By Tyler Lewis
I want to thank Alyssa for inviting me to guest post this week. Truly an honor. I will try to be as thoughtful, interesting, and amazing as she so often is here.
I have always had complicated feelings for the film, The Best Man. In terms of sheer enjoyment, it?s one of the finest black films of its type. It?s filled with characters that feel real, played by gifted actors (Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut and Terrence Howard, to name a few) who have rarely had the opportunity before or since to be glamorous and human at the same time.
The film has those rare screen moments that stick with you long after the film is over and are just as pleasurable upon repeated viewings. That first shot introducing Morris Chestnut as Lance Sullivan. When Terrence Howard turns the guitar upside down and keeps playing it, never missing a beat. Harold Perrineau?s reaction to Regina Hall?s striptease. So many great moments.
But it?s an extremely sexist film. Almost retrogressive in its depiction of black women and the way black men don?t see women as human beings. I mean, the film hinges on the fact that a total slut like Lance Sullivan is such a chauvinist that the very idea of his bride having a sexual past sends him into a blind rage and makes him question whether or not she?s worthy of him. It?s a film that continues to suggest that driven career black women are unworthy of love. Career woman Jordan Armstrong (played by Long), is the only woman to ends the film alone, even as the stripper with the heart of gold and the emasculating shrew each end up with a man.
Worse, none of the women in The Best Man are terribly well-drawn. This is by design since each woman is a type ? the not-so innocent innocent, the emasculating shrew, and, yes, the stripper with the heart of gold ? that exists solely to receive the men when they grow up just enough to deserve them.
So if it is true that Malcolm D. Lee is making a sequel to the film, I really hope he does better by the female characters and the actresses who portray them this time around by fleshing them out so they are real, flesh-and-blood black women. But, man, if Jordan is still alone ? and her singledom is solely because she?s got a job and doesn?t ?need a man? ? that would be truly awful. And it wouldn?t be worth Nia Long?s time to reprise the role. If Lee is smart, he?ll make the sequel about Jordan.
Mitt Romney responds to Democrats’ claims that President Obama modeled the Affordable Care Act on his 2006 Massachusetts health reform law, by asking why the president didn’t call him for advise. Today, Michael Isikoff reports that the administration did something much more useful — it consulted Romney’s closest advisers, holding “a dozen meetings in 2009 with three health-care advisers and experts who helped shape the health care reform law signed by Romney in 2006″:
The records, gleaned from White House visitor logs reviewed by NBC News, show that senior White House officials had a dozen meetings in 2009 with three health-care advisers and experts who helped shape the health care reform law signed by Romney in 2006, when the Republican presidential candidate was governor of Massachusetts. One of those meetings, on July 20, 2009, was in the Oval Office and presided over by President Barack Obama, the records show.
?The White House wanted to lean a lot on what we?d done in Massachusetts,? said Jon Gruber, an MIT economist who advised the Romney administration on health care and who attended five meetings at the Obama White House in 2009, including the meeting with the president. ?They really wanted to know how we can take that same approach we used in Massachusetts and turn that into a national model.? [...]
Romney is ?the father of health-care reform,? said Gruber. ?I think he is the single person most responsible for health care reform in the United States. ? I?m not trying to make a political position or a political statement, I honestly feel that way. If Mitt Romney had not stood up for this reform in Massachusetts ? I don?t think it would have happened nationally. So I think he really is the guy with whom it all starts.?
After reform became law, Obama repeatedly credited Romney for the idea, telling the Today show in March of 2010, ?[W]hen you actually look at the bill itself, it incorporates all sorts of Republican ideas. I mean a lot of commentators have said this is sort of similar to the bill that Mitt Romney, the Republican governor and now presidential candidate, passed in Massachusetts. A lot of the ideas in terms of the exchange, just being able to pool and improve the purchasing power of individuals in the insurance market.? Obama resisted the individual mandate as a candidate, but endorsed the provision at the urging of former Director of the White House Office of Health Care Reform Nancy-Anne DeParle, who argued that ?Obama should embrace a plan much like that in Massachusetts, driven by the teeth of a mandate,? Ron Suskind writes in his new book Confidence Men.
And while the Affordable Care Act borrows substantially from the Massachusetts reform — it establishes the mandate and the exchanges, for instance — the federal law includes cost containment provisions that the Massachusetts measure lacks. Below is a comparison:
From the standpoint of column-writing, it’s helpful for politicians to take absurd positions. Like if some people were saying “let’s cut the deficit right away” and other people were saying “let’s forget about the deficit forever” then the wise columnist can parachute in and say “what we really need is to do stimulus now, paired with long-term deficit reduction.” So wise! So centrist! And given how convenient that debate would be for columnists, I’ve seen a lot simply pretending that it’s happening and musing about the need for a third party. But as the CBO score of the latest version of the American Jobs Act shows (PDF) it’s just not the case ? the Act being pushed uniformly by Democrats and opposed uniformly by Republicans meets that centrist criteria.
It reduced the deficit in the long-run by about $5.8 billion even while giving the economy some much needed short-term tax cuts and spending.
This weekend, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) held its annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois. The MBA represents some of the nation’s top foreclosure mills, and has over 2,400 members, including “mortgage companies, mortgage brokers, commercial banks, thrifts, life insurance companies and others in the mortgage lending field.”
In order to protest the practices of the MBA member companies represented at the meeting, a group of 40 protesters from National People’s Action, working with a coalition called Take Back Chicago, decided to dress as Robin Hood and kayak up the Chicago River. Once the protesters reached the Michigan Bridge, they unfurled a banner that read: “Wall Street: Steals from the 99%. Gives to the Rich. Let’s take it back!” Watch them:
Thousands of demonstrators are expected to protest the MBA meeting in Chicago today, part of a larger 99 percent movement aiming to take back the country’s social and economic systems from the richest one percent of Americans.
