Have You Seen This?

January 30, 2010

Did any of you see this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBuG2TdgMn0&feature=channel

Yesterday, President Obama went to the Republican House Caucus, gave a speech, and then answered questions from GOP House members for over an hour.  The give and take was contentious but polite.  It was also fascinating.  And at the end of the day, Congressional aides on the Republican side were questioning whether they had made a mistake by keeping the C-Span cameras rolling.  Every time a GOP questioner tried to use party talking points in a question, Obama corrected them — schooled them, some might say.  He made Mike Pence (Indiana), Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), Joe Pryce (Georgia), and Jeb Hensarling (Texas) look like political hacks (though he did call Jeb “Jim” a few times), and he did it all with charm and humor and eloquence.  He had no notes, no teleprompter, no aides whispering in his ear.   He was thinking on his feet the entire time.   And he ran circles around them.  Don’t believe me?  Watch if for yourself.  It was a masterful performance.

I’m a little late to the party with this one — we had a storm yesterday and it knocked out our internet for a while.  But in what appears to be fall-out from the iPad release and new competition between Apple and Amazon over ebook sales, Amazon has now halted direct sales of all MacMillan books, including Tor imprints, until MacMillan stops insisting that Amazon honor their price points in marketing their products.  In essence, Amazon is trying to bully MacMillan, and by extension other publishers, into charging a certain amount for books.  And until they get their way, they’ve pulled books off their cyber-shelves.  Now, on the one hand, Amazon wants to charge less for ebooks than MacMillan, and the MacMillan price point is probably too high.  But stopping sales of the books hurts authors and consumers, and given that I have releases due out this coming week and again later in February, I’m not happy about this.  Not at all.  Here are some links:

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/amazon-pulls-macmillan-books-over-e-book-price-disagreement/

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/01/29/amazon-and-macmillan.html

http://sleigh.livejournal.com/283370.html

As my friend Laura Anne Gilman points out, this isn’t about price, and it’s not about saving consumers money.  It’s about control.  Amazon is terrified of the iPad and with good reason.  They want to maintain their grip on the publishing biz, and so they’re choking off my sales and those of all my friends at Tor and MacMillan in order to get their way.  Not cool at all.

Tonight’s Address

January 27, 2010

I just read an article on CNN by David Gergen, for whom I have a great deal of respect. This article, though, is ridiculous. Gergen basically argues that Obama has already lost all his ability to govern and the State of the Union address tonight is a waste of time. (The title of the piece is something like “State of the Union DOA?” Seems ridiculous to me. Other Presidents have gone through much rougher political patches than this, and it didn’t mean the end of their political agendas. Pundits and the President’s supporters (not to mention his opponents) need to remember that the Democrats still hold strong majorities in both houses of Congress, and that the President’s job approval is still far higher than that of Congress in general or Congressional Republicans in particular. It may make for splashy headlines to say that the State of the Union is “DOA” but that doesn’t make it true.

Gergen also says that the President needs “to move to the center” beginning tonight. I couldn’t disagree more. Moving to the center is not the solution. the Presdient has already capitulated too much to the GOP. What he needs to do is fight hard on a small number of core issues that will re-energize his base and attract the support of independents. He needs to call on the Senate to reconsider the deficit reduction panel, even if it means passing it through reconciliation (bypassing a cloture vote). He needs to fight hard for his tax on banks and for the financial reform package that has already passed the House. And he needs to come out hard for a new jobs package. Again, if the Senate can’t muster 60 votes for it, use reconciliation to get it through. The time for moving to the center and seeking “bipartisan” solutions is over. The Republicans have made it clear all year long that they’re not interested in working with the President. It’s time for him to whack them over the head with a political two-by-four.

Today’s post can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and C. E. Murphy. The post is called “Writing Your Book, part III: The Opening Pages” and it’s about starting the actual writing of your book. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and by the way, there’s a new contest up on my website: http://www.DavidBCoe.com. Visit the site and maybe you’ll win a signed copy of my upcoming release, The Dark-Eyes’ War!

Today’s post can be found at http://www.sfnovelists.com, the group blog on speculative fiction that I maintain along with a group of over one hundred published authors of fantasy and science fiction. The post is called “Resolution Made; Now, Can I Keep It?” I hope you enjoy it.

