ellenkushner: (Joan of Arc)
This opinion piece in the New York Times by Drew Westen (August 7, 2011) really stuck in my mind; I agree with him that storytelling was critical to Obama's election, and that most people are ruled in their hearts by narrative.  Since I really do believe this, his piece - and please read it! - makes me very, very, very sick and sad at the opportunities lost.

A rebuttal in the New Republic helped me balance things a bit.

But I still suspect Westen's right.  
ellenkushner: (Palin Trickster sign)
I find I cannot bear to listen to any clips from that Tea Party w/Palin. I have a visceral, near-panic response when I hear her voice now, which is unexpected; usually, even when I dislike a politician's stand or persona, I don't take it personally. Even when I was shouting, "I hate you, shuddup you moron!" at W., or shuddering at the gooey earnestness of Reagan in my livingroom, it wasn't like this. My lizard brain knows that Palin is The Enemy. She's mean-spirited and ignorant. She's the girl who made fun of you in the school hallway. She's the woman in the small town that my friends left vowing never to return, because it was run by people like her. And now she's rallying her troops . . . .

Yesterday I got into an interesting discussion with Paul Witcover & Greg Feeley over on Facebook, the cream of which I present here (with Greg's permission):

Paul Witcover [shared]: In a speech slamming Obama for using a TelePrompter, Tea-bagger-in-chief Palin tips her hand . . .
Palin's Cheat-Sheet - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan
I was too busy taping away at my laptop to notice this little high-school trick. Having mocked president Obama for using a TelePrompter .... she had to scribble down her priorities as president on her palm.... [photo]

EK: My loathing of Palin knows no bounds. She reminds me of Hitler, and I don't say that lightly.
Read more... )

EK: Greg, thank you. You nailed it for me. Still hyperventilating when I hear that voice, but at least that makes sense of why.

Well, America survived MacCarthy. And Father Coughlin. And a lot of very nasty movements in the 19c that we've forgotten ever happened. But this is the first time I've ever thought, "If this person & her followers ever come to power, I may have to leave" - this despite my mocking my friends who whinged about the re-election of Bush, crying - like Faisal under the Turkish barrage of his camp, or Mother Jones on the picket lines - "Stand and fight!"

So here I type.
ellenkushner: (or What You Will)
Since I couldn't get the insert to play on my response to [livejournal.com profile] rosenhaus' comment in my last post, I'll print it up here:

On the Media
Find Out What It Means To Me
January 16, 2009
President Bush bid his final farewell to the White House press corps on Tuesday. “Through it all,” he told reporters gathered in the briefing room, “I have respected you.” Really? Let’s look at the record.

ellenkushner: (medal)
When GWBush won his second term, I wore black for a week - not in NYC, where this sort of thing is de rigeur, but in Cambridge, Mass., where earth tones predominate. And over the past 4 years I have often had the awful feeling that I was living in a ghastly alternate reality, where everything had gone wrong in the world, and particularly in my country. I'm not a very political animal. My complaints weren't always all that specific; just a general feeling of wrong, wrong, wrong. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be. O please, I begged, Let me jump back on the Time Machine to that point where a man who wasn't a disrespectful idiot was elected instead, one who cared more about the country and its people than about - oh, I dunno, being right or being too stupid to listen to those who actually were. Who did not make our nation and its aspirations a stink in the nostrils of the rest of the world. Nightmare, nightmare, nightmare.

From which there was no awakening until today. [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman has given a lovely account of our inauguration viewing in the company of so many fellow-New Yorkers. I loved Barack's speech (see? already we're buds - just yesterday he was "Obama" to me - maybe it has to do with the size of that screen - all up-close-and-personal...). It was very Sound & Spirit to me: calling on the ancient virtues - and calling them by name! - while urging us to employ them in a new way, for a new world. And when he started extolling the risk-taking labors of our forbears, getting to, "For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops...." I was teary at last. It felt good to be so moved. It felt good to feel included, after so long apart.

I've been saying that no matter who took seat in the White House today, I'd feel huge relief. But with Obama's speech, I am filled with joy. Give me rhetoric, or give me death! And kudos to Rev. Joseph Lowry for some pretty fine stuff himself. I love a man who can quote scripture to good purpose. (Those of you who've never read the Bible because it's that stupid Religious Stuff and never even took "Bible as Literature" and missed all that, yah! boo! sucks! you're ignorant morons! As for Lowry's other references, I refer all to [livejournal.com profile] negothick's informed & informative post.)

I even liked his wife's dress. (Though Aretha's hat is the all-time best ever!!)

When the crowds thinned out some, Delia & I went up to the main, big theatre in Broadway's Symphony Space, in time to catch Bush getting into the helicopter to leave. As the commentators commentated, and the helicopter just sat there, people started chanting, "Go! Go! Go!"

