Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Links for Wednesday

with 6 comments

* Domestic terrorism watch: a gas line was cut at the home of Virginia Representative Tom Perriello’s brother one day after the address was posted on a Tea Party blog advising those angry about the health care decision to “drop by.” The FBI is investigating. Bart Stupak has also been receiving death threats. Ten members of Congress have received increased security protection in the wake of the health care passage.

* Of course, Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are continuing to egg these nuts on.

* Fox News continues to devote its august attention to the real stories, like the possibility that terrorists could use breast implants to bring down airplanes.

* Insane GOP obstructionism brings Senate reform closer. Today they invoked the ridiculous “2 PM” rule to block a meeting of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Supporting the troops! Because, you know, country first.

* Leading GOP Congressmen are already seeking to take credit for the health care bill they spent the last 18 months demonizing—even while other factions in the party continue to demonize it:

What House Minority Leader John A. Boehner has called the Battle of Capitol Hill is over. I expect that the Battle of the Electorate is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of a nonsocialist America. Upon it depends our own American way of life and the long continuity of our institutions and our history. The whole fury and might of the media and the Democratic party must very soon be trained on the electorate.

If they can stand up to the coming propaganda, America may be free, and the life of the wider free world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

But if the voters succumb to those seven months of blandishments and deceptions, then free America — including all that we have known and cared for — will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Oh, no! Not perverted science!

* Is Health Care Reform Constitutional?The paper reviews the relevant features of the legislation, Congress‟ rationale and record supporting the requirement (generally called the “individual mandate”), relevant constitutional provisions and judicial precedents, and reform opponents‟ arguments challenging the lawfulness of the mandate. The paper concludes that the mandate is lawful and clearly so – pursuant either to Congress‟ authority to “regulate commerce among the several states,” or to its authority to “lay and collect taxes to provide for the General Welfare.”1 With respect to Congress‟ interstate commerce authority, the goals that drive this legislation – including achieving universal coverage, eliminating adverse selection, eliminating pre-existing conditions as a prerequisite for coverage, facilitating broad-scale pooling of individuals not covered by group health plans, and radically reducing costly emergency room visits by uninsured individuals – are eminently lawful objects for the exercise of that power. In the context of current health insurance market circumstances and the framework of the legislation, the use of an individual mandate, structured as it is to ensure affordability for all who are subject to it, is likewise an eminently rational and well-supported (“necessary and proper” in the words of Article I, §8) means for achieving these goals. The same goals and choice of means fit the mandate snugly within precedents broadly defining Congress‟ authority to tax and spend. (via Ezra Klein)

* Why so many colleges (including Duke!) are teaching The Wire.

* 1,000 days of embargo in Gaza.

* Headlines I can believe in: “James Cameron: Glenn Beck Is A ‘Madman’ & ‘F**king A**hole.'”

* A brief history of whiteness.

* And Jim DeMint gets Waterlooed. Hasn’t happened to a nicer guy since Mr. Burns. (Sorry, German and Spanish only!)

6 Responses

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  1. still find it disturbing that social science classes are relying on a TV drama for primary content. i mean an episode or two, fine, but 3+ a week? they should at least get some funding from HBO. And Professor Wilson really needs to sit in on some media studies classes.

    Vu

    March 24, 2010 at 4:18 pm

  2. Yeah, the idea that the bulk of the class is just watching the show strikes me as totally crazy — and bad pedagogy.

    re: TV drama as primary content: This whole aura of “realism” that surrounds The Wire seems to be a huge problem for critics, as I was getting at with chabert the other week. It takes its place in the American social realist tradition, but this is a scripted, intensely melodramatic show. It’s not found footage; it’s not “authentic.” It’s a show.

    gerrycanavan

    March 24, 2010 at 4:25 pm

  3. The article gets at this a bit:

    Jason Mittell aims to give his students a sense of the particular circumstances that shape The Wire. Among other things, it’s a show written by white men about mostly black characters and a show about the urban poor that aired on a premium cable channel. Mittell argues that for all its vaunted realism The Wire still has a particular audience in mind, and that audience shapes the sort of stories the show tells and the way it tells them.

    Take rape. Mittell assigns his students Philippe Bourgois’ book In Search of Respect, an anthropological study of East Harlem crack gangs in the late 1980s and early ’90s. One of the strands that runs through the book is what Bourgois describes as “the prevalence and normalcy of rape.” Rape is not only common among the gang members Bourgois befriended and studied, it is celebrated.

    This is a fact that someone who learned everything about drug gangs from The Wire would be aware of only dimly, if at all. Mittell argues that, conscious or not, this was a decision on the part of the show’s creators. Faced with a choice between verisimilitude and drama’s demand that the audience identify with the characters, the show’s creators, Mittell believes, went with the latter. “It could be that with the specific types of dealers and users that Simon and Burns spent time with, rape was not really part of their culture. The other explanation, which I think is more probable, is that if you portrayed these people as rapists you would lose the ability to make them at all sympathetic and human,” says Mittell.

    Viewers are willing to sympathize with murderers, whether it’s Stringer Bell, Avon Barksdale, or Omar, because there’s a sense that they still have a certain code. Portraying them as rapists would make that much harder, Mittell argues. “Rape is a more taboo and emotionally volatile crime to portray on-screen than murder,” he says. “Imagine the show Dexter, except instead of being a serial killer, he was a serial rapist.”

    gerrycanavan

    March 24, 2010 at 4:28 pm

  4. Though there are undoubtedly more productive examples than the claim “In real life these characters would be irredeemably monstrous.”

    gerrycanavan

    March 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm

  5. re: article on the wire and its pedagogical popularity at duke et al, though i am a fond of the idea of fiction (literature) and film (series tv) being used in a variety of ways to advance objectives in the amelioration of social inequalities, and though i have many respected colleagues who religiously watch the show (though I’ve never seen it), it seems to me that the angst which might otherwise impel one to participate in actual processes of sociality with those directly affected by such inequalities is radically sublimated into a reactionary attempt at a surrogacy of involvement through the pleasure-giving consumption of domesticated, fetishized representations of otherness which are presumed not only to instruct the elite on the quotidian lives of the common, but to distract them from the fact that they are themselves the – we are ourselves – the economic demand, the ideological addressee of a narrative made by one social group about another for the satisfaction of the former’s own self-styled needs.

    Is there a systematic way in which we in the humanities can radically alter the media and therefore the social formations of our “engagement” with “the real world?” Obviously, the well-justified retort to this critique would be: well what are you doing? what do you propose be done? But insofar as these are institutional practices we are discussing as well, and by all means social facts of “real life” on the mean streets of the Ivy League et al, it seems the question is begged not only of individual students like myself who typically do not set curricula or compose for themselves syllabi. Rather it seems a student like myself, or a professor like those referenced above have a responsibility to the very notion of authenticity which seems to pertain to their interest in the content of The Wire, and ask their communities – supposing such channels of communication as would facilitate this process are resources which their vast learning about the real world may grant them access – in what ways they might partner to improve the quality of their members lives. If we are really interested in the experiences of “real” people, it seems we might want to also know some of them at some point and really be a part of their lives.

    Damien

    March 25, 2010 at 12:25 am

  6. [...] Links for Wednesday – The word “Waterloo” has been getting thrown around a lot in political circles here in America this week.  This man had the proper response: * And Jim DeMint gets Waterlooed. Hasn’t happened to a nicer guy since Mr. Burns. (Sorry, German and Spanish only!) [...]


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