The Day After….

January 20, 2010

This is not the special election post-mortem I wanted to write.  Not even close.

I’m not going to bother trying to offer analysis of who’s to blame for the loss — as Nate Silver points out in one of his posts today at 538, there’s plenty of blame to go around.  But I do have a couple of things to say.

To my friends on the right:  Enjoy your victory.  You earned it and it may be the harbinger of more victories in November.  Midterm elections always suck for the party in power and this year won’t be any different.  But don’t be too sure that last night’s results spell the end of the Obama Administration.  Democrats still have 59 Senate seats and over 250 seats in the House, and ten months is a lifetime in politics.  Three years is an eternity.  Bill Clinton lost both houses of Congress in 1994, won reelection two years later in a landslide, and left office with approval ratings that were literally twice as high as George W. Bush’s at the end of his disastrous Presidency.

To my friends on the left:  See above.  It’s way, way too early to panic.  Symbolically speaking, this is a big loss.  And yes, it costs us our 60 vote “super majority” although with DINOs like Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh and Mary Landrieux and Holy Joe Lieberman, I’m not sure how “super” it ever was.  But remember this:  If someone had told us the day before the 2008 election that Obama would win AND we’d have 59 Democrats in the Senate, we would have been ecstatic.  If we can’t govern with the majorities we still have, we don’t deserve to be in power.

To Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi:  For the love of God, get your shit together.  We have huge majorities in both houses — bigger than the Republicans ever had under George W. Bush, and we still can’t get anything done.  That is your fault.  Learn how to govern, for God’s sake.  If the Republicans threaten to fiflbuster LET THEM FILIBUSTER!!  Let them go on TV and talk about pie recipes for 47 hours.  They’ll look like obstructionist idiots, which, as it happens, is what they often are.  Stop caving at the first threat of opposition!  Fight as if your jobs depended on it!  Because they probably do . . .

To President Obama:  I voted for you.  I would gladly vote for you again.  But you have to get over your bipartisanship fetish.  The Republicans are not interested in bipartisanship.  They never have been.  They want to destroy you, even if that means destroying the country at the same time.  They will oppose anything and everything that you propose.  You could endorse their party platform and they would find a reason to block it.  They hate you and everything you stand for.  It’s great that you tried.  Really.  I think you had to, at least for the first couple of months.  But how many times do they have to punch you in the mouth before you’ll stand up and hit them back?  Enough!   Stop trying to work with them.  It’s time to start beating them over the head with a two-by-four.  We elected you to change the tone in Washington if you could, but more than that, we elected you to fight for us, to pass meaningful health care, to save the planet, to kick Wall Street’s ass.  As it turns out, you can’t change the tone in D.C.  You need help to do that, and the GOP isn’t going to help.  So get the rest of it done.  You’ll have the support of a large majority of the public, you’ll have your base behind you, and you might even manage to save a few of those Congressional seats you’re on course to lose.

To the American public:  Please, just for a moment, think back to January 20, 2009.  Try to remember how bad things were when Barack Obama took office.  Yes, unemployment was lower.  Any economist will tell you that unemployment is a lagging indicator, so it gets bad after everything else goes to hell and it recovers after everything else starts to improve.  But think about the rest of it:  The contempt with which other nations looked at us, the fear that our economy was about to tumble into an abyss of historic depth, the feeling that our foreign policy had been out of control for years.  Has Barack Obama fixed everything?  Of course not.  He faced problems the like of which no President since FDR had seen in his first year in office.  But we are better off now than we were a year ago, and I have no doubt that our economy and our national pride will continue to improve under his leadership.  George Bush had eight years to screw things up; let’s say we give Obama a bit more time to clean up his mess.

A Post About Voice

January 18, 2010

Today’s post can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and C. E. Murphy. The post is called “Writing Your Book, part II: Finding Your Voice” and it’s about making your book unique on a a number of levels. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and by the way, there’s a new contest up on my website: http://www.DavidBCoe.com. Visit the site and maybe you’ll win a signed copy of my upcoming release, The Dark-Eyes’ War!

