Round-Up June 27 2013


The Forest Park Carousel has become a landmark.

Kaite Roiphe argues that feminist literary critics are making a mistake by accusing male authors with flawed protagonists of sexism.

Robinson writes of Salter’s main character in All That Is: “Cold and withholding, Bowman’s character denies the deepest and most fundamental aspects of compassion.” She writes that he “feels entitled to his vindictiveness: He has no scruples and feels no remorse.” She does not, in other words, like him very much.

Of course all of this evokes the recent fracas over Claire Messud’s character being unlikable. Messud implied it was sexist to say a female character should be likable; but Robinson is essentially saying Salter is sexist for his male character being unlikable. Which brings us to the question: Does everyone have to write likable characters? (Robinson seems to think yes, as even Lolita can’t be counted as great literature in her book because Humbert Humbert is not conflicted enough to be sympathetic.) But should our central experience of literature be whether or not we would like to take the protagonist out to dinner? Should we be combing books for friends, or lovers, or even characters whose actions we can wholeheartedly condone?

Ars Technica describes the Icelandic teenager who became an informant against Julian Assange, with a copy of the email he used to get in touch with the US government.

Andrea Chalupa argues for the need for more screenplays by women.

Apparently, there is a way to cool down an overheated car pretty quickly.

Serhend Sirkecioglu sees a need for more contests for younger comic book writers and artists, as well as more artistic grants.

Ed Markey has shattered the record for longest stint in the House of Representatives for anyone elected to the Senate.

Harry Enten of the Guardian suggests Republicans don’t have to change their positions to win presidential elections.

There’s been a lot of hype around Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 run and rightly so. That said, most understand that her current general election polling numbers won’t stand up over time. She’s still coming off a height of popularity since serving in the non-partisan position of Secretary of State. As she has reentered the fray, her favorables have fallen off a little and should continue to as they have in the past when she pursues a partisan agenda.

At this point, a better feel of how a Democrat might do if the election were held today is polling involving Vice President Biden. Biden is a well-known standard bearer of the Democratic label. He’s been serving in a partisan office for as long as many have been alive. His favorable ratinggenerally matches up with President Obama’s approval rating in the polls.

Last month, Biden was either neck-and-neck or trailed leading Republicans. He was 1pt ahead of Marco Rubio and 2pt ahead of Rand Paul in an early May Public Policy Polling survey. He was behind by 4pt against Paul and 6pt behind Jeb Bush in a Quinnipiac poll.

All of them are also less well-known than Biden, yet they are polling at or ahead of him. You could argue that Bush is more moderate than the mainstream Republican candidates, though, Rubio and Paul are almost certainly to the right of it. They incidentally are three of the top four leading contenders for the nomination right now. You wouldn’t expect mainstream Republican candidates to be polling this well if the party were too out of the mainstream to win.

Reihan Salam thinks there’s a bit more to it.

The conceptual problem with Enten’s piece, in my view, is that some measure of “adjustment” is inevitable, as the issue mix changes from election cycle to election cycle. Issues that were not salient in 2012 will be salient come 2016, and the process of taking a stand on emerging issues will necessarily entail shifts of emphasis, etc. The central claim made by conservative reformers or reform conservatives (or whatever we’re called this week) is that the party still needs a compelling post-Reagan, post-crisis domestic policy agenda that resonates with middle-income voters. A related claim is that though, as Enten notes, the average voter felt that Mitt Romney was closer to them ideologically than Barack Obama, this didn’t mean that the average voter felt that Romney’s policy agenda was more responsive to her needs and concerns, which is the more salient question.



Andrew Sullivan does not like Bill Clinton.

The man has never fully owned the damage he did to gay people and to the cause of equality. As for GLAAD, please. I saw Clinton’s hypocrisy and callousness up close in trying to persuade donors and HRC and the rest at the time.

The Clintons wanted marriage equality to go away fast; and HRC and all the major donors went along. Bill Clinton’s sociopathic side was never better illustrated, in many ways. Years later, Dick Morris actually asked me out to lunch to apologize for DOMA. Weird, but at least honest. Clinton can never accept he was a true fighter against civil rights as president. But he was. He’ll now say what he can to get back into power via his wife’s candidacy – including all the right things on marriage.

But he wasn’t just a fair-weather friend as president; he was our enemy – and more lethal because he was a Democrat and gave legitimacy to the opposition like no one else. I’m happy he’s for us now; but he sure was against us then. Clinton administration official Bob Hattoy once summed up Clinton’s views on the entire subject in his presidency: “It’s the economy, faggot.”

The Onion had a great take on the gay marriage decision. It may be incorporated into the decisions of several TV shows.

Ian Millhisser of Thinkprogress suggest liberals shouldn’t like Justice Kennedy.

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at
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