Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is Victoria Jackson a communist?

A while ago I got a kick out of watching a video of Victoria Jackson of former SNL fame rant about Obama at the Pasadena Tea Party.  Why would I get such a kick out of it?  Well, for one, she is so completely over the top.  Honestly, at first I thought it was a parody... that's how bad she is.  But then as I realized she was serious I even more hysterical because she sounds insane.  And to think the crowd actually thought she had any relevant arguments!

I searched for more of her appearances and watched them all for a hearty laugh. One of the things which struck me was how she tried to smear Obama as an Alinsky-ite or as someone who used Alinsky-like tactics.  Here is a clip of a song she wrote... (which may make me revoke the crown of Worst.Lyric.Ever from Eminem)... IF you can last to the 1:25 - 1:30 mark on the video, it is the place where she details one piece of her 'evidence' that Obama is a communist - he taught a course on Saul Alinsky.

The article you see floating over her left shoulder is from the World Net Weekly titled:

This caught my attention because it's a common trope on the Right - accusing their opposition of using Alinsky tactics.  Now I actually know a thing or two about Alinsky tactics because I was trained as a community organizer in the tradition of Alinsky.  I know people who worked with Saul in Chicago.  I've read his books.  I've taught the same trainings, and using those 'tactics' helped the communities I worked in win better affordable housing, prevented a truck route from being placed right through the middle of a Latino neighborhood, advanced health care, fought for improved services for the homeless, and more.

A lot of the criticism about Alinsky comes from some of his more creative tactics.  In his book Rules for Radicals he writes about principles for tactics, some of which include:

Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

A good tactic is one your people enjoy.

In my experience these have proven true.  For example, when I worked on the truck route issue I noted above, one of the arguments the city made was that the noise levels would not constitute a problem for the homes in the neighborhood.  So... in preparation for a public meeting we held on the issue, folks from the neighborhood went out to the existing truck route, set up a camera and microphone and recorded trucks driving by.  Then, during the meeting, we had the City Code Enforcement Officer bring in his decibel measuring device (this is what they use to tell you if the music is too loud at your party...) turned up the sound of the trucks driving by to the level the City said it would be, and had the meeting continue with the sound of trucks driving by.  It was obvious to everyone in the room, city officials, the media, the public, that it was impossible to carry on a conversation over the sound of the trucks.  We made the city look like schmucks. The folks loved it. And, we won.

But I'm left with this memory of Victoria Jackson disparaging Alinsky-like tactics and all that was a while ago.  

The other night, we decided to have a family movie night.  Some friends had given us a cute movie called 
No More BathsNow this movie is produced by a company called Feature Films for Families and it's all about teaching how kids can come together to create positive change. 

Here is what Amazon reviews said: 
"Am I my brother’s keeper?" to 10-year-old Keagan, this isn’t a question but a way of life. After learning to help others by watching his parents work as legal-aid attorneys in his youth, Keagan puts his lessons to good use by watching out for his aging neighbor Jake. Years ago, after a fire took his family, Jake opened up his home and heart to the children of Glenwood Springs who come to play on his lot each day. When Jake gets in the way of a greedy developer, government bureaucrats are content to push him aside, but they don’t anticipate Keagan McPhie. Keagan organizes the Glenwood Springs Kids Corp into a powerful force of peaceful protest to help Jake and remind adults of their responsibility to a friend in need.
Starring none other than.... Ms. Victoria Jackson!  (Who, plays the exact same character she plays on SLN and as Speaker at the Tea Parties... a bleached blond bumbling airhead....)

My mind exploded...

See, in the movie, the hero Keagan "organizes the Glenwood Springs Kids Corp into a power force of peaceful protest".  OK, all nice and good... but what tactics do they use?  When their initial protest of a march doesn't work, they call together a meeting to think about how they could leverage their parents to helping Jake.  As you probably guessed from the title, they opt for No More Baths!  A tactic that not only uses ridicule, but is guaranteed to be one that Keagan's people (the other kids) enjoy.

The little band of kids soon realize that not bathing isn't enough, so they up the ante by playing in the dirt and mud to make sure they're really filthy.  My kids loved this scene and the scenes where they refuse to bathe. And as the protest continues, Keagan and his band of 'filthy' Alinsky-ites involve the media (another good tactic for any organization trying to get its message out).

My family enjoyed the movie and had a lot of fun... but I was left with this bizzaro world moment where Victoria Jackson starred in a movie extolling the virtues of Alinsky-like tactics...

