“Do You Favor the Country Becoming More Politically Correct?” Is Not a Neutral Question

A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll and the connected article results in what they call a “warning for Democrats: Americans are largely against the country becoming more politically correct.” The question in the poll, like the framing of the article, is.. odd.The full question is:

“In general, are you in favor of the United States becoming more politically correct and like when people are being more sensitive in their comments about others, or are you against the country becoming more politically correct and upset that there are too many things people can’t say anymore?”

Asma Khalid called this a good definition of politcal correctness in the most recent episode of the NPR Politics podcast. I don’t think so. The question is neitehr a fitting definition of politcal correctness nor a neutral one, but rather a definition that at the very least leans towards the use of the term “political correctness” as a right-wing fighting word. It connects “politcal correctness” to censorship.

Not using certain words and supporting certain concepts isn’t about censorship, it’s about not continuing to hurt people.

What’s Making Me Happy This Week?

I want to establish a weekly series on this blog called “What’s Making Me Happy This Week,” lifted from everyone’s favorite segment on the best pop culture podcast. But somehow, despite the okay week I’ve had and the sunshine outside, it seems wrong to publish a column called “something something happy” today. You know, with the Tomahawks in the south and the truck in the north.  But then again, when would it be truly appropriate to post a happy post? 

So here are my two favorite morsels of pop culture: 

* Stown, the This American Life/Serial podcast. It’s amazing, TAL storytelling at its best. But be warned, if you’re struggling with depression: Only listen to it on a good day. It’s not an abstract, whodunnit true crime story, but rather the intimate detail of a shit town and a man struggling with the world and his place in it.  

*Good news: There is a new At the Drive-In album on the horizon and the first few singles are actually good. For your sad/angry/happy/content  weekend listening pleasure, here is a Spotify playlist of the entire At the Drive-In discography. (The end of Invalid Litter Dept. always feels cathartic.)

Now, I can’t help but feel that the 52 percent of my fellow Ohioans who voted for Trump want my family and me out. I look at my neighborhood and this is all I can think. Because it’s predominantly white and upper-middle class, it likely leaned even more toward Trump. This is what that “silent majority,” which Trump named as his fan base, has been clamoring for: The right to screen and assess us. The right to deport us en masse. America has been yearning for a past that was as white as fresh snow before our muddy brown boots stomped through it. The country has been telling us this all along. We just didn’t want to hear it.

Muslims Have No Place In Donald Trump’s America : Code Switch : NPR 

Beenish Ahmed on Trump’s victory and the legitimization of explicit racism and islamophobia.

100 Days of Bad Ideas

The smart people at NPR Politics went through Trump’s “Contract with the America Voter,” i.e. his first 100 days plan, to see how feasible is.
For example, here is their analysis of Trump’s plan to gut the Affordable Care Act:

The GOP Congress has already demonstrated its willingness to repeal the insurance tax subsidies and Medicaid expansion portions of the Affordable Care Act, along with the requirement that all Americans have health insurance, using a fast-track legislative maneuver known as “reconciliation” that prevents a Democratic filibuster. President Obama vetoed that measure, but President-elect Trump would presumably sign it. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that could strip health insurance coverage from more than 20 million people – although the change would most likely be phased in over a couple of years. Trump’s replacement plan is less clear. Health savings accounts would allow more people to buy insurance with pre-tax dollars, and selling insurance across state lines might increase competition and reduce prices. But coverage will very likely remain out of reach for many. The requirement that insurance companies provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions cannot be repealed through reconciliation. But preserving that requirement without the individual mandate to purchase insurance could create a costly situation in which people wait until they’re sick to buy coverage.

Trump’s rejection of Obamacare without presenting a true alternative for those insured by the program alone shows that his plan only creates a government of, by and for some people.  

Car Seat Headrest: Vincent

Damn, this is good

The build up is amazing, reminds me not only of Television but also of Travels, the middle part got a twang and a groove that reminds me of Cake, and the lyrics really resonate with me. The songs is on one level about being at a party, as Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo described in an email to Bob Boilen (All Songs Considered is really hyping up the forthcoming record) but also express so much more.

Like living in Konstanz:

for the past year I’ve been living in a town
that gets a lot of tourists in the summer months
they come and they stay for a couple days
but hey, I’m living here every day

Wednesday Night Melody

This week in “punk bands I discover on NPR:” Bleached with "Wednesday Night Melody. The sound reminds me of pre-midlife crisis Weezer, the video is an alt. Weekend at Bernie’s, part unsettling, part fun. Hauntingly catchy.


Their new record Welcome The Worms is out April 1 on Dead Oceans.


What’s Making Me Happy This Week III

Spraynard live on NPR’s Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

I’m at a weird point in my life where I fall for punk bands recommended on NPR shows.

Spraynard play the kind of emotional pop punk that will forever have a special place in my heart and mind. Brilliant. Check out their great album Mable on bandcamp.   

What’s Making Me Happy This Week (II)

Inspired by my favorite pop culture podcast, NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, I want to introduce a new recurring feature for my blog: A post about something (pop)cultural I’ve read, seen, or heard the past week that makes me happy.

This week: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I finally saw the new installment of the great space pew pew saga, and I really liked it. I think it’s at least as strong as the very first Star Wars. After the credits rolled and the Bad Robot did its thing, I was excited and actually immediately wanted to see the sequel – and that is a rare thing, as I usually find sequels to be unnecessary, if not downright despisable. The main reason I want another fix:  Rey, Finn, and Poe, aka the new young characters. Even without spoiling any major plot surprises, it’s clear that Rey, played by ,Daisy Ridley, is this movie’s Luke Skywalker. She is the central character, a human scavenger with a knack for droids, absent parents, and a good heart. She’s smart, talented, and strong, neither a damsel-in-distress nor an immediately impeccable warrior. Ridley’s performance is equally charming and clever, it’s wonderful to watch her act. (This makes it mind-bogglingly sexist that Rey as a character wasn’t part of a lot of merchandise)

The other two new leads are similarly clever, charming and flawed. Oscar Isaac’s-wing pilot Poe has a last man standing soldier’s swagger and is the new generation of the Resistance. John Boyega’s stormtrooper turned conscientious objector turned Black Han Solo is as great a character as Rey, and they have an almost immediate on-screen chemistry that is more battle-ready than romantic. (I hope that stays that way.) In addition to the great movie and acting performance, I’m really excited about the new stage of stardom that is possible for these three actors. The Force Awakens is the first time I saw Daisy Ridley on stage, but I’ve been rooting for Oscar Isaac’s since he played a restless folk singer in Inside Llewyn Davis, and John Boyega was amazing as crew leader and alien defeater in Attack the Block.

While all three have great potential, Boyega maybe has shown the greatest range so far. I’m sure it’ll be exciting to see what both these three actors and their characters do next.