Friday, December 16, 2005


The Latest Trump Card...

Congrats to Randal Pinkett, the newest winner on The Apprentice.

After previous close calls like
Kwame Jackson, Randal became the first black winner -- for whatever that is worth. On the whole, however, even though ratings may have been down, I thought this was the strongest "Apprentice" since the first season.

I also thought it was gutsy of Randal not to accept Trump's odd offer/request at the end to select Rebecca as a "co-winner." Come on, Donald! You're the guy who's always talking about being THE BEST and there can only be one clearcut winner in business!

Trump was the one
complaining that Martha Stewart's edition contributed to his main brand's lower ratings.

So, how could he feel that Randal would want a watered down sense of victory by "sharing" it with Rebecca?

Randal -- who won three tasks during the season and gained near-universal praise from his fellow players -- had a nice easy-going disposition. But his turning down of Trump's offer -- which would have made him look like "Mr. Nice Guy" -- shows that he also has the steel will and appropriate sense of competitive pride that a Donald Trump should value.

UPDATE: Thanks, Ken, you said it even better than I.

UPDATE II: Entrenched debate on the finale -- including whether it was 'racist' to ask Randal to share the victory. Well, it is understandable why someone might think that: Trump was essentially changing the rules when presented with a black "winner." On the other hand, this season, Trump changed things around a bit: Two weeks, there were were two "fireers" and then there was the first time ever mass firing -- the dismissal of four contenders in one swoop. So, it is fair to say that Trump has been keeping people guessing. However, I remain continue to maintain that asking Randal (or anyone) to "share" the victory is a difference, not in degree, but in kind. For Trump to do so was as out of character for him as Randal's demurral was (allegedly) for him. In turning Trump down, Randal ironically maintained the integrity of the show -- even though some viewers feel (wrongly) that it was at the cost of his own.

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Who's The Man?

It would seem to be John MCain -- and not George W. Bush.

Even on a day that White House defenders wouldn't be completely wrong in saying that the Iraqi election helps vindicate Bush's policy, a sense of weakness on the home-front could be seen eating away as
the White House completely surrendered to John McCain's anti-torture bill..

This maneuver came just a few hours after the House of Representatives adopted the same language that
passed the Senate 90-9.

Meanwhile, the president seems to be on an extended run of mea culpas. Wednesday, he said that he took
responsibility for the flawed intelligence that helped make the case for war -- though he says he would have done things exactly the same.

And all the while, McCain just continues smiling. Though there were regular reports floating about a "compromise" on the language, McCain has seemingly never budged.

The great irony here is that McCain managed to use the same Manichean moralism to get the Senate and the House to go along with his anti-torture crusade. The administration argued for flexibility; McCain insisted on a bright line: The United States does not tolerate torture -- finesse it as you wish, but that includes things like "waterboarding."

In short, you're either with us or with the torturers. McCain arguably beat the administration at its own rhetorical game.

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Here In My Car...

...where the image breaks down...
OK. I'm going to try this one last time, just so I don't (continue to) look like a complete idiot (see comments at previous post) when it comes to my knowledge of Madison Avenue's automobile messages. For clarity's sake:

Dodge: "Built Ram Tough"
Chevy: "Like A Rock"
Ford: "Built Ford Tough" and (historically) "Have You Driven A Ford Lately?"
Toyota: "We're destroying the U.S. car market, so who cares about GM, Ford or Any other American brands?"

Robert A George: "Have I Paid Attention To A Car Commercial -- Lately? Obviously Not."

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Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Ford: Like A Crock?

If Ford cars are supposed to be built "ram tough", why does the company cave so quickly?*

Facing a threatened boycott from the
American Family Association, Ford decided to pull its ads from gay publications. That action, in turn, has spurred retaliatory actions from outraged gay activists.

OK, so its one more blip in the culture wars, right? A "mainstream" company caught between two interest groups, right?

Well, that is true in part, but I think one can discern who has the "higher ground" here -- logically, if not "morally" -- with one question:

Why does the American Family Association even care where Ford spends its advertising dollars?

This controversy is very different than, say, that of recent years when "pro-family" groups
protested "Gay Day" at Orlando's Disney World. While any private company should be allowed to host the special promotions of any law-abiding group, one can understand that a heterosexual family visiting a traditional theme park might be surprised if they stumbled upon a weekend catering to same-sex couples.

