Not a Fluke

(AP File Photo)

My heart broke over the weekend when I read, over at DailyKos, "I've spent the past 2 days trying to convince my 16 y/o she is not a 'slut.'" (Thanks to Garance Franke-Ruta for the pointer.) Until I read that article, I have been focusing my attention on the good news: The assault on reproductive rights, from Komen and Santorum on, has finally made clear that the attacks on abortion are really just the front line of a greater assault on contraception and women's health.

My Frenemy, Andrew Breitbart

The conservative activist antagonized the left, but maybe we're better off because of it.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Andrew Breitbart, who died in Los Angeles today at age 43, angered the left less because of what he did than what the left repeatedly failed to do itself. I first encountered the conservative activist at the 2011 Netroots Nation conference, an annual gathering for progressive bloggers and tech types. Camera in hand, Breitbart had come over to the Netroots site from the conservative Right Online conference nearby. When he walked into the lobby, liberal activists shouted at him, accusing him of nefarious activities with male prostitutes and more. Breitbart smiled as he filmed it all.

Do Women Count?

Yesterday, after I made some snarky comment, a friend asked me if I was Eeyore. The truth is, I'm a mash-up of Eeyore and Tigger. Tigger bounces up and down gleefully whenever I talk about gay rights. But today I'm talking about the ladies again, so get ready for Eeyore. 

The Prospect Goes to the Oscars

Here are our reviews of some of this year's big hits so you can catch up before Sunday's show. 

Have you made your Oscar picks for this Sunday's Academy Awards broadcast yet? No fear, we've collected all our reviews of this year's nominated films so you can cram before the big show, and pass off Tom Carson's less-than-effusive thoughts on Midnight in Paris as your own (if you so choose). Don't forget to check in next week for our special Oscars-themed Vox and Friends podcast!


Woody Allen's Excellent Adventure

By Tom Carson

Midnight in Paris is nothing more than a dilettante's guide to the City of Lights.

In the running for: Best Picture; Best Original Screenplay

Obama's Michigan Pitch

As Republicans blanket the Michigan airwaves with negative ads haranguing each other before Tuesday's primary, Barack Obama's reelection campaign has released a Michigan-centric spot touting the success of the auto bailout. Titled, "Made in America," the ad takes a similar tone to the Chrysler/Clint Eastwood "Halftime in America" Super Bowl commercial, both filled with nostalgic tinged images of past American manufacturing greatness before highlighting car production as a means to restore the country's economy. "Made in America. For generations of Michigan autoworkers it's more than a slogan, it's a way of life," the ad's gruff narrator intones.

This Fall's Media Bias Complaints, Explained Today

Mitt Romney pretends to enjoy hanging out with the press (Flickr/Paul Chenoweth)

It's only February, but I have a pretty good idea about how the election is going to proceed from this point forward. Mitt Romney is going to struggle through the primaries, eventually dispatching Rick Santorum. But unlike many nominees, instead of being strengthened by the primary process, he will have been weakened by it, demonstrating his persistence, but not much else. As the economy slowly improves, President Obama's approval rating will continue to inch up, and the Obama campaign will begin its assault on Romney's character, one that will be largely successful. The Romney campaign, meanwhile, will struggle in the face of that improving economy to come up with a compelling critique of the President, trying in vain to alter opinions about the incumbent that have been formed and solidified over the past four years. Obama will lead the tracking polls pretty much throughout, culminating in a win that is fairly close, but not uncomfortably so. In this it will resemble the 1996 campaign more than, say, the 2004 campaign, when the outcome was in doubt much of the way.

Of course, there will be twists and turns along the way -- campaign gaffes, unforeseen events, maybe an international crisis. But there's a very good chance that those will be minor ups and downs in an election that will end up looking fairly predictable. And throughout this process, conservatives will shout that the liberal media is trying its darndest to make sure the Democrat wins, because that's what the liberal media does. I promise you, they'll be saying this. The closer we get to election day, the louder and more bitter the complaints will be. As is often the case, the volume of those complaints will have absolutely nothing to do with the actual content of coverage. But when they do talk about the content, look closely: they'll be arguing that coverage driven by the horse race is actually driven by bias...

The Lorax, Soon to Infect Theaters With Insidious Propaganda

I have a friend, a strong environmentalist and all-around lefty of the kind your average conservative talk show host would just love to punch in the face, who has a Lorax tattooed on his shoulder. He got it 10 or 15 years ago, and his ink of Dr. Seuss' exasperated little dude who tries in vain to protect the Truffula trees never fails to win admiration from any and all who see it.

But now Hollywood has come along, and using its impeccable logic -- Kids love Dr. Seuss; kids love movies; ergo, kids will love Dr. Seuss movies! -- has finally gotten around to making a full-length version of The Lorax. There's a mixed record on Dr. Seuss movies (Horton Hears a Who, not bad; The Cat In the Hat, a soul-sucking crime against nature), but particularly with The Lorax, a rather bleak morality tale with only a couple of characters, they'd have to cram in a whole bunch of humans and events that Dr. Seuss never dreamed of to get it to 90 action-packed minutes. And did they ever; Grist's David Roberts, upon seeing the trailer called it a "rainbow-barf monstrosity."

