get it?) front groups. (After my “Tricky Dick” search, I had to laugh when I saw the latest post is called “Tricky Wiki: How Public Relations Companies Try to Spin Wikipedia.”) It’s run by Consumer Reports WebWatch and the Center for Media and Democracy. Hat tip: Center for Citizen Media.

One of the bloggers I stalk read started a new photo blog, called Say Chee.se. (She’s in Sweden … .se … get it?) She also blogs at The Many Faces of L, Citizen Media Watch and Skriva.net. (Yes, they’re all in my feeder.)

Speaking of photos, I saw a cool project on Soule Mama called “30 days.” It’s 30 days of photographs of ordinary, everyday things. Kerflop‘s doing it too. I learned about it on BeanPaste. Updated: Photography blogs, Shutter Sisters and Looking Into.

Posted by Becky @ 11:23 pm | 1 Comment  

Iowa: Smelling the Fear and the Hope

January 5, 2008 | 2008 campaign,Guest blogger,Journalism,Politics

Hello everyone, this is Keith, otherwise known as The Bad American, guest blogging here at Deep Muck Big Rake for today.

I have to say looking at all the guest bloggers that have blogged before me, I feel honored and not the least intimidated to join this august group. Thanks again Becky for the opportunity.

I was at a loss as to what to write about today. I saw this wonderful piece by John Hockenberry, which I will link to here because I feel anyone with a passing familiarity or experience with the major media can both appreciate Hockenberry’s lament and commiserate with it.

Rather than write a 1,000 word pontification on the article, let me, for once, be succinct: no one who works for big media should expect to cover, produce, write or otherwise disseminate, any news that does not reflect the biases, prejudices, politics and financial interests of Corporate America.

The truth is out there, Scully. And it’s probably on a blog.

But let’s get to what everyone seems to be wondering in the wake of the news from Thursday: how long will they hold Britney Spears?

Kidding, kidding.

No, something serious: a 92 percent Caucasian state sends Barack Obama to New Hampshire (another lily white state) as the front-runner and suddenly Queen Hillary doesn’t seem so inevitable.

Should we allow ourselves a bit of irrational exuberance?

Well, perhaps. Let’s be honest about the situation: Obama played Iowa beautifully. Having lived in the state for three years before moving back to Ohio, the state rewards straight shooters and plain speakers. They do not cotton to those who double speak, look too well oiled or rehearsed, and show up to hay bailing in immaculately pressed overalls. Iowans know bullshit when then see it. What they saw in Obama was nothing but someone they think might make a very decent President.

And after all the bludgeoning by the Clinton machine, they grew tired of her act. It’s not that Iowans have something against the idea of another Clinton: Iowa Democrats are still wild about Bill. It’s just that Hillary Clinton, like relatives and fish, did not wear well.

It doesn’t mean New Hampshire won’t put her back in the lead — they just might. But it’s a cautionary tale when campaigning “out there”: Midwesterners have a lower threshold for production values than they do on the coasts. Learn it.

And if Obama hadn’t been so damned fresh and Kennedy-esque, the state might have rewarded John Edwards with a big win. Iowans generally like the South Carolinian but his populist message was driven home a little too late. When Barack Obama is the flavor of the year, me-tooism isn’t going to get your first place ticket punched.

And yet, the most fascinating aspect of the Iowa caucus was the amazing story of Mike Huckabee.

The real story here isn’t just Huckabee as the flavor of the week, nor is that Iowa’s evangelical Christians gave Huck the big push.

That’s all true. But what floors me as a former religion journalist in Cedar Rapids is that Huckabee’s brand of evangelical Christianity is closer to Jimmy Carter’s than Pat Robertson’s.

Mike Huckabee might have floating crosses traipsing across his ads but he has a social conscience that his giving the rest of the conservative Republicans the fits.

Link to this Paul Szep cartoon

The amazing thing that happened in that, at some point, maybe under undue prodding from folks like Rick Warren, a major faction of Christian Conservatives looked down at those WWJD bracelets and the thought hit them: maybe Jesus wouldn’t be for a capital gains tax cut after all. Maybe, just maybe, there was a little bit more to life than the mindless pursuit of material wealth.

But try telling it to the minders of the so-called “Reagan revolution.”

These guardians of wealth and privilege are rising from the muck to remind their yokel fellow travelers that all the God talk might be nice for the campaign trail but the real reason people are on the GOP train is greed.

