why liberals suck (at being liberals)

I like listening to books-on-tape in the car. This is probably because I’m getting older and can’t stand most of the music played for “kids these days” on the radio. I wouldn’t mind listening to more talk radio if I could find someone who shared my biases. Even that darn NPR is too far to the right for me with its nutty journalistic commitment to “balance.” Please! You can’t “balance” the truth with a bunch of lies.

The last couple of weeks I have been making my way through a recorded version of James Carville and Paul Begala’s book, Take it Back. The idea of the book is to call Democrats on the carpet for (1) being wimps that need a backbone transplant, (2) being too darn complicated in their approach to their message, and (3) just generally being intellectually elitist in their attitudes.

That’s a message that the Dems need to be hear, but I’m having trouble getting through the book because its tone is so insufferable. It’s ironic in a way, because despite their attempts to seem all down-homey (the CD starts with some nice banjo playing), they end up being just as condescending as the wimps they’re attacking. It’s also pretty easy to call other people wimps when you don’t have much to lose. And, despite the fact that the most-used phrase in the book is, “It’s simple,” they end up dealing with an extremely wide array of issues that I can’t even keep track of (we’re talking five full-length CD’s).

In the end, these guys end up proving their own point and demonstrate exactly why liberals can’t make it on the talk radio circuit: They’re boring. There are a lot of ways to be boring including getting into complications and details no one can follow, not giving people a take-home sound bite, and just generally yammering on about things people don’t really care about that much. But these guys’ biggest problem is they can’t write or tell a joke that’s worth a damn.

The “best” one I’ve heard so far: “They [the dems] are, in our view, like the proverbial blind people examining the donkey…Hey! We’re Democrats and we can’t very well use an elephant analogy!”

I think if I ever run for president, a good fraction of my campaign budget is going to be used to hire Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld to write jokes for me.

happy thanksgiving

A lovely hush has come over the blog, and my email inbox, this Thanksgiving holiday, as all you Americans take a break from your internet duties to (hopefully) remember what we are all working so hard for. Though up north our Thanksgiving is a distant memory (mmm…homemade biscuits…), it is nice to realize why the volume has gone down so suddenly.

While you’re still calmly reflecting on all that you have, and before you start the frenzy of preparations for the next big holiday, why don’t you head over to mom’s fabulous blog to get some great ideas for gifts that are more about bringing joy than developing brand loyalty. After all, there are only 33 more crafting days until Christmas.

allergic to conflict

Yesterday my son (B) – who’s eight – and I waited for an hour and twenty minutes to see a doctor. We weren’t in the emergency room or anything, we hadn’t been triaged to the end of the list. We had an appointment, and the doctor was an allergist.

While we spent some time working on his homework and some taking turns with riddles, we didn’t have nearly enough to entertain us as we waited in the exam room. I lent my son the article I was reviewing and he drew all over the blank sides while I caught up on reading. Soon all the reading was done, there were no clean pages left to draw on, and we were still waiting.

I was annoyed. My son was irate.

Continue reading “allergic to conflict”

another oratorical misadventure

I spoke at Northwestern’s proseminar for first-year graduate students yesterday. You know that family dinner scene in Say Anything where Lloyd Dobbler realizes he’s started off badly and tries to talk his way out of it and comes across worse and then tries to talk his way out of that and comes across worse still? That’s me. If only I had been holding a boombox over my head and it was pouring rain in the seminar room, I would have been Lloyd Dobbler exactly. Seriously, by the end I felt like somebody who was coming across like he had just stepped off the mothership, and I’m not talking the P-Funk Mothership. Continue reading “another oratorical misadventure”

public sociology

Hello everyone. I’m new at this. My first thoughts are about how “out” to be. Now that I do a lot of public sociology, I have a public personna to consider. How much can I say to the web about the interesting things I’ve observed without delegitmating myself and my work? Much of what I spend a lot of time thinking about is race relations in the US, due to my teaching and public work, and I hope to write about this as I think I have had thoughts and experiences different from a lot of White people’s. But I worry about saying something in public that will seem condescending or insulting to the people I am writing about. I have to think about just how public this forum us. I was up most of the night preparing much-overdue reports for the commission I’m on. Somehow a couple of dozen of us have to agree on a report, and we have not had much time to work on it. Many of us said, “why don’t we just send email drafts around?” Turns out some people are very worried about drafts circulating. Partly we are subject to open records laws. Partly there are concerns that anything that is emailed can get forwarded to who knows who and that people would start criticizing the report before we even get it written. There are people who have already written editorials against what they expect us to say. So getting the work done is that much harder. This relates to a second point. While the political culture in my home town (which for now I’ll call Universityville) Continue reading “public sociology”