- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting ahead of things

Jazz Shaw at the Moderate Voice says he “sincerely hope* that this purported Topeka-Capital Journal article is a hoax … somebody’s very poor idea of a bad joke.” The Kansas newspaper had the headline “Planning under way for Obama holiday,” the following lead:

“Plans are being made to promote a national holiday for Barack Obama, who will become the nation’s 44th president when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20.

“‘Yes We Can’ planning rallies will be at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. every Tuesday at the downtown McDonald’s restaurant, 1100 Kansas Ave., until Jan. 13. The goals are to secure a national holiday in Obama’s honor, to organize celebrations around his inauguration and to celebrate the 200th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, who was born on Feb. 12, 1809.

“This idea approaches criminal stupidity, and no matter how much you may have supported Obama’s candidacy, you should oppose it also,” writes Mr. Shaw.

“Let’s let the Obama administration play out. Something like this, if it is to be considered at all, should properly done by future generations in a posthumous honor after history has had it’s chance to evaluate the full term of his service and his lasting effect on the nation. And let’s face it … how embarrassed would you be if you did manage to establish this holiday immediately and six years from now Obama got swept up in something like Watergate? (I know … I know … it would never happen. We’ve said that about plenty of politicians. Look how Grant’s presidency turned out and he was a war hero.).”

No, he can’t

Here’s some change we can believe in. On New York magazine’s Vulture blog, Dan Kois asks “Can ‘The Daily Show’ Survive the Barack Obama Presidency?”

“‘The Daily Show’ is unique, though, in its audience and in its comedic approach, and we’re very worried that an Obama presidency might send Jon Stewart‘s show speedily on the road to obsolescence.

“Why? First of all, in one eventful day, the prototypical Daily Show viewer has been transformed: Once disaffected and angry at Washington’s power structure, he’s now delighted and hopeful about the new president and all that he symbolizes. And if you’re an Obama fan - eager to give Barack the benefit of the doubt, and proud and excited about the change you’ve helped bring the nation - do you really want Jon Stewart sitting on the sidelines, taking potshots at your hero? Beyond the problem of audiences souring on Obama jokes is the question of whether Jon Stewart even wants to make Obama jokes.”

Mr. Kois isn’t the only one concerned. Joe Carter at the Culture11 blog Confabulum agreed and had a remedy.

“I don’t think Stewart has the talent or the heart to skewer his own side. But rather than worry about hanging on to the Daily Show’s current crop of left-leaning viewers, why doesn’t Comedy Central replace them with a hip, young right-leaning audience who would love to spend the next few years laughing at the foibles of the Obama administration? They could turn the reins over to Dennis Miller and let the current host go back to ‘The Jon Stewart Show,’” he wrote.

Medium moves on

Nicholas Carr asks at Rough Type “Who killed the blogosphere?” and concludes that “No one did. Its death was natural, and foretold.”

He says that “blogging seems to have entered its midlife crisis, with much existential gnashing-of-teeth about the state and fate of a literary form that once seemed new and fresh and now seems familiar and tired … That vast, freewheeling, and surprisingly intimate forum where individual writers shared their observations, thoughts, and arguments outside the bounds of the traditional media is gone.

“Almost all of the popular blogs today are commercial ventures with teams of writers, aggressive ad-sales operations, bloated sites, and strategies of self-linking. Some are good, some are boring, but to argue that they’re part of a ‘blogosphere’ that is distinguishable from the ‘mainstream media’ seems more and more like an act of nostalgia, if not self-delusion.

Mr. Carr then makes a historical analogy about another amateur-dominated medium.

“Back in 2005, I argued that the closest historical precedent for blogging was amateur radio. The example has become, if anything, more salient since then. When ‘the wireless’ was introduced to America around 1900, it set off a surge in amateur broadcasting, as hundreds of thousands of people took to the airwaves. ‘On every night after dinner,’ wrote Francis Collins in the 1912 book Wireless Man, ‘the entire country becomes a vast whispering gallery.’ … But it didn’t last. Radio soon came to be dominated by a relatively small number of media companies, with the most popular amateur operators being hired on as radio personalities. Social production was absorbed into corporate production.”

Against 8

According to CNN, blacks were the only ethnic group in California to vote decisively (70 percent) for Proposition 8, which defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman and passed a narrow by 52 percent to 48 percent.

Some early analyses of the turnout figures suggested that blacks provided the decisive edge for the proposition to reverse a state Supreme Court case on gay marriage, and a “meme” was born among angry gay bloggers and demonstrators - it was all the blacks’ fault.

Dan Savage at Slog says that he wept at the election of Sen. Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president, “But I can’t help but feeling hurt that the love and support aren’t mutual. I do know this, though: I’m done pretending that the handful of racist gay white men out there - and they’re out there, and I think they’re scum- are a bigger problem for African Americans, gay and straight, than the huge numbers of homophobic African Americans are for gay Americans, whatever their color.”

Gay activists began a series of demonstrations and pickets around the state, and blogger Rod McCullom of Rod 2.0 received several reports of the kind of things said.

“Geoffrey, a student at UCLA and regular Rod 2.0 reader, joined the massive protest outside the Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Westwood. Geoffrey was called the n-word at least twice. ‘It was like being at a klan rally except the klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks. “you [racial epithet],” one man shouted at me,’” Mr. McCullom writes. “Los Angeles resident and Rod 2.0 reader A. Ronald says he and his boyfriend, who are both black, were carrying ‘No on Prop 8’ signs and still subjected to racial abuse.

Jasmyne Cannick recounted receiving similar reports at her Web site; both she and Mr. McCollum are black gays.

“To date, I have received several phone calls from Blacks, both gay and straight, who were caught up in Westwood around the time of that march. From being called [racial epithets] to being accosted in their cars and told that it was because of ‘you people gays don’t have equal rights and you better watch your back,’ these gays have lost their … minds. … All I can say is that I wish that had been me in Westwood some gay called a [racial epithet]. I keep bail money and a lawyer on retainer for exactly these types of occasions.”

• Contact Victor Morton.

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