Hugh Hewitt sees Huckabee as a stalking horse for pro-John McCain forces who used Huck’s Christian conservative base to decapitate Mitt Romney in Iowa and set up McCain for New Hampshire. But Hewitt sees something else even more dastardly afoot:

“Third, the conservative activists have to realize that there is an attempted coup under way. (The New York Times Columnist David) Brooks attacks by name Wall Street and K Street, Rush Limbaugh, The Club for Growth and President Bush, asserting that they constitute the “leadership class,” and that Huckabee’s war on them all was fueled by a knowledge of “how middle-class anxiety is really lived.” Brooks adds that Huck is forging:

A conservatism that loves capitalism but distrusts capitalists is not hard to imagine either. Adam Smith felt this way. A conservatism that pays attention to people making less than $50,000 a year is the only conservatism worth defending.

What utter nonsense. Did the tax cuts help families making less than $50 K a year? Did the prescription drug benefit? Does not getting attacked since 9/11 benefit only the middle and upper classes?

Will such neopopulism work? Nah. Even Brooks disowns it in the space of a couple of lines. Here is one of the most cynical graphs ever written on the day after an election:

Will Huckabee move on and lead this new conservatism? Highly doubtful. The past few weeks have exposed his serious flaws as a presidential candidate. His foreign policy knowledge is minimal. His lapses into amateurishness simply won’t fly in a national campaign.

Let me translate the NewYorkTimes-speak: “Thanks, you bozos in the sticks. We played you like a fiddle. Now it is time to bleed your guy to get our guy.”

Utter nonsense, Mr. Hewitt? The inability of Guardians of the Neo-Con Cabal in the GOP (for that is who they really are) to remove their bloated heads from their asses and smell the fear has already cost them Iowa and may possibly cost them their boy’s (Mitt’s) shot at the nomination.

All because a group of people are suddenly becoming the kind of Republicans Pat Buchanan had been envisioning for the last 15 years. Rampant job-killing free-trade agreements, hopelessly bloody foreign wars and a culture of turn a fast buck at all costs are suddenly far less popular in the Heartland.

And all it took was the near total destruction of the US dollar, US economy and US military to get the slumbering masses to realize they’d been suckered by the ghost of failed Reaganism — “trickle down” turned into a torrent of foreclosures, flag-draped caskets and unemployment lines. And now they want to set the ship straight.

Here’s Rush Limbaugh’s little brother David’s take:

“Far too many people believe we can continue to piggyback on our legacy of freedom, which is made possible by limited government no matter how big and intrusive government becomes. They believe we can undermine, with impunity, the constitutional pillars that guaranty our liberties, apparently assuming our glorious experiment in constitutional governance was an accident of geography or demographics rather than ideas. They believe we will always be the world’s lone superpower irrespective of whether we commit our spirit and resources to that effort. It’s just manifest destiny — or magic. Consider, for example, those who interpret our prevention of further major terrorist attacks on our soil since 9/11 as proof the threat has diminished, or perhaps was overblown from the beginning.

We expect liberals to believe: We can punish the producers in this nation without reducing overall output and hurting all economic groups; we can socialize health care without destroying its quality, quantity and affordability; we can assault our traditional values and cultural institutions without eroding the nation’s character; unbridled, illegal immigration without assimilation will lead to multicultural Nirvana; and we will be secure at home if we’ll just be nicer to foreign nations and more sensitive to the terrorists’ concerns.

But what about conservatives? Do we also need a reminder that free nations are the exception in world history and that our liberty was purchased with the greatest sacrifices and will ultimately disappear without a rededication to our founding principles?

Whoa, someone get Dave some smelling salts. You’d think the Red Army had already hit America’s shores and was working their way inland. All that bloviating from Huckabee winning Iowa — are they really this scared?

There are many other examples of this hyperventilating going on from the pro-war, pro-plutocracy neo-cons online. This link has a good number of examples. You won’t know whether to laugh, cheer or hurl.

What amazes me is that, as a liberal, I look at Huckabee, with his young Earth theories, Biblical literalism and anti-intellectualism as a smiling, yet dangerous threat to take America back to the dark ages a good deal faster than even the Bush gang.

But isn’t it fascinating that when the ChristCons start making noises that they might be ready to, at least in some ways, use their political clout to live out the Gospel as Jesus taught it — compassion for the less fortunate — that their “friends” rise up to drag them back to the right side of the plantation.

