Cheap Talk (Link Round-up 2/07 and 2/14)

Cheap Talk are things I read and wanted to blog in response to, but did not have the time, energy, or content to justify it. I missed last week because of a holiday, so you’re going to get a double dose…some not quite as immediate as they were two weeks ago.

In Which I (Respectfully) Disagree with the Mary Sue

The Mary Sue is often very on point with their coverage of whitewashing. They are going to beat the Ghost in the Shell horse until it is deader than dead, and I love them all the more for it. But I think casting Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa in the Power Rangers movie coming out next year is fine. In their own words, “By the numbers, the current line-up of Rangers for the film is actually more diverse than the original TV show’s first season, albeit only slightly.”

I’m not really comfortable saying once a role goes to a minority, there should be no space cast a white person. Banks is a fabulous choice for this for the same reason she was great as Effie Trinkett. And there is nothing inherently Latina/Filipina/Japanese about Repulsa’s story line. By rebooting the show, it left them free to shuffle the cast around, so as long as the show continues towards diverse casting, I can’t take exception to casting Banks. The issue is not any single role, but the fact that there are not many roles open to actors of color. Given that casting has made a lot of room for people of color so far, this really feels like exactly the exception that proves the rule. Further, the problem is that the studio still hasn’t made enough room—something Power Rangers is not fixing on its own.

Azealia Banks Endorsed Donald Trump

I have nothing to add to her argument.

Flip a Coin

A good take on the coin-toss debacle in Iowa. We’re looking at tiny margins here, even if you think the coin toss is wrong. To add, any particular outcome in a binomial distribution is unlikely. The most likely outcome from 12 tosses, a perfect split, is only 23%, which is obviously more likely than six in a row. Stats is weird, okay?

Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright

My first thought with Steinem’s silly comments about women and Sanders: “She’s still alive?” I share this to be snarky, but the thought was earnest. Second Wave Feminism is starting to feel antiquated and backwards. I genuinely believe that what she is describing was a problem when she was organizing, but among liberal women those days are long passed. Introducing her as “noted living fossil” taps into some sexism about aging women, but otherwise I might approve. Also, the rank transmisogyny in her Bill Maher interview was rank.

Albright’s comments were a little more nuanced. They seem to be more aimed at the women attacking Clinton on sexist grounds. I think the debate over which candidate is more feminist is one of the few places that Sanders and Clinton supporters can say that there is not much difference not covered elsewhere. Clinton will be more focused on the issue; Sanders will address important economic intersections more vigorously. Clinton has a better shot at getting what she wants; Sanders wants more aggressive things. (c.f., Planned Parenthood endorsement debate.) Sanders is on record agreeing with Albright’s sentiment, telling his supporters to cut the sexist crap out. Because we have two feminists running and it is glorious.

Missing Barack Obama

David Brooks at The New York Times is often accused of being a Democrat in disguise, but I think that is misguided. His editorial about missing Obama is, I think, on point. Barack Obama, even if you think his policy has been misguided, has been an upstanding president acting in good faith. This is what “loyal opposition” looks like. I feel Brooks is often wrong, but I feel we’re having the same conversation when I read him. When I watch a Trump rally, I feel I’m watching a transmission from an alternative universe.


For sheer fun, read this Vox piece about Sovereign Citizens. They are wierder than you thought. They actually file documents at the post office sign in blood.

The Crime Bill Mess

One of Clinton’s bigger problems is that her husband has a progressive record from the 90s. Black lawmakers and community leaders had a complicated relationship with the crime bill. It was not yet clear that crime was in decline and not long after the peak in the 80s. Crime really was a serious threat to black communities, and the Clintons offered an imperfect bill that it was hoped would be a net help. Others were more prescient, seeing increased policing and harsher sentences as going the direction it did.

Oh, and Sanders voted for it.

There is something a little ham-fisted, then, about The Nation piece that rakes Hilary Clinton over the coals for her husband’s policy with no acknowledgement of the 20/20 hindsight standard it is pushing. No one really comes out well here. Sanders and Clinton both were on record with what is clearly a mistake. The CBC made a bad deal, but was also pretty honest they didn’t think it was great. The crime panic among black leadership in the 80s and 90s looks both really naive in retrospect and reflects genuine fear.

John Oliver Maintains He is a Comedian

Totally expected, but I feel like we’re talking talking at crossed purposes here. He is a comedian and not a journalist. But he’s doing a kind of comedic journalism? Like, at some point you have enough fact-checking and truth-bearing standards to be let into the club, maybe with an asterisk. Oliver is there.


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