Three Power of Story Stories . . .

5 05 2011

to help JJ celebrate this National Day of Reason:

1) You’ve seen this picture.
“It is an image unimaginable 30 years ago. . .”

Now see three reasons it’s worth not only a thousand words but worth more than every history textbook in Texas, and then some.

(If you saw the evangelical Christianist self-styled as an authentic history expert on Jon Stewart last night, you’ll know what I mean. If not, watch this.)

Update – the Jon Stewart interview moved one author to action, reports the Friendly Atheist. She decided to give away for free download her book, Liars for Jesus:

The whole thing is just infuriating. Barton goes on and on (and on), talking over Stewart, saying that Christianity is under attack. Stewart calls him out on it. Barton changes the subject, cherrypicks court cases to prove some obscure point, and acts like he’s victorious. . . .

She’s going to give away her book for free in the hope that the truth can spread.
. . .So download it, read it, spread it, and help put a dent into Barton’s influence. Better yet, buy it if you can so future volumes can be published.

2) THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! Only reason will beat it back into the Dark Ages. (Do we need a presidentially commanded special ops strike force of REASON?)

3) Edge dot org has an intriguing new conversation up on “The Argumentative Theory.”

Edge is the perfect place for some Day of Reason reading:

To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.

Read first, feel the sudden warmth of human cognition exciting your synapses, then talk later.
I’ll be here. 🙂

Why Educate Our Kids? Part Four, Act Two: Power of Story

14 06 2010

See Act One here.

Refreshed after intermission, are we? Good. Turn your electronics back off and re-suspend your disbelief [lights flick and go black.]

Political theatre is truth-telling of telling truths despite individual characters who seldom do the same. And even when it is terrible, it’s instructive to see what wins. We watched the Tonys last night; Zeta-Jones was appalling, literally painful to watch even though her voice was pleasant, because her (over)acting was so incongruous with the truth of the character and song she sang. Then she promptly won the “Best Actress in a Musical” Tony for it, and we swore (both that we’d never watch again, although we were lying even while telling our truth because we always watch, and also we just plain swore! 😉

I think electing a president is not political science but the storytelling of great theatre, done through financial risk, sweat and playacting, chaos and corruption and broken hearts, broken dreams, a broken leg now and then, with a few magical moments so much better than the script, all coming together like Shakespeare in Love: “I don’t know how, it’s a mystery!” That is how political story becomes hi-story.

So I figure theatre criticism is the kind of education that should be universal, if anything is.

Three-and-a-half years ago when Barack Obama’s story hadn’t become a blockbuster yet — never mind Sarah Palin’s! — and Snook was still a playground experiment, JJ was critiquing non-partisan story and theatre for real:

******** Read the rest of this entry »

Nobody Does It Better: Unpacking Political Corruption

28 01 2010

Before she knew Barack Obama much less Sarah “Pallin’ around with Terrorists” Palin and Joe “You Lie” the Plumber — um, Wilson — JJ once wrote:

I feel like we’ve been fighting each other so long that it’s not about fighting for competing goals or visions any more, as much as it is the fight itself. . .

I’m not in the hole alone, and dirt is flying all around me.

IF it’s really completely hopeless, and we always must be at war among ourselves just because we’re human, then progressive thinkers can at least admit it to ourselves and figure out how to integrate THAT into our world view. It would be more honest.

She concluded much later by asking, “So — now what?”  None of us could answer that then, beyond another shift in party power.  Can we (any of us) do any better now?

In October 2006, Culture Kitchen was hosting serious, honest good-government talk among Thinking Citizens.  Remember way back then? The GOP was in authoritarian command and control (government as god and guns for private profits) but an election was on the horizon and Scientist-Democrat-blogger Mole wrote a post making the case that

“Democrats Stand for Honest Government
The Republican Party is imploding because of corruption. Their corruption has already sent Randy Cunningham to jail and forced the resignation of Tom DeLay and Mark Foley. In Ohio and Missouri and Kentucky their corruption is shocking. And voters are tired of it.