In any case, the fact that they've made a movie out of the enviro-rhyming book has made conservatives predictably outraged. Lou Dobbs, always ready to explore new frontiers in bloviating jackassery, sees a conspiracy linking Hollywood, Occupy Wall Street, and the Obama White House, pushing not just the environmental extremism of The Lorax, but also the socialist redistributionism of the children's classic The Borrowers (in its form as a new film called The Secret World of Arietty) because the tiny little beings steal things like sugar cubes from humans, whom Dobbs believes represent the 1 percent. Seriously.

But as David Haglund says, of course The Lorax is propaganda -- that's just how Dr. Seuss intended it, and you couldn't make a Lorax movie that wasn't. Should that bother us?...

It Gets Better on MTV


Has it really been only 17 months since advice columnist and provocateur Dan Savage and his spouse Terry Miller brilliantly launched the It Gets Better Project? As you may know, Savage was disturbed by a rash of gay teen suicides—and about the fact that despite how much progress the LGBT movement has made for gay adults, teenagers just coming out were still as isolated in their own despair, tormented by their peers, and not necessarily supported by friends, family, or school or religious authorities.

Watergate Finally Gets Its Novel

Thomas Mallon's new fiction humanizes the ultimate D.C. scandal.

Watergate: A Novel. By Thomas Mallon, Pantheon Books, 448 pages, $26.95.

Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life. By Ann Beattie, Scribner, 282 pages, $26.00.

This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters by yeggs with White House connections that provoked the Watergate scandal and led to Richard M. Nixon’s resignation as 37th president of the United States. It’s the kind of benchmark that leaves people who lived through those days facing two realizations, fused by the unwelcome recognition that we’re pretty old.

Pat Buchanan is Not a First Amendment Martyr


Last week, MSNBC announced that it was dropping Pat Buchanan from its stable of "contributors," a position which consists of being paid to come on the air and give one's opinions, something the network has no shortage of people to do for free. The network didn't hide the fact that it had finally decided that Buchanan's views (which we'll get to in a moment) were just too extreme and distasteful for them, so they decided to disassociate themselves from him. Buchanan responded with a post titled "Blacklisted, But Not Beaten," in which he rails against those who done him in: "I know these blacklisters. They operate behind closed doors, with phone calls, mailed threats, and off-the-record meetings. They work in the dark because, as Al Smith said, nothing un-American can live in the sunlight." To which one's initial response is, pity the poor oppressed Buchanan, left only with a hundred other forums in which to pass on his ideas!

But does he have a point? Andrew Sullivan thinks so, writing, "let me say something in his defense: however repellent some of his views, he is intellectually honest. Yes, publicly bigoted, sometimes outrageous, a flame-thrower, a reactionary who flirted at times with what only can be called neo-fascism. But here's another thing he has always been: true to his own ideas and a gifted writer. He truly believes what he says and has read and researched a huge amount and has thought carefully about his extreme out-of-the-mainstream views. He is a serious figure in that respect."

I find this unpersuasive...

The Fashion Week Bill of Rights

Two veteran runway models work to bring safe labor practices to the glamour industry.

(AP Photo/Charles Sykes)

At the height of the 1990s supermodel boom, Linda Evangelista famously said of herself and her catwalk colleagues, “We don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000.” While Evangelista and her cohort, which now includes household names like Gisele Bundchen and Heidi Klum, commanded six-figures for their photo shoots, the reality for most working models then and now is that they earn close to the minimum wage and face long hours in unregulated working conditions. Models, many of whom are teenage girls, are also vulnerable to sexual harassment and pressure to pose nude.

The Right-Wing Media Non-Conspiracy


Today's (actually, yesterday's) important article about the media comes from The American Prospect's friend Ben Adler, in the Columbia Journalism Review. It's a nuanced exploration of the dynamics within the conservative media and how they affect Republican politicians. Here's an excerpt:

Broadcasting from the Belly of the Beast

Thom Hartmann is taking on the Beltway, while trying to keep his outsider cred intact.

(AP Photo)

There are only a half-dozen or so media personalities who have both a nationally syndicated radio show and a nightly program on cable television, and most of them are superstar conservatives like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. Perhaps the least known is Thom Hartmann, a familiar voice to progressives who is nonetheless largely unheard-of among the broader public. For the last year, Hartmann has been trying to thread a difficult needle. Can he reach the top echelon of political media stars while retaining an outside-the-Beltway sensibility that finds the work of activists and organizers more compelling than the work of senators and congressmen? And can he do it from, of all places, Washington?

Comedian In Chief

Public Policy Polling has been a boon for political journalists over the past few years, partially for their extensive and accurate numbers—they were the only ones noting the rise of Rick Santorum in Minnesota last week—but also for their sense of humor. In addition to surveying the major political races, PPP tackles the all-important topics such as which NFL player is more popular than all of the presidential candidates (Tim Tebow of course) or how Stephen Colbert would perform in the South Carolina Republican primary.

Fox News, Now Part of the Liberal Media


Is Fox News moving to the center? That's the rather surprising question asked in this story in The Politico. The answer, on the surface, appears to be "sort of." There's a simple explanation for this, which we'll get to in a moment. But here's the essence of the story, which is about how true-blue conservatives are beginning to suspect that Fox is becoming just one more outpost of the liberal media: