Rock Bottom

unknown Let the Games begin!  As a nation, the United States (yes, all the states) of America (the continent we share with Canada and Central America), we have hit rock bottom — or very close to it. Here are the Headlines: Kavanaugh (a.k.a. “the Trigger”); Democrats take Midterms; and 2020 goes to . . . the Democratic nominee, of course. Social movements against Trump are NOW thriving.  Two cheers for that. P.S. I was sorry I missed my U.S. Capitol Page High School Reunion.  I’m not going to share the graduation date, haha.

Why does WNYC/PBS in NYC think all public intellectual interviewers are men? — Don’t pledge until we all hear more diverse voices



Top 10, Top 20, Top 100 — you find your list.  Or even rely on Richard Posner‘s pre-9/11 list, and public intellectuals who are not SLAMs or SCAMs (and not fiction writers) are not women.  They are the default identity: straight liberal Anglo men or straight conservative men — the defaults or the embodiments of the “norms,” the 5 percenters.

I’ve been teaching this in Writing Politics for so many years it gets boring, old, trite, frustrating, maddening . . . oops, now I sound like a w/b-itch . . . something not nice, I suppose.  The first repair is please, please, please let’s forget Charlie Rose and Leonard Lopate and John Hockenberry and start filling the NYC airwaves with women public-intellectual interviewers.

The second repair — stop featuring how difficult it is to spot sexual harassment.  The definition is very, very clear, and the difference between civil and criminal law is VERY basic, yet even Brian Lehrer seem to have a problem with this.

The first thing is that you can’t say you didn’t know it was happening (male or female bosses either).  Indeed, the only reason sexual harassment — not pay inequity, nor paycheck discrimination — has had any impact since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is that the federal courts (including the Supremes) put their employers/managers/co-workers on the hook.  The whole head-in-the-sand approach doesn’t work — in CIVIL law (not criminal law, needless to say; criminal law carries a higher burden).

Aren’t we in the Anita Hill moment for public television and public radio, meaning her bravery despite Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas taking a seat was worth it?  Without her, NOW would not have increased and sexual harassment would have remained obscure (even though the press still can’t get a definition of it . . . or explain the difference between sexual crimes and civil crimes).

Here’s an exercise.  Compare the Forbes 400 with any top list of PUBLIC intellectuals and you might well find yourself on a stick, a broom, etc.  You get the idea.

Now, I get it for Roger Ailes/Rupert Murdoch’s baby Fox News(?), but public radio and public television, particularly in New York City, being conducted or run by mainly men?

To be sure, Terry Gross could don a cool cape and fly from station to station, but she’s only one person. . .

Here’s my challenge — don’t submit your pledge until we’ve heard bell hooks, Melissa Harris-Perry, or anyone but Doris Kearns Goodwin* absolutely refuse to interview for these openings.  This could be a call-in or petition campaign we might actually win!

* (who signed more than one settlement for more than one case of plagiarism — or one of the ultimate public intellectual civil crimes — unconscionable in my book 🙂 )

If Nouns and Verbs (Not Pronouns) Could Talk?

Do two queries equal a right, not a wrong?  Or is it right or wrong or vengeance or justice (in French with the accent)? Human rights or the French definition of good citizenship: liberté, égalité, fraternité? We could go on and on. What are costs of imperialism(s) or conquests — not just one, but of the whole globe and around again? Or as one of my colleagues put it about a certain Scottish professor who came west (first New York University, then Harvard, then out to a farm — not Princeton but Stanford), David Marquand’s The End of the West.

For me it’s about reading the New York Times with a sociological lens, yet again.  Nowadays the headlines and sub-headlines do all the work (of reading).

Circle the literary action or the verbs and adverbs on the Page Ones — of the physical paper, section by section, BTW.

  1. backs
  2. surviving
  3. soaring
  4. shamed
  5. spurs
  6. can lead to
  7. rise
  8. fall
  9. restores
  10. blue-chip (names)
  11. speak (Mountains)

Then, the nouns

  1. anomaly
  2. signals
  3. Eve
  4. Mother!
  5. necktie
  6. laxity
  7. rationality
  8. (an) indiscretion
  9. Rebels
  10. reboot

Finally, kudos to Jon Hamm for the flower that gives us a thousand words, or at least one — and that word to think about — over a weekend is peace.  #

Unbending Opposition

apsabuildingstreetview1  Unbent? Not bent or twisted. The New York Times headlines are getting more creative with the paper’s 2020 report out.  Despite all the white faces on the front page above the fold, and the fact that there may soon be more tenured or tenure-track political-science professors than staff journalists (who are being halved again after already being halved 10 years ago, though their ranks are more diverse than political science, by far).  Alas, the white men in power with Trump are white men . . . now even the one white woman went down for plagiarism . . . and now all others are relegated to victimhood as they face us above the fold.

What really gets me, though, is the New York Times‘s and the Washington Post‘s nostalgia. Really? I supposedly drank the Obama Kool-Aid in not supporting HRC, but rather Barack first — in 2008, and certainly got Hillaried/Romneyed for it.

At least as we hit rock bottom, or will see the Faces at the Bottom of the Well, we will be getting great comedy, and real progressivism, or — dare I say it? — even leftism. And who knows, maybe all the SLAMs will admit that women can be funny, (or not,) as there will be no women to parody in this administration. But at least there might be a few women to grope — or I guess we have to wait until those pics start floating in clouds that come down to earth. Time will tell. And even then, it’s rather unseemly to do a pile-on parody of them.  Or should it be: Wars tell all — eventually — even domestic ones.

Let’s Look at It as Presidents in Mirror-Opposite Conversation

th Putting aside the Democrats’ reassessment — or the irony that it’s not the GOP that has to open its tent — and putting aside that we’re no longer a polarized nation . . . and that a realignment of sorts occurred — a more dramatic realignment than most, since it sweeps into power the GOP on every level, the most important one arguably being their clean sweep in the states, as well as the municipalities . . . federalism organized under one party has not been so powerful since the Civil War.  Bracketing all that — another way to look at the polarization/realignment/Democrats as donkeys now all braying is — in conversation, or as a binary.

As President Barack Obama’s politics and identity politics — or the universality of his identity-less politics — put him in the position of being betrayed by many American people, or should I say demonized — denigrated — as the Antichrist, as a boy, as an illegitimate president given the Birther controversy — it’s only fitting that Donald J. Trump (DT) was in conversation and was given Obama’s warm seat.

DT not only participated in the Birther movement, and led it to some extent; he embodies the exact opposite of our sitting lame-duck president, Barack Hussein Obama.  As one friend noted, 9/11 has now been replaced by 11/9 — the day DJT got proclaimed president(-elect).



Trump’s S.L.A.P.P. = G.R.O.P.E. (read GOP Reprisal Opposing Public Exposure; or Grotesque Retribution Opposing Public Exposure).

th-11 G.R.O.P.E. defines Trump’s own version of S.L.A.P.P. litigation (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation.)

The latest S.L.A.P.P. against a former porn star is especially egregious. I’d share the details but this is a G. audience blog. And most people watching the U.S. election have already heard or read this latest American presidency race to the bottom.  So just think about what G.R.O.P.E. could stand for — either GOP Reprisal Opposing Public Exposure; or Grotesque Retribution Opposing Public Exposure.

No matter what, this goes way beyond a civil war against women: It’s now criminal.