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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

watch it: the weekly address from President-elect Barack Obama


Respecting the integrity of the scientific process? Listening to what scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient? Especially when it’s inconvenient?

The science team looks promising, but I’m staying scientifically skeptical until I see these folks in action — and till I see how Obama responds to their recommendations. Because he seems to think “tolerance” requires embracing horrific bigots like Rick Warren. I hope he doesn’t think that keeping a skeptically open mind doesn’t mean embracing such “sciences” as creationism or ghosthunting.



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  • Yeah, the Warren thing is troubling, but it’s something I have a hard time getting too worked up about. He’s giving a 90-second prayer, and it’s clearly just throwing a bone to the evangelicals. Which, again, I don’t care for, but it’s certainly a big, big step up from the throwing the whole meal to them we’ve dealt with the past 8 years, and not even throwing a bone to the opposition.

    It’s definitely pretty nakedly political, but unfortunately the reality is that that’s what needs to be done, change or no. Obama has definitely shown himself to be a pragmatist, not an idealist, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. He’s also showing that with his cabinet picks, and I can’t say I disapprove of any of them, even if they weren’t all my first choices. He really seems to be picking people with good experience, who can do their jobs well, which is so refreshing after eight years of those positions being filled by “loyal Bushies”. He still has to prove himself, and I certainly don’t mean to imply that I just give him a pass on the Warren thing, or voting for the FISA bill, etc. On the whole, though, color me way the fuck more optimistic than I’ve been for eight years.

  • Nathan

    Secretary of Ghost Hunting should be Cabinet-level.

  • MaryAnn

    Obama has definitely shown himself to be a pragmatist, not an idealist

    So would it be “not idealist” if he invited a member of the KKK to speak at the inauguration?

    There is nothing “pragmatist” about supporting homophobia, anymore than there’s anything “pragmatist” about supporting racism or sexism. (Warren’s an unrepentant sexist, too.) Nor is there anything “idealist” about advocating civil rights for all.

    If Obama believes “tolerance” means supporting bigots, then he needs to invite a prominent racist to speak at his inauguration, or he has to explain how denying civil rights for people based on their sexual orientation is not the same as denying civil rights for people based on their race.

  • JoshB

    If Obama believes “tolerance” means supporting bigots, then he needs to invite a prominent racist to speak at his inauguration, or he has to explain how denying civil rights for people based on their sexual orientation is not the same as denying civil rights for people based on their race.

    It’s not the same because of the number of people who support those two positions. Racism is not nearly as acceptable in our culture as homophobia. Recognizing that is most definitely pragmatism.

  • MaryAnn

    If people had thought that way about racism, we’d still have slavery in this country.

  • JoshB

    People did think that way about racism. Slavery didn’t disappear overnight and neither will homophobia. It’s a cultural process that takes generations. Give homosexuals civil unions now, and in twenty years people will have gotten used to it and will collectively say, “What the hell, why not just call them married?”

    Is it fair that homosexuals will have to wait for equality? Not remotely. Is it reality? Yes, and pragmatism understands that fact and works with it.

  • MaryAnn

    Of course slavery didn’t disappear overnight. But people started pushing against it long before it ended. Are you suggesting we shouldn’t do that now, and just wait for homophobia to magically end on its own?

    I refuse to agree that making nice with homophobes is pragmatic. By that argument, Obama should make nice with creationists, too. Oh, wait, he is: Warren refuses to accept evolution, too.

    Sometimes wrong is simply wrong, and has to be pointed out as such.

  • Well again, I don’t like that it’s happening. I’d love to have a president that would tell bigots like Warren to stuff it. But the sad truth is that he’s relatively moderate among his lot. He doesn’t spend all of his time railing against teh faggots like some of his ilk. It’s fucking pathetic that the bar’s that low, but it is right now.

    He’s also got a pro-gay marriage preacher closing the ceremony. So that’s a good sign. Certainly not something Bush would have done.

    Look, this isn’t an argument I have much of a stomach for. Warren’s a douche, and I’m certainly not defending his pick. But I understand why Obama did it, and in the grand scheme of things, I think it’s pretty minor. If it brings some people around and makes it easier for him to govern and get us out of this economic fuckup in the near-term, and get something accomplished on his green initiatives, then it’s worth that minor concession.

    I’m much more interested in watching the legal battle over Prop 8 in California and cheering on the Attorney General for coming around and saying that the courts should overturn it because their constitution guarantees equality first and foremost.

  • JoshB

    Are you suggesting we shouldn’t do that now, and just wait for homophobia to magically end on its own?

    I refuse to believe that that’s what you took from my post.

    Actually, Count Shrimpula’s post contains most of what I would have otherwise said, so I’ll be brief.

    No, I’m suggesting no such thing. There’s value to taking a moral stand, as you are fond of doing. It’s part of the cultural conversation. It’s idealism. There’s also value to understanding what can and cannot be accomplished now, and how compromise in the present can reap greater rewards in the future. That’s pragmatism. Obama has to deal with the reality that right now this country is more homophobic than not. There are things he can do to change that, but taking an absolute stand right now will only hamstring his presidency.

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