One might disagree with the demand that Disney be boycotted, but also see that traditional parents might have a point in not wanting to be unfairly "surprised" in a quasi-public entertainment venue that once was considered synonymous with the adjective "family."

But social conservatives have little claim in the Ford case.

How are their rights -- or their ability to raise their children in the way that they desire -- being infringed upon because an automobile company chooses to advertise in gay media? It is not even as if Ford chose to produce an ad featuring obviously gay couples and placed them in mainstream media outlets that could offend "traditional" sensibilities. If Junior sees a Ford Expedition in the middle of a gay magazine, well, it wasn't Ford that forced him to pick up the magazine in the first place.

Via e-mail Deroy Murdock, syndicated columnist with Scripps Howard News Service, adds:

Social conservatives have said that their crusade against gay marriage is all about preserving the sanctity of matrimony and protecting the best interests of children. Anti-gay bias has nothing to do with it, or so they claim. How, then, do they explain this initiative? What do car ads have to do with those who drive them, presumably pairs of men who love each other? How does a Land Rover ad in The Advocate magazine prevent a little boy or girl from enjoying a positive upbringing?

The American Family Association is engaging in pure homophobia. This group would be better off addressing true threats to the family, namely divorce, deadbeat dads, spousal abuse, or other aspects of irresponsibility among heterosexuals.
But, again, why can't Ford make this argument: It's a private company and should be permitted to make various creative gestures to attract and develop a varied customer base.

It's not that hard.

*UPDATE/CORRECTION: Slightly harder for me to keep my advertising slogans straight. "Ram tough" is a Dodge truck tagline. Should have stayed with the "like a rock" allusion that's in the header. Can rarely go wrong with Bob Seger...

UPDATE II: On a slightly related note, John Cole identifies a rather "interesting" public-service suggestion from Accuracy In Media. As John says, you can't make things like this up.

UPDATE III: Ford caves again -- in the right, uh, "correct" direction this time! The entire episode did not exactly cover the company in glory. They've now been identified as having a management structure that runs terrified depending on who's providing the pressure. Hardly a confidence-building anecdote for investors.
A car that gets crushed on both the right and left sides usually ends up being totaled.

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Pryor Claims

Two very different views on the recently passed comedic icon:

Greg Tate in the Village Voice.

Stanley Crouch in the New York Daily News.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Um, I Know This Is Just Plain Wrong...

...but I'm still laughing my arse off!

And, as anyone who knows me will tell you: I like Bono!

Oh well, just one more
DATA point in the graph that will ultimately determine whether I'm going to hell...


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Mississippi Madness

Now that the celebrity culture has expended so much energy on a guy who -- redemptive acts aside -- was pretty much guilty of four murders (plus an unknown many more via the gang, the Crips, he founded), will any of them focus on someone who's guilty only of protecting his home and baby daughter?

Radley Balko has the outrageous details of the
Cory Maye story.

Hat tip:
John Cole. A Kos diarist has more.

And lest anyone think that these "wrong address" drug raids are once-in-a-blue-moon rarities, take note of the tragedy that occurred in Harlem just
a couple of years ago. A person ended up dead. It wasn't a police officer; it was a 57 year- old grandmother who went into cardiac arrest after the cops tossed a flash grenade into her apartment (wrongly-identified by an informant as the site of a narcotics ring).

This is a case where anti-death penalty and legal reform types on the left and pro-Second Amendment/civil libertarian groups on the right should be forming a coalition to step forward for Mr. Maye.

UPDATE: Balko is just about all-Maye-all-the-time. Check his blog frequently.

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Tookie's Final Tale

Convicted murderer Stanley Tookie Williams went to his final reward this morning after Governor Schwarzenegger refused the Crips founder clemency on Monday. Given 26 years of trials and appeals after the murder of four people at two convenience store robberies, this seems like a fair process.

Did Williams show some "redemption" by turning to writing children's books? Perhaps. Of course, the irony is that being a quarter century on death row because of having an extended access to the judicial process allows for an equally extended period of time to try to do something "positive."

My sometime sparring partner Julianne Malveaux writes an
amazingly sensible column on the Williams case. She's anti-death penalty, but is very clear why this guy shouldn't be the poster child for the latest celebrity cause.

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