All the local stations are calling it. Coakley conceded. Somehow Massachusetts elected a forced-birth advocating, birth-certificate denying, Kennedy-hating teabagger.

I am deeply ashamed of my state right now. Congratulations, fellow voters. If you’re a wealthy, straight, white, able-bodied, Christian man between 35 and 60 who has a recession-proof job, high-quality, low-cost health insurance, and a small enough heart to only care about people just like you, Scott Brown might not be that bad for you.

Anyone know of any expatriate newspapers looking for a good editor?


The Senate race is giving me heart palpitations

Wish I had a moment to say something more in-depth, but since I’m using my lunch break to both eat and post this, I’ll have to settle for a few thoughts.

1. The weather here is shitty—wet, sloppy snow—and that probably helps Brown. Low turnouts are generally good for challengers because their voters tend to be more motivated. They’ll turn out in muck to change the system, whereas supporters of incumbents (or members of entrenched incumbent parties, in this case) feel their candidate is safe without their votes and are more easily convinced to stay home.

2. However, turnout has been surprisingly strong so far, which I think is a good sign for Coakley. It could be that every last member of Brown’s base is at the polls and they alone are enough to make turnout look high for an off-year special election, but I doubt it. What I think is happening is that all the national coverage of Brown’s surge has led a lot of complacent Massachusetts liberals to realize that, for once, the primaries were not the only vote that matters. The same goes for people who were going to stay home because because, you know, Coakley sucks, who’re now realizing that it’s important to hold their noses and vote the ticket if they don’t want zombie Ted Kennedy on their doorsteps tomorrow.

3. It’s important to note that the Globe article is referring to strong turnout in Boston, which is usually very strongly Democratic and always the source of the lion’s share of the state’s votes. In Boston, most people can walk to their polling places. This may make a difference, because the largest Republican enclaves are on the Cape and along the I-495 loop that skirts the city, where all those people who have office jobs in Boston but don’t want to see a person of color in their neighborhood live. If it snows hard enough, especially if the roads get bad, those people might decide to go straight home after work. A girl can dream.

4. If Scott Motherfucking Brown wins this election, I’m moving to France, where I can vote Socialist, spend a month on the Riviera every summer, and drink red wine by the gallon. À bientôt, mes amis.

Reason #5092 Mel Gibson offends my every sensibility

I saw the 30-second TV cut of this trailer probably 3 or 4 times before I realized that the reason Mel Gibson sounded like he was wearing someone else’s dentures was that he was trying to effect a Boston accent. Even then, it only clicked because I recognized a quarter-second shot of the I-93 tunnel.

Which is really to say, Hi, I’m not dead. Just busy with new-job stuff. Please continue to bear with me while I adjust.

Goodbye, Teddy

I hope to have coherent thoughts on the death of Senator Kennedy in a few days, but I’m having trouble pulling them together right now.

I will miss him. And although our standard-bearer may have fallen, the best way to heal ourselves and pay tribute to him is to keep fighting. Not in his name, but for his causes. As my boyfriend said, Teddy would probably rather the health care bill be called the “Ted Kennedy Was A Drunken Schmuck Health Care Act” and include a robust public option than have it lionize him but be toothless itself.

Those interested in paying tribute to the late senior Senator from Massachusetts should head to the memorial website his family has set up,, and those in the area who are thinking of attending one of the public mourning events in his honor can find information about the arrangements here.

Dear everyone: Being an asshole is not a crime

God, I thought I had said all I had to say about this, but the unending dipshittery of the American public in general and my fellow Bostonians in particular forces me to post on the arrest of Professor Gates once again.