So have we really ripped the smiling face off the monster of the Reagan Revolution? Behind the grinning face of God-fearing, Middle Class white America, when you strip out all the bullshit niceties, it’s really, at core, all about the Military-Industrial complex raping and pillaging the planet.

I know: well, duh!But the cons have done such a good job selling the “rising tide lifts all boats” nonsense for so long that many religiously devout Americans have really believed that Jesus wanted savage wealth inequalities, social persecution and worldwide wars and that such things were good for America, GM, and the planet.

Now all that’s left is Rush Limbaugh screaming that it’s all about the guns and the money. And it always was.

So take heart, fellow progressives. Between the rise of Obama and the last protective masks being ripped from a ghoulish and soul killing political chicanery, there is at last, if perhaps for a fleeting moment, some reason for a little optimism.

But the neo-cons will not go quietly. And they are counting on the American public, dumbed down by years of being mis-taught their history, of falling for the same old scare tactics again and again. And in the end, they may be right.

But the American progressives have the opportunity now to really step forward and, if the future be Obama, keep him to his promises and especially to make sure that this rise of populism du jour isn’t just used as a fancy way of whipping up the disaffected but translates into actual policy that undoes years of damage to our body politic and social fabric.

And I’ve been reluctant to jump on Obama’s bandwagon. Then I read this post by Geoffrey R. Stone in Huffpo which contained this excerpt:

Shortly after Obama announced his candidacy for the Senate, I attended (and, indeed, co-hosted) a major fundraising event in Chicago for the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation. At one point, I spotted Obama moving gracefully through the crowd, chatting amiably with each individual, dutifully pressing the flesh. As I observed him, I thought to myself, “What a waste. This is demeaning. Barack should forget politics and become a full-time law professor. Then he could really make something of himself.”

A few minutes later, I found myself standing next to Obama at the shrimp bowl. Although it was really none of my business, I decided to impart some of my wisdom. “Barack,” I said, “I’ve been watching you out there, making nice to all these folks. Why are you doing this? Given the realities of politics, you know as well as I that there’s no chance you’ll get the nomination, let alone defeat (Senator Patrick) Fitzgerald. Why don’t you just pack all this in and accept a full-time position on the faculty?” Barack smiled and thoughtfully replied, “Geof, I know where you’re coming from, but, you know, I have to do this. I believe I can make a difference. I have a responsibility to try.” As he blended back into the crowd, I thought, “What a waste.”

Read again the quote I highlighted. Suck it in just a little. I have to assume the quote is true and the sentiments behind it are honest and heartfelt.

And I am stunned, that in a age of selfishness, crassness and a general feeling that all politicians are ego-serving power-trippers here comes someone who honestly believes that with the intellectual gifts he has been given and developed, comes great responsibility and a calling to, as hokey as it sounds, leave the world a better place.

So for Obama and his legion of starry-eyed children, this will take a lot of work and will not be for weak hearts. After all, Alan Nairn on Democracy Now alleges warmonger Zbigniew Brzezinski is advising Obama on foreign policy (as he did Jimmy Carter) and the specter of super delegatesmake the possibility of a very un-democratic outcome. But this moment in time may represent our last best chance to turn back the march to total corporatism/fascism that threatens to place our nation and our planet on an irretrievable course to destruction.

And we all need to seize this moment now.

Posted by Keith @ 5:08 pm | Comments  

Have A Very Bloggy 2008

December 31, 2007 | Blogging,Guest blogger,Guest post,Journalism

Adam TinworthHello and a Happy Hogmanay to all readers of Deep Muck Big Rake. I’m Adam Tinworth of One Man & His Blog, and I’m another one of those blogging journalists that’s doing the rounds right now. And you’re stuck with me for your final post here of 2007. And I’m stuck with writing a post that no-one will read, because they’re too busy getting drunk, or recovering from a hangover, to be bothered with the interwebs. Ah, well. Never mind. Writing stuff nobody reads is what journalists are used to, goddamit! It’s a tradition!

So, let’s be traditional about this. Let’s do a “look back at the year” post. It’s what most publications do at this time of the year, after all. Why? Well, they’re easy, and you can knock them off in a morning before heading off to a boozy pre-Christmas lunch and an extended Christmas holiday while the sub-editors try and turn it into something readable during your holidays.