Oh, and he did.

Good morning! Now, what's for breakfast?
ellenkushner: (Palin Trickster sign)
Yeah, I know, I had the same reaction when I walked into the snappy little boutique in the Marais (where I ended up buying a cute little shirt from the discreetly placed sales basket, and [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman bought a very elegant cardigan sweater): "Merde, Obama!"? Was this Frenchwoman telling me she thought my choice for candidate - as evinced by my now-famous Button, worn all over France - was sh*t?

But then I remembered high school - or was it college? - theatre, where we had daringly gone around saying, "Merde!" to one another before a performance, in the belief that it was the way the French said, "Break a leg," i.e., "Good luck!"

Turns out it was true.

I gave her a broad grin, and a thumbs-up.

We flew out of Charles de Gaulle airport (outside Paris) on Tuesday afternoon. The Hindu (I assume; Muslims in India don't wear the red forehead deco, do they? And while "Indian-American" kinda rolls off the tongue, "Indian-French" is a bit of a mouthful) woman checking our passports & asking the ritual security questions before we were allowed to check in asked us if we were heading home to vote. We already voted by absentee ballot, we told her. She fixed us with an intense eye. "And who did you vote for?"

I thought they were only supposed to ask if we'd packed our own bags!

We got home late (good thing we'd voted in advance), and managed to keep our eyes open only long enough to see inconclusive results on TV. Woke up, predictably enough, at 3 a.m., and went to the computer to see the good news. It all felt a bit muzzy and unreal; I took an Ambien, and wasn't at all sure I wouldn't wake up in the morning to find it had all been a dream.

But it's not.

Yesterday, I got a note from my old editor in Paris, from the artsy little Left Bank house, Hoëbeke, that originally translated Thomas the Rhymer into French. I haven't heard from Aline in a couple of years; I didn't even know she knew how to use the e-mail! It was headed "Congratulations!" and I assumed it was going to be about the new review for A la Pointe de l'Epee . . . . but the note read: Just a word to tell you i’m very happy for you and also for the world ! I hope Obama will be a great president !

If marrying Terri out of our house made me feel like the Mother of the Bride, well, getting Obama elected makes me feel like we all just had a new baby over here! Between the folks here dancing in the streets, and the congratulations - and genuine hope and joy pouring in from the rest of the world, it reminds me a bit of the old historical novels where the heralds announce that the queen has borne a son and heir (who will, if we're lucky, turn out to be Charles the Good and not Louis XVI). But, to go all 18c on you, this Queen is Liberty, and her son is the son of Reason & Compassion . . . and has been sent to some excellent schools. Even if he isn't the True Prince we've been hoping for, may he do well enough to make us all proud.

On the last day we were in Paris, I lost my Hebrew Obama button somewhere on the streets. I hope whoever finds it picks it up and is happy. And no worries, as it turns out my mom in Cleveland still has the one she's been wearing. Mom!
ellenkushner: (Palin Trickster sign)
In all last night's excitement over flicking shafts, rovings, hedgehogs and voles, you might have missed my link to Christopher Buckley's blog entry on"The Conservative Case for Obama." Buckley's good, of course, but what I find particularly illuminating and educational are the blog comment responses of other disillusioned Republicans - this one in particular: )

Meanwhile, everyone in my family is sending round the link to Les Misbarack - which is pretty funny (the sending, not the link - it is, indeed, brilliant), considering we're all big classic musical fans, but I don't think any of us have actually seen Les Mis....). I especially like the Palin impersonator as Mme. Thenardier - still Just Plain Folksy, even in Cockney: "...Never know your luck /When there's a free for all, /Here a little pinch, /There a little touch, /Most of them are goners /So they won't miss much!"

Eeek.

What one of my friends says she finds the most scarey about the New Republicans is the way they're using Palin (and of course W)'s phony and attractive "we're just regular folks like you" shticks to enlist the working class in voting for policies that are patently against their own interests.

Never know your luck when there's a free-for-all.
ellenkushner: (Palin Trickster sign)
'Christopher Buckley, of all people, now endorses Obama. (And has resigned from The National Review after the furor resulting from this announcement.)

'Buckley's blog post, "The Conservative Case for Obama," makes interesting reading.' -- personal correspondence from Terri Windling, reprinted here with her permission
ellenkushner: (Default)
Half a year ago, inspired by arts cutbacks in Michigan, I posted a rant about giving money to the arts, and people replied with all sorts of enthusiasm & creativity.

Just six months later, it's a terrifying time to contemplate arts funding, when corporate & foundation grants are likely to be crunched and individual charitable donations running scared. Every little arts organization I know is panicking because some lousy little $500 - $2000 grant they've always gotten that's helped keep them afloat is suddenly turning them down. That said, the Americans for the Arts Action Fund has released its Summary of 2008 Presidential Candidates Arts Positions .

