The Complicated Legacy Of Helen Thomas

Published: mic (July 20, 2013)

How does an American political historian cope with the death of Helen Thomas?

She was a pioneer for female journalists, an old-fashioned shoe-leather reporter, an astute observer of Washington’s grimy, smarmy underbelly who had personally interrogated every president since John F. Kennedy. When Stephen Colbert used the third act of his legendary 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech to pay her a tongue-in-cheek tribute, few in the press corps doubted that the honor was well deserved. Thomas embodied the best tradition of newsroom skepticism, the school of thought that continued to live by H. L. Mencken’s undeniable aphorism, “The only way for a reporter to look at a politician is down.” read more

The Obama Speech On Trayvon Martin Was Brutally Honest — And Magnificent

Published: mic (July 19, 2013)

Liberals … we have our Obama back.

Well, let’s not go too far. The president who repeatedly compromised when it wasn’t necessary (see the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), reneged on promises (see Guantanamo Bay), and betrayed his own professed principles (see PRISM) cannot be entirely forgiven for his ideological betrayals simply after one press conference.

Then again, what a press conference it was.

One must bear in mind here that, despite his reputation as a barrier-breaker due to being our nation’s first African American president, Obama has not actually done very much for the black community during his time in office. He has appointed fewer blacks to cabinet positions than his two immediate predecessors, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; eschewed the kinds of aggressive anti-poverty measures that could reduce skyrocketing inner city unemployment rates, allowing black joblessness to reach perilous heights; and refused to aggressively act to halt federal policies like the War on Drugs, which disproportionately target minority citizens. His acclaimed “More Perfect Union” speech may have been delivered only five years ago, but in light of the disparity between that soaring oratory and his subsequent policies, one wouldn’t be surprised for feeling like five decades have passed. read more

4 Movies So Awful, They’re Actually Hilarious

Published: mic (July 18, 2013)

As the multiplexes bombard us with such irredeemably awful fare as Grown Ups 2 and The Lone Ranger, I figured it was time to take a look at four movies so awful, they’re actually pretty wonderful. In no particular order…

1. Troll 2 (1990)

Yeah, anyone familiar with B-movies could have guessed that this garbage would make an appearance. For those of you unfamiliar with the history of schlock, Italian production companies have a long history of creating unofficial sequels to better-known American films so as to cash in on their name recognition. Not only are these shameless exploitations clearly non-canonical, but they often have virtually nothing to do with the original motion picture on which they’re trying to capitalize. read more

5 Reasons Why Libertarians Are the Hipsters Of U.S. Politics

Published: mic (June 17, 2013)

The slaying of sacred cows is one of the foremost responsibilities of anyone who hopes to shape public opinion in a responsible fashion. That is why most of America’s prominent political groups have received their fair share of ridicule, from The Colbert Report’s shtick parodying conservatives to South Park’s legendary lampoons deflating liberals. Considering the stakes involved and the sacrifices demanded in matters of state and society, this forced humbling of those who would wield political power is not only appropriate, but necessary. read more

Why Joe Biden Should Run For President in 2016

Published: mic (July 17, 2013)The Morning Call (July 17, 2013)

According to a recent Politico article, Vice President Joe Biden is being criticized by some of his backers for not doing more to promote his 2016 presidential candidacy. Should Biden choose to run, he would, no doubt, face a formidable opponent in Hillary Clinton, the erstwhile first lady, senator, and secretary of state who is widely considered to be the Democratic front-runner. It’s right that she should be considered a top contender for the Oval Office, given her impressive resume and long history of remarkable political resilience. But there is also a strong case to be made for Biden’s candidacy. To whit: read more

“J’Accuse” George Zimmerman

Published: mic (July 14, 2013)

More than a century ago, the French novelist Emile Zola drew attention to one epidemic of bigotry that was infecting his country. In his classic essay “J’Accuse,” he pointed the finger of accusation at anti-Semites throughout the Western world who were celebrating a wrong that had been perpetrated against a Jew, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, because he was a Jew.

As I see the reactions to the George Zimmerman acquittal, I can’t help but think of Zola’s article — and how another one like it is necessary. read more

What Men Can Learn From Dustin Hoffman’s ‘Tootsie’ Breakthrough

Published: mic (July 11, 2013)

Sometimes it’s necessary to feel ashamed of yourself.

This unpleasant epiphany came to me when I came across a Dustin Hoffman interview in which the Academy Award-winning actor discussed his experience preparing for the 1982 cross-dressing comedy Tootsie. As he described the studio’s attempts to make him look like a convincing woman, he recalled his shock at being told that no matter how realistic they might make him appear, they would never be able to make him look beautiful. After all, Hoffman had assumed that if he was going to be a woman, he would naturally be an interesting woman, and as such should be as beautiful as possible. When the deeper implications of his female alter ego’s inability to transcend the limitations of her physical appearance settled in, he came to an upsetting realization: read more