And what a year 2007’s been. I’ve been blogging since 2001, and blogging seriously since 2003. In those early days, a blogging journalist was a pretty rare creature. In the year just gone, they’re everywhere. And I mean everywhere. You can barely go to a magazine or newspaper website these days without being invited to read some hack or other’s latest musings on the day’s events.

Now, let’s be honest. Not all of these blogs are created equal. Some of them are pretty clearly done under duress. (“Write a blog post this morning, or we’ll take your whisky away from you.” “Noooooo! Anything but that!”) And some of them are just plain crap. No two ways about it, some hacks just can’t write without subs to pick up their backs. But it’s a start. And the more the journos blog, the more they get the hang of a conversation, rather than just talking at people. Hey, the sheer fact that there are various of us here writing guest posts on Becky’s blog shows that some of us have learned to do the conversation thing.

And it’s not before time.

(more…)

Posted by Adam @ 2:23 pm | 7 Comments  

Accepting the quiet, by Wendy Hoke

December 29, 2007 | Books,Guest blogger,Guest post,Journalism

What an honor and a thrill to be asked to guest blog here at Deep Muck Big Rake. I’m a freelance journalist who also writes at Creative Ink and I’m happy to count Becky among my regular readers. I’ve not written there lately because I’m attempting a vacation.

Problem is, I’m a needy writer and so when things get quiet, I get nervous. Makes no sense, you see, because I’m working on several ongoing projects and have another story due next Friday and got an e-mail this morning about doing some editing on another book project. So I should really just learn to accept and enjoy the quiet.

This may not be true for every writer, but I need to unplug from time to time to recharge the creative batteries. For inspiration, I’ve turned this week to “The Gay Talese Reader: Portraits & Encounters.” Last March, I had the privilege of meeting him at a storytelling workshop in Anniston, Ala.

With the exception of “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” I hadn’t really read any of his work. I mean, I was familiar with all the titles, “The Kingdom and the Power,” “Honor Thy Father,” and his notable profiles of boxers and baseball players. But I hadn’t really read his work.

I still believe that the Frank Sinatra/Esquire piece has tremendous resonance and stands as a model for reporting. Not all of his pieces in this book struck me the same way. However, the piece about Floyd Patterson (“The Loser”) was heartrending in its simplicity.

As a nonfiction writer, I find his reporting astounding, asking myself what questions he asked to get certain information, or wondering where he was standing in a room when he observed certain things, or what he’s looking for when he scans a room or a place and what particular details of a person fill his notebooks.

He reveals some of his trade secrets in a piece called, “Origins of a Nonfiction Writer,” and some of the details written here about being a boy in his mother’s dress shop in New Jersey, he shared with journalists in Anniston last March.

“The shop was a kind of talk show that flowed around the engaging manner and well-timed questions of my mother; and as a boy not much taller than the counters behind which I used to pause and eavesdrop. I learned much that would be useful to me years later when I began interviewing people for articles and books.

“I learned to listen with patience and care, and never to interrupt even when people were having great difficulty in explaining themselves, for during such halting and imprecise moments (as the listening skills of my patient mother taught me) people often are very revealing—what they hesitate to talk about can tell much about them. Their pauses, their evasions, their sudden shifts in subject matter are likely indicators of what embarrasses them, or irritates them, or what they regard as too private or imprudent to be disclosed to another person at that particular time. However, I also overheard many people discussing candidly with my mother what they had earlier avoided—a reaction that I think had less to do with her inquiring nature or sensitively posed questions than with their gradual acceptance of her as a trustworthy individual in whom they could confide. My mother’s best customers were women less in need of new dresses than the need to communicate.”

Too often, Talese is credited with founding, “The New Journalism,” so labeled by Tom Wolfe. But Talese steadfastly rejects such labels, maintaining now—and then–that what he was doing didn’t involved any new style. It was simply storytelling as we all know it (using scenes, dialogue, description, etc.) in a nonfiction format.

What interests me most about Talese, and frankly when I find his work most moving, is not those celebrated profiles of notable personalities, but his portraits of the ordinary people. His “unnoticed things” of New York City, his decision to talk about the Selma riots with white members of a local country club, his decision to write about losers more often than winners.

I turned to Talese for quiet inspiration this week and did not fail to deliver.

Posted by Wendy @ 12:37 pm | 2 Comments  


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