I’ve been kind of absent from the blogosphere recently, except for my weekly Magical Words posts. The “Robin Hood” project was pretty consuming, and I just haven’t had much time to comment on politics or sports or life itself. I’m finally finished, though, and, it seems, just in time. It’s as if in the last week or so the entire world has gone crazy. The Baseball Hall of Fame vote, Mark McGwire’s non-admission admission of steroid use, the tragic deaths of the CIA operatives in Afghanistan.

And, of course, the craziness surrounding the release of the book GAME CHANGE and the revelation that early in the 2008 campaign, Harry Reid said in private that [mostly paraphrasing here] Barack Obama was an ideal African-American candidate because he was “light-skinned” and spoke “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Since the book’s release, Republicans have been equating Reid’s remarks with racially insensitive statements made by then Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in 2002, and have been accusing Democrats and progressives of having a double standard when it comes to racial gaffes of this sort.

In my mind these are two separate matters, and they need to be addressed as such.

Let’s start by looking more closely at the comparison between Lott’s remarks and Reid’s. What Harry Reid said is certainly “inartful” to use the President’s word. It could even be called offensive or at the very least insensitive. It was also, at root, true. Anyone who doesn’t believe that Barack Obama was more successful than previous African-American Presidential candidates because his mother was white and because he speaks without the inflections stereotypically associated with African-American men, is kidding himself. Should Reid have said this? Probably not. But he did so in a private conversation, and while his words were awkward, they were not outrageous.

Compare that with Lott’s statement. Speaking on December 5, 2002, at a public celebration of Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday, Lott, a Mississippi Republican, said this:

When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we [the state of Mississippi] voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over the years, either.

Thurmond ran for President in 1948 as a Dixiecrat, on a strict segregationist platform. In essence, Lott was embracing racist views that Thurmond himself had long since repudiated. If we take him at his word, he actually believed that electing a segregationist in 1948 would have made this country a better place. That’s not “inartful”. That’s not awkward. That is bigotry — unvarnished, raw, shocking. Equating Reid’s remarks with Lott’s is utterly ridiculous, and those who are doing so for political gain ought to be ashamed of themselves.

But what about that second point. Is there a double-standard when it comes to racially insensitive remarks? Is a Republican who says something stupid more likely to be accused of racism than a Democrat who does the same?
To paraphrase Fox News’ newest analyst, “You betchya!”

My question is, why shouldn’t they be?

Let’s look at Reid and Lott again. Reid has been a stalwart supporter of Civil Rights throughout his career. He has been a supporter of affirmative action, of Federal hate crimes legistation, of aid to minority and women owned small businesses. His voting record rating from the NAACP is consistently above 90%.

Trent Lott, on the other hand, opposed the creation of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, opposed affirmative action, and opposed renewal of both the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. The NAACP consistently rated him well below twenty percent.

Is it any wonder that progressive African-Americans are more inclined to give Reid the benefit of the doubt on this occasion? Even if you think his remarks are offensive, there can be no denying that they stand at odds with everything he has stood and fought for in his years of public service. On the other hand, Lott’s remarks, even if cast in the most favorable light possible, reinforced his longstanding record as an opponent of racial justice and equality. There is a double standard. Absolutely. By consistently positioning themselves against Civil Rights over the past forty years, Republicans have earned it and then some.

Today’s post can be found at http://magicalwords.net, the group blog on the business and craft of writing fantasy that I maintain with fellow authors Faith Hunter, Misty Massey, and C. E. Murphy. The post is called “Writing Your Book, part I: Getting Started” and it’s about getting started on that book you’ve been thinking about writing. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and by the way, there’s a new contest up on my website: http://www.DavidBCoe.com. Visit the site and maybe you’ll win a signed book!

So I should be finishing the book tomorrow.  I stopped just short of 89,000 words today; I thought the book would come in around 90,000.  I have one more scene to write — I’m on the last page of the script.  I could have finished today, but I want to get this closing just right, and after writing about 22 pages today, I needed a glass of shiraz and some rest.

The book was officially due on Monday, but I took some time off for the holidays while we had family in town, and that set me back a bit.  As it is, I’ll finish tomorrow, revise Sunday and part of Monday, and have it in by end of business Monday or first thing Tuesday.  One week late.  Really not too bad given the timetable I was given.

“How did it come out?” you ask.  That’s an excellent question.  I have no idea.  I’ll let you know after I’ve read it through.

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