As I type this, I think, Why am I bothering to take the time to post this? Surely all artsy types are by definition lefty Obama supporters, too? So pointing out that Obama has a good arts record and McCain does not is merely preaching to the choir....

But I bet that's not a sure thing at all. I hope not, anyway.

And, oh, by the way, thanks to the truly inspiring fundraising of the MFSM folks - and a partnership with the Kalamazoo Jewish Book Fair - I'll be back in K'zoo, Michigan, doing two cool events on Sunday, November 9th.
ellenkushner: (INTERFICTIONS)
Small Beer Press, Gavin Grant & Kelly Link's glorious enterprise - the publisher who brought you the stunning limited edition hardcover of The Privilege of the Sword - are having a
huge sale of all their books
- including TPOTS hc for a mere $17!! . . . the amazing new Geoff Ryman novel, formerly unavailable in the U.S.! . . . and Interfictions: the first anthology of Interstitial writing . . . .free downloads of Kelly Link stories . . . .and . . . wait for it . . . The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories by Joan Aiken!

If the fabulous books on fabulous sale were not enough, SBP adds:
20% of the proceeds of this sale will be donated to Barack Obama's campaign for President of the United States of America. Next month in the USA we get to show the world that the mistakes of the last eight long years will not be repeated . . . .

And it is thanks to their fine blog that I found Chris Rowe's link to hear Ralph Stanley's fine take on Barack , as well. That voice, that voice, that voice! -- oh, and also Ben Rosenbaum's exegesis on Maurice Sendak and the True Meaning of Rosh Hashanah.
ellenkushner: (Palin Trickster sign)
They chose a black woman for moderator! Smart. Step on everyone's weirdnesses. I love this election.

oh so much more )
ellenkushner: (Palin Trickster sign)
Admit it: for the last 8 years you've been wondering, What's going on? Isn't that smart, feisty, articulate Jed Bartlet supposed to be our real president? I have friends who are in complete denial and after the Republican convention simply locked themselves up with all 5 seasons of West Wing and refused to come out.

For all of us, then, there is the joyous news that Barack Obama & Jed Bartlet have had a meeting up in New Hampshire, in which (according to Maureen Dowd in the 9/20/08 NYTimes) "the Democratic ex-president ...offer[ed]...fatherly wisdom" - as transcribed by Aaron Sorkin. (Big thanks to my Cousin Els for alerting me to this!)

And if you don't click on through, I leave you with Sorkin's description of Palin as a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story. But really, you don't want to miss the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. . . . or the GET ANGRIER! peroration.
ellenkushner: (EK/DS wedding band)
Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude. I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. Read more... )

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson


* * *
You'd be amazed how many people I pass this on to write back warning me that it's a hoax.
ellenkushner: (NYC: RSD)
Some good things friends have posted:

Letter to Palin from NYC
She's a Lumberjack . . . .
Kris misses her Mama and leads us to the scintillating passion of Anne Lamott.

There's more, but I can't find it right now. I loved all your comments to my previous Palin post, and cherish [livejournal.com profile] p_zeitgeist's referring to her as "the Evita of the North."

Oh, wait - and Mary Doria Russell (and several others) sent this:

PBS has a poll up: Is Sarah Palin ready to be vice president?
YES is way ahead. Vote NO. Vote quick.
It will say something about our ability to get the vote out if we can turn this around!


I know that not everyone reading this is going to be anti-Palin, and appreciate the chance to exercise our glorious freedom to disagree and still share a country with good grace.

Oh, and the wedding was lovely. All the jitters are over, the cake was splendid, and there are smiles everywhere.
ellenkushner: (Default)
In the face of global poverty, sickness and general lousy politics, it can be hard for some of us here in the U.S. to rationalize giving our carefully-budgeted charitable donations to arts organizations. Art doesn't save lives, does it?

(Insert ironic pause here.)

Arts donations don't just go out into a well-meaning void. I've worked with and for many arts and nonprofits folks. In the spirit of Acting Locally, remember that your contributions to a theatre company, musical group, museum, etc. are actually going to pay the salaries of working artists and the staff & administrators who have chosen to lend their talents to a less lucrative field than others they are probably entitled to.

This gentle rant inspired by a letter I just got from a friend who works with a Michigan arts festival:
Read more... )

What can you do?

Donate when you can - or just support by paying museum admissions, theatre & concert tickets . . .

In Michigan, check out the frequently updated page for ArtServe: Mobilizing The Arts Community for Michigan.

A painter friend recommends Americans for the Arts e-advocacy center, which is currently asking people to help Congress pass an Artist Deduction Bill.

Any other ideas?

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