Allow me to enumerate some of the asshattery:

  • Last night, the president gave a long national address about healthcare. Today’s main headline on the Boston Globe? “Obama scolds Cambridge police.”
  • The cop, Sgt. Crowley, went on a local conservative talk radio show to give his version of events (Summary: Gates just would not shut up!), and said he thinks it’s “regrettable” that the president or anyone else would comment on the story without knowing all the facts. A Globe blogger basically calls Crowley a hero for not voicing full-throated agreement with the hosts’ bilious criticism of Obama, instead just demurely refusing to disagree. (So much more, after the jump.) Continue reading

Being angry and black is a crime in Cambridge

I mean, it’s a crime most everywhere, but Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., is certainly the most high-profile person to get arrested for it in a while.

For those who haven’t yet heard the story, Professor Gates, director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, was returning home from a week-long trip to China and discovered that his front door was stuck. He and the driver from the car service he was using attempted to force it open, and the sight of two black men trying to break open a door prompted a neighbor to call the Cambridge police. A cop showed up after Gates had gotten in through the back door, asked that Gates prove he lived there, and then, after some kind of unfriendly exchange, arrested Gates for “tumultuous” behavior.

The cop’s report, which the Boston Globe had made available but then took down without explanation, said that Gates accused him of racism, told him he didn’t know who he was messing with, and made some kind of incoherent “your mama” remark. Gates says he simply requested, repeatedly, the cop’s name and badge number, and when the cop left his house without replying, he followed the officer to his front porch, where he was arrested.

I think this is one of those instances where the truth actually does, in all likelihood, lie somewhere between the two versions. I think that Gates—tired, jetlagged, understandably outraged—probably said something not-nice to the cop, although it probably did not contain the phrase “your mama.” And I believe the cop did refuse to give Gates information, an explanation, or at least a cursory apology for inconveniencing him.

But even if we try to cast this in a light that is as friendly as possible to the police—for example, if Gates were belligerent and loud from the second they showed up, if he swore at them and refused to cooperate, if he threatened them with lawsuits and ignored protestations that they were just doing their jobs (none of which I believe to be true)—the Cambridge PD is still clearly guilty of, at the very least, abusing its power. Cops really, really don’t like it when they think people don’t respect them, and Gates probably was guilty of insufficient asskissery. But we have laws against throwing people in jail for saying shit that the authorities don’t like, so it was the cop’s duty to swallow his anger, bid Gates a polite goodbye, and leave. But he didn’t do that; he decided to teach Gates a lesson about how you talk to cops.

And, realistically, his decision was almost certainly affected by Gates’ race. I can’t read the dude’s mind, obviously, but even if he weren’t thinking anything so blatantly racist as “I’ll put this uppity black dude in his place,” he probably would have been a little more willing to believe Gates’ statement that he lived there if Gates were white. He probably would have found it a little easier to ignore his anger and wounded pride at not being deferentially sucked up to. He probably would have been less inclined to see Gates’ heated remarks as disturbing the peace rather than justifiable anger that will pass when its cause is removed. He probably would have been less likely to think he could get away with arresting a Harvard professor if that professor’s wealth and powerful connections were written all over his pale skin.

That’s the kind of racism many people face and many of us perpetuate today. There are still people in white hoods, yes, and people willing to say out loud and without apology that Mexicans are lazy and black people are thieves and Asians are emotionless mathbots, but there are also a lot more people whose opinions have been shaded by these stereotypes in ways that can be hard for their holders to detect. All of us have received these messages from our culture, and all of our thinking has been, in varying degrees, shaped by these messages. Even those of us who fight against discrimination and work to eliminate our own prejudices whenever we can identify them.

The Cambridge police and prosecutor’s office have announced they will drop all charges against Gates. In a few days they will probably release a statement about how they don’t engage in racial profiling, and some of that officer’s best friends are black. But even if no one involved in the situation thought they were treating Gates any differently than they would treat a white man, their actions still seem racist, and they need to be called on it.

Charges against Professor Gates dropped

I just saw a breaking news report on TV announcing that the Cambridge PD was dropping all charges against Professor Henry Louis Gates, who was arrested yesterday for trying to get into his own house.

Update: Finally! A linkable source. This post will be updated when I have a source to link, and I’ll put up a real post later today.