The Republicans try to cover up their corruption, lying for each other. They even protected a sexual predator for six years! When faced with corruption in their ranks, Republicans lie and cover their tracks. Their final defense is to whine pitifully, “but the Democrats do it too!”

Well, Democrats have indeed been known to be corrupt. But there are differences.  .  . We attack Republican corruption and on the rare occasions it comes up we attack Democratic corruption as well. I see no comparable reform movement within the Republican Party. All I see are more lies, more sleaze and more greed. All I see are Republicans and companies like Halliburton and Exxon and Enron in an orgy of greed and profit, looting America and sacrificing American troops for profit.

. . .Republicans wallow in corruption. Democrats are fighting corruption.

So Nance (longtime Democrat) and JJ (longtime independent non-partisan) engaged this argument, in ways disconcertingly relevant this morning in January 2010, knowing what we know now and having just watched the State of the Union last night — President Barack Obama (longtime Democrat) appealing to GOP power brokers and especially to us longtime independent non-partisans.

I recommend you go to Culture Kitchen and read the whole conversation because we weren’t the only ones thinking and talking, but here are some excerpts just from JJ and Nance:

Just Can’t Buy It

Submitted by JJ Ross on 11 October 2006 –

That ship has sailed, hopefully for the last time with a majority of American voters innocently at the pier waving goodbye and welcoming in the new.

However earnest and sincere individual candidates and operatives may be, polls and personal observations persuade me neither Rs nor Ds will be able to dump a load of “purity and honesty” cargo on us to just buy on faith and pay for later, and maybe that’s a good thing.

Some new third party for the same old system isn’t my idea of change, either. The system is corrupt, nobody does it better, and we’re just not in the media mass market for any more cheap and peeling tricks with a fresh coat of paint slapped on,peddled as progressive government.

I suffer from chronic liar,liar, pants on fire exhaustion, like nearly everyone I know in ordinary family life. Say we ARE collectively in the mood for real change, toward something that really is more honest and productive than we’ve constituted as government in our lifetime. What would we suggest, without the union (or any other) label I mean? There ought to be ideas other than soundbite-slogan partisan ones we can at least start imagining and working toward, building new frames, having new conversations . . .

Unpacking Corruption

I’d unpack the sins and slogans a little differently is all (I am not R or Green or any other festive party color.)

Yes, of course, honesty is the right direction, so great for us all if some Dems are heading that way or at least acknowledging it’s the right direction. But it’s not just because they ARE Dems though, is it, really? And they aren’t all alike, nor are all R pols or us independents.

And are they really the only ones you see moving that way? That’s all I’m saying, not throwing out rhetoric, honest!
The poll says I’m not alone in seeing dishonesty in too many places and all the wrong faces . . .

I think your case can be made reasonably to the public but ironically, Read the rest of this entry »

“We’re the Smart Ones. . .”

27 01 2010

We’re the smart ones.
We’re the ones who are “reality-based.”
We can win without being counterproductive.
We can figure it out.

Put it on t-shirts, embroider it on pillows, whisper it to teeth-gnashing, garment-rending fellows as needed . . .

Most Laughable Politics of 2008 — Video Galore!

28 12 2008

Don’t miss this as you prepare for the New Year.

(Daniel Kurtzman edits the Political Humor page of, part of The New York Times Company. He is author of the books “How to Win a Fight With a Conservative” and “How to Win a Fight With a Liberal.”)

Did JJ Write This Note to Bill Clinton?

24 09 2008

No, she didn’t, of course. Paul Slanksy did. But I wish I had. And I hope he reads it and we all hold him accountable for his own monstrous self-indulgence as a supposed leader. FINALLY!

Given that we would never have had the odious George W. Bush in the White House in the first place if it wasn’t for your blow jobs, Bill, it seems obvious that you owe it to the people of this country, and especially to the parents whose kids died in the Iraq War that Gore would never have started, and to all the parents whose kids would be killed in the WarFest that would be a McCain/Palin — sorry, Palin/McCain administration — to do everything in your power to get Barack Obama elected.