Which leads me to wonder.... Is Victoria Jackson a communist?

Footnote: If you'd like to learn more about Saul Alinsky, his work, and his legacy please check out The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinksy & His Legacy (you can see a preview on

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Smoke and mirrors baby...

The Tea Party has racists elements in it. Period.  (See signs below for proof).

But CNN's Don Lemon missed a big chance here, and I think a lot of other folks have as well. There is this insanity to personalize the public; by which I mean, this incessant pursuit to get people to say they are sorry.

The Tea Party is a public institution and Mark Williams was acting in a public role when he posted his 'satirical'  letter to Lincoln on his blog (I'll give him it was satire... racist satire...).  You can see a screen shot of the blog at the bottom of this post but the point I'm trying to make is how we have moved from public to private...

We witness it here in this interview with racist Mark Williams...

The key point of Williams post was misdirection and he continues it in this interview. Lemon reads the quote from the blog post emphasizing the word ‘colored’.

Lemon: Are you still defending this as satire Mark?

Williams: I defend the idea behind it… but when a group that calls itself ‘colored people’ says it is against freedom, and emancipation, and it’s against self-determination… uh, the first thing that pops into my mind is that those colored people must be speaking for some bizarre group of people that I’m not familiar with…

Lemon sticks on the word colored…

Williams later in the interview… “I used the intent behind their resolution”

Lemon, trying to get the on air scoop of “I’m sorry”…. : Are you sorry for writing those things?

Williams: (F*** off, I’m not going to say it… ) "When their goal in the resolution they passed was to increase government dependency…"

The NAACP’s resolution condemned extremist elements within the Tea Party, calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches.

What racism you ask?

By focusing on the personal Lemon missed a huge hole in the Tea Party’s argument. If he had asked Williams to repeat the resolution, or read it to him, he could have followed with…

Mark, you’re a smart guy, tell me how a resolution that calls on you and other leaders in the Tea Party to repudiate those who use racists language... how is that akin to increasing government dependency? Or how is rejecting racism akin to standing against freedom, emancipation, and self-determination?"

Instead of getting him to say he's sorry, how about ask him about how he is using misdirection to avoid the charges of racism?

If are interested in more of how the Right uses racist language, I urge you to check out

Over the Cliff: How Obama's Election Drove the American Right Insane

by Amato & Neiwert

Here is William's original post:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gotta give creds...

As the Tea Party tries hard to prove it is not racists after clearly racist rants, a spokesperson for the Tea Party, David Webb, draws a clear line and kicked Mark Williams out. What I'm impressed about is the amazing job this spokesperson does.

As they throw him under the train (and just as they should have) they do so in a way that crisis-communicators would have to applaud...

Let me be totally clear here... I think the Tea Party movement is an orchestrated astro-turf created movement which grew its own legs and now runs around saying and doing crazy stuff.  I think they are ill-informed, dangerous, lose cannons.

But this guy Webb impressed me.  Simply from a communication point of view.  He comes across strong and confident. He admits Wiliams is over the top, throws him under the bus without blinking an eye, and moves to control the debate.
I thought it amazing how he skirted the racism issue... I thought it was a fair to use the line 'I don't know what is in his heart'... but it was a clear skirt.

Ben Jealous does a great job as a spokesperson for the NAACP picking apart the Tea Party talking points.

A win for the NAACP here but creds go to David Webb for a great interview.

Friday, July 16, 2010

And in contrast to the last post...

From The Cat Empire's latest release Cinema, I present Only Light

Thank you Cat Empire for being so ridiculously good it blows my mind.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Worst. Lyric. Ever.

Eminen has as new song out featuring Rihanna called Love the way you lie.

It's a decent song but in Eminen raps about his woman leaving him...

"Now you get to watch her leave out the window...I guess thats why it's called window pane"


Worst. Lyric. Ever.

Dear God....

Please let this be true!

Can you imagine a Beck / Palin ticket?  Sadly for me, (as well as John Stewart, Steven Colbert and all other comedians) it doesn't look like that is a possibility.

Friday, July 9, 2010

My dog might be slightly retarded.

I read a great piece over at Hyperbole and a Half and wanted to share it...Dog

A lingering fear of mine was confirmed last night:  My dog might be slightly retarded.

I've wondered about her intelligence ever since I adopted her and subsequently discovered that she was unable to figure out how stairs worked.

Read the rest of the hilarious piece here ...
Allie is a brilliant writer and you should spend your days reading her posts.