This picture of flesh colored crayons is George Takei’s Facebook meme a few days ago, and it’s a fitting one in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. My first thought in response to the image: “Because only Nixon could go to China.” There are lots of inferential leaps from crayons to Nixon and China, but it’s all about Star Trek’s ambiguous multiculturalism. On the one hand, the message here can be read as a colorblind attitude toward racism and assimilation. On the other, it can be read as something rather radical, and in that regard, George Takei is an excellent spokesperson for the message.Read More →

It’s the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded, for the people who are locked out, all they can do is stare from a distance at that city’s glimmering towers. – Mario Cuomo, 1984 DNC RIP 1/1/2015Read More →

Perhaps it’s because they are hollow that our imaginations can occupy them so easily. That is to say, it is their anti-heroism, their apparent lack of Great Qualities, that make them our size, or even smaller, so that we can stand among them as equals, like Dorothy among the Munchkins. – Salman Rushdie, Step Across the Line Referring to the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion of the Oz movieRead More →

Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom toRead More →

Today’s Times Book Review section has a nicely written, humorous article on Ben Franklin and his Almanac: Ben Franklin is a Big Fat Idiot. The title makes it mandatory reading given my utter adoration of Al Franken. In fact, the author, Joe Queenan, seems to have a similar crush on Franklin. To his disappointment, Queenan discovers that the Almanac was not nearly as inspirational as he remembered, so he laments the resulting bit of tarnish on Franklin’s halo. His claims that Franklin’s aphorisms fail “the acid test of validity and usefulness.” Take this one, for example: “Keep your mouth wet, feet dry.” The first thingRead More →

I’m entirely jealous of the people of Minnesota on a daily basis. I have friended/liked Al Franken’s Facebook page, and so Franken sends me posts about his work several times a day. Jealous, jealous, jealous. He does so much good, progressive work, and he’s damned hard-nosed about it. Vitter sends me regular emails too, because I signed up for his newsletter for some stupid reason. They are nothing but grandstanding. I reply to his emails telling him so on a regular basis. Vitter’s last email announcement praised his efforts to pressure “the administration” (by which he presumably means Obama) to send in the Fish andRead More →