But that’s not what you’re doing, Bill, and it’s not going unnoticed. We see your rage, Bill, it’s too huge to hide. We see that — as Chris Rock so brilliantly pointed out — it pains you to even speak Obama’s name. We see you petulantly rooting against him even as you go through the motions of doing the barest minimum on his behalf to avoid being blamed if he loses.

You’re not fooling anyone, Bill. You’ve gotten so caught up in yesterday that you’ve stopped thinking about tomorrow. You have the power to influence millions of voters and you’re spitefully sitting on it. Surely you’ve noticed what’s going on in the country. Surely you’re aware of what’s at stake on November 4th. This is not a game that you can afford to take your ball and go home with if you don’t get to play the position you want. An Obama loss will most certainly be part of your legacy.

There’s still time to fix it. How about this for an October surprise? Bill Clinton gets on the road and spends every day until the election sincerely and wholeheartedly communicating the urgency of electing Obama. You’re the greatest politician of your generation, Bill. Surely you can fake enthusiasm for a month.

Oh, and stop talking about how much you like Senator McCain. Have you forgotten the vile joke he told a decade ago at your wife’s and daughter’s expense? Let me remind you: “Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? She’s the child of Janet Reno and Hillary Clinton.” Are you saying, Bill, that you can forgive McCain for calling Chelsea “ugly” but you can’t forgive Obama for defeating Hillary?

If Obama loses a close election — one in which even one state where you could have made a difference goes for McCain because you sat home and pouted — it will be on you. We will remember that you couldn’t be bothered to rise above your petty resentments for something as trivial as saving your country from the enemies of everything you profess to believe in. We forgave you for Monica, Bill, but we won’t forgive you for this.

Real Vetting of Palin Underway and It’s Same Old McSame Old

3 09 2008

Wanna know what’s REALLY happening?   The real vetting is less than a week along — Slate calls it Hurricane Sarah — but already Sarah Palin is proving to be just what we’d expect,  red-white-and-blue campaign confetti bundled in patriotic bunting like a newborn baby, being fired off with a big bang to distract from and cover up  what we knew all along about the ruthless politics of personal profit, public exploitation, and God and Guns enforcing it all, no questions allowed!

Forget the family stuff and the smears and counter-smears, who is Sarah Palin herself, as a politican campaigning in her own right? Can we trust her character and judgment, faith and feminism and um, public fairness and diplomacy? How does SHE treat women politicians and does she respect them personally even when she opposes their politics?
[UPDATE – this youtube video mysteriously disappeared a few hours after posting. So here’s a longer, audio-only clip. The relevant part starts about halfway through. And I put my own summary and a news report’s summary in the comments below.]

Or let’s look at her “qualifications” and governing principles once in office, never mind theocratic abstinence-only sex ed or the FCA and FFL, or adding creationism to public school science classes; let’s talk major national issues like the economy, energy policy, war and peace:

In a talk to the church congregation on the Iraq War, for example, Palin said “[Pray] for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God….That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”

. . . Palin, in supporting a $30 billion Alaskan national gas pipeline project, said: “I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that.”

Faced with an onslaught of critical stories, the McCain campaign has adopted a strategy of knocking down some incomplete or imperfectly substantiated stories and blaming them on the Obama campaign.

Snook readers will recall I am nonpartisan and was all for Unity ’08, even registered as a delegate and blogged about it some at Culture Kitchen. The Unity ’08 movement was about issues and reforming our governance processes, no names to take sides over, just a hope for better politics and real, post-partisan, intelligent reforms.  I thought it was actually better NOT to have specific individuals clubbing each other into the ground, instead of coming together in a sort of collective wisdom that was about us, not rooting for or against specific personalities and celebrities.

American politics is cynical and corrupt, completely broken, and the only hope for real change now (no guarantee, but the best shot we can realistically hope for) is Barack Obama’s fresh, honest, principled approach and his absolute refusal to be dragged down into the McSame Old along the journey. He willingly went into the Saddleback lion’s den and told the truth about his own faith without pandering to voters as the Bush Rs have done and as he knew McCain would do, too. (Some maverick.) Talk about the kind of character and TEMPERAMENT that best qualifies the true American “leader” we need now. . .