More than two-thirds of Americans, including 53 percent of Republicans, want wealthier people to pay more in taxes to help pay down the deficit, according to a new Bloomberg-Washington Post poll. (The two news organizations are sponsoring tonight’s GOP debate.) “Even larger numbers think Medicare and Social Security benefits should be left alone.” As former Reagan official Bruce Bartlett has written, more than 20 recent polls show Americans favor raises taxes on the wealthy, despite conservative claims otherwise.
Erick Erickson and Josh Trevino are, I’m told, the geniuses behind the dimwitted concept of countering the 99 Percent Movement with an effort to divide the country between the 53 percent of the population that has net federal income tax liability in addition given the current suite of temporary tax cuts, and the other 47 percent who merely pay payroll tax, sales tax, property tax, and excise taxes. This is my favorite post up there so far:
It’s interesting to me how heavily ideology shapes people’s narratives about their own lives rather than the reverse. After all, can one really credibly say that the Marine Corps is a field in which one’s success and failure is going to be determined by one’s individual effort rather than collective efficacy? I don’t want to be in the position of telling a veteran that I know his business better than he does, but that would be a mighty strange kind of military in which solidarity, teamwork, and the effective operation of a large public bureaucracy play no role. But joining the Marines is something a lot of conservative-identified people do, and talking about reductive individualism is also something a lot of conservative-identified people do, so why not just throw it all in one big post?
Love in Action (LIA) is one of the largest and oldest ex-gay ministries in existence, founded in 1973, the same year the American Psychiatric Association decided that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness. John Smid resigned as the group’s executive director in 2008, and since then has slowly been rethinking his understandings of sexuality and his beliefs about homosexuality. In a new blog post last week, Smid has shown just how far he has come, acknowledging his own homosexuality (despite his loving marriage to his wife) and the fact that sexual orientation cannot be changed. Here are some of the key confessions Smid makes:
Smid is on his own journey, and will likely continue to work things out for himself. As Ex-Gay Watch points out, “There is a certain haziness to Smid?s new statements, and rather than taking an unambiguously pro-gay stance, he errs on the side of caution.” Nevertheless, his words are revelatory and speak to the harms of ex-gay therapy and how little evidence there is supporting their effectiveness. He joins a chorus of other former ex-gay leaders who have apologized for trying to shame gays and lesbians into rejecting their sexual orientations.
But Smid’s apology also helps connect the dots between the mythology of ex-gay therapy and anti-gay political positions. When individuals like Rick Santorum or Herman Cain (or anyone from this weekend’s Values Voter Summit) defend their opposition to LGBT equality by suggesting that sexuality is all about behavior or that it’s a choice, they are endorsing ex-gay therapy as the foundation of those positions. Cain said, “Show me the science,” but as Smid points out, people with anti-gay positions often aren’t willing or able to understand any of the facts that contradict their discriminatory positions:
I was completely unwilling to hear anything that didn?t fit my paradigm. I blocked out anyone?s life story or biblical teaching that didn?t match up with what I believed… Now that I am not submerged into one sided perspectives, I am open to studying and reading the scriptures for myself, I am finding so many rich truths that I wasn?t ever made aware of before.
Hopefully, testimonies like Smid’s will help others open their eyes to the experience of LGBT people beyond what they’ve convinced themselves is “moral” or “best for society.”
Despite support from groups like the Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition, and National Organization for Marriage, it seems that the effort to overturn California’s FAIR Education Act by referendum has failed. The new law requires schools to include the contributions of LGBT people in curricula. The “Stop SB 48″ coalition has until tomorrow to collect the over 500,000 signatures necessary to challenge the law at the ballot, but Joe.My.God just reported that the anti-gay groups have conceded, saying they “would need a miracle to qualify this referendum.”
Welcome to Clean Start, ThinkProgress Green?s morning round-up of the latest in climate and clean energy. Here is what we?re reading. What are you?
Thai rescue workers scrambled on Monday to prevent a humanitarian disaster as the worst flooding in half a century swamped large sections of the country, shut factories and stranded thousands of people. [Reuters]
Flood-stricken Thailand is now being hit by the same kind of supply-chain disruptions that plagued Japan’s economy after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. [WSJ]
Strong offshore winds are expected to cause a heat wave across the Los Angeles region later in the week, heightening the possibility of brush fires, the National Weather Service said Monday evening. [LA Times]
Exxon Mobil Corp said on Monday it had no reason to believe an oil sheen on the Yellowstone River in Montana came from its Billings refinery but it had moved to contain the oil to minimize any environmental impact. [Reuters]
European Union environment ministers — responsible for only 11 percent of global carbon emissions — said they would commit to a new phase of the Kyoto climate change pact, on the condition that nations blamed for the rest join up too. [Reuters]
The Baltic Sea emits more carbon dioxide than it can bind. [Science Daily]
A new poll shows that the majority of Europeans consider climate change the second gravest problem facing the world, right after poverty and above the economic crisis. [TreeHugger]
The 47,000 tonne container ship Rena is currently grounded on a reef in New Zealand?s Bay of Plenty and it is leaking heavy fuel oil after running aground last week. [Price of Oil]
After Boston police arrested more than 100 activists for occupying part of the Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston mayor Tom Menino said the activists were “hellbent on pitching tents” in an area that “was not allotted to them.” “I sympathize with their issues, some of those issues we really have to look at in America,” Menino said in the interview with New England Cable News, “but when it comes to civil disobedience, I will not tolerate civil disobedience in the city of Boston.” Watch it: