John McCain's new general election television commercial clearly targets Barack Obama, who apparently the McCain campaign expects to be the Democratic nominee. It's very likely that he will, so, over the next couple of months, the campaign will begin a "hard-sell" on McCain's qualifications, and, more importantly, his "patriotism", and, will ramp up doubts on Obama's qualifications and "patriotism." Expect this spot to get heavy rotation throughout the remainder of the primary roster. It's free advertising, too, because the news channels are playing the spot nonstop.
For many voters, Obama is still an unknown quantity because of his relative newness to the national political scene. Despite all his speeches, many voters are still unsure what to make of him.
Add to this the backdrop of the whole Rev. Jeremiah Wright flap, and the questions "What does Obama think?" and "Where has he been?" probably raise more anxiety with more voters than would've been true a few weeks ago.
We know there've been questions, no matter how unfair, about Obama's patriotism, questions revived not just by Wright and his by now infamous imprecations against America but by Michelle Obama's foot-in-mouth statement about the success of her husband's campaign making her proud of her country as an adult for the first time.
There's so much more to this: The flag lapel bs, the Muslim and Pledge of Allegiance smear, nebulous connections to indicted Syrian and/or Iraqi financiers, the Rezko trial, black liberation theology, accusations of Iranian influence—first reported on Rod 2.0 in 2006—and of course the Kenyan name and "exotic heritage." Most of these issues have not been addressed on these pages, but, they have been well-cataloged elsewhere and will become ridiculously easy to adopt into the Republican narrative that Obama is "an alien, unsettling presence", in the words of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who says the attack machine will attempt to "Dukakisize" the Illinois senator.
The spot also suggests our nation needs an "American president" which is outraging the lefty e-telligentsia. "Could the implication be that Barack Obama is not quite American and that he is not interested in protecting our country?" asks David Corn at Mother Jones. "In other words, the half-black dude with a funny name can't protect her. ... If the Republican campaign is this vulgar and creepy seven months ahead of the election, expect much worse in the fall."
Yesterday, we mentioned the fact that several magazines are featuring all-black male fashion editorials in their current issues. One of those magazines is Paper, the New York City-based fashion-forward lifestyle bible. Barack Obama fans will be particularly thrilled because the editorial is entitled "Mr. President" and is dedicated to the fashion aesthetic of the Democratic presidential front runner.
Well-known fashion photographer Richard Phibbs lensed the project. Phibbs, of course, was responsible for those sculpted and muscled images of Nigerian model Kwame. Speaking of African models, the lead model in this editorial is Red NYC's Salieu Jalloh, seen above, who is from Sierra Leone and was last seen ripping the runway for Sean John in its all-black male fashion show. Below is Ibrahim Baaith, also with Red NYC.
The Obama fashion aesthetic—previously discussed on these pages and at The Huffington Post—certainly works to the candidate's advantage. The greys and muted colors convey a Kennedyesque earnestness, the open shirts are casual show confidence, at least in our opinion. The designers represented here are John Varvatos, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Michael Bastian. The models below, left to right, are Robert Joseph (Fusion), Sandy Oumar (Wilhelmina) and Ibrahim Baaith.
Cynics will probably dismiss the "Mr. President" fashion editorial as a gimmick, which would be typical, but that also demonstrates a failure to grasp at least some of the "meta" rationale for Obama's candidacy and/or presidency. If our country is going to have a black presidential nominee, or president, it opens a larger conversation on race. (The meta-conversation on Hillary Clinton's campaign and sexism, sadly, has yet to arrive.) Just like many boardrooms and executive offices, the fashion pages and runways are notoriously monochromatic. In the months to come, it's likely many companies will reevaluate their complexion of their executive offices, and more magazines and designers will hire more black models.
Earlier this week, a clever new HIV/AIDS prevention initiative debuted in New York City to target young gay and bisexual black and Latino men. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reports the government of Brazil is launching a similar program to target young "men who have sex with men" (MSM) aged 13 to 24 years old.
The initiative will use public service announcements on radio and television stations to promote condom use and deliver safer-sex messages nationwide. The campaign also will place posters with HIV/AIDS prevention messages in public areas, such as train stations and bus stops."
The Ministry of Health reports a disproportionate number of new HIV cases, an alarming 41 percent, "recorded in 2006 occurred among MSM in the 13-24 age group." Brazil has been aggressively pursuing testing and prevention programs and health officials report "a general downward trend in new cases." That's good news.
There is good news and bad news coming out of Chicago for gay fans of vintage R&B and disco music—and that definitely includes yours truly. The god news is that Black Ensemble Theater has just debuted "I Am Who I Am: The Story of Teddy Pendergrass," a new musical on the life of the legendary former lead singer of the iconic Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes who shot to superstardom as a solo artist. Pendergrass' live shows "were renowned for their theatrical sexuality" and at the height of career, he was paralyzed in a car accident in the early 1980s. The passenger, Tenika Watson, was relatively unhurt.
Tenika Watson "turned out to be a transsexual nightcb performer whose original name was John Watson" and "Pendergrass would only say that Watson was a casual acquaintance whom he was giving a ride home." (Hello, Eddie Murphy!) Pendergrass has never discussed the circumstances of the accident and snaps at Gregg Shapiro, a gay journalist with the LGBT weekly The Chicago Free Press:.
GS: Throughout your career, you have had songs that were associated with the disco scene, such as the solo track "If You Know Like I Know," and "Bad Luck," "The Love I Lost" and “Don’t Leave Me This Way” with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. Because of having success in the realm, I wondered if you were aware of a following in the gay community throughout your career.
TP: No. My music appeals to everybody. No, I don’t keep a running list of who listens and who doesn’t. That’s not my job.
It's unfortunate that Pendergrass cannot mention the impact of gay producers and/or fans on his career, or, even the larger influence of gays in R&B and disco. It's also unfortunate that he will not discuss certain "transsexual nightclub performers", but, the title of the musical speaks for itself. "I Am Who I Am" is one of the lead numbers from La Cage aux Folles which was a musical about—you guessed it—transsexual nightclub performers. The song was later remade by Gloria Gaynor into the gay anthem "I Am What I Am."
Since it's been a little dry around here lately, it's time to spice things up with the latest hotness. It would probably be safe to say photographer Rick Day is one of the world's more luckier men. The New York City-based photographer took these new images of model of the moment and Rod 2.0 Crush Object TMWendell Lissimore. Wendell—who is probably going to become the next black male supermodel—is represented by Red New York and was one of recently seen in British GQand the recent Sean John runway show that featured all black male
RedNYC is sockin' it to you with these new models and this "black is beautiful" branding. This month there are two new major magazine fashion editorials that feature all-male, all-black models, and, many are from Red. We'll scan those and and publish tomorrow.
Twenty-two percent (22%) of Democratic voters nationwide say that Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that an identical number—22%—say that Barack Obama should drop out.
A solid majority of Democrats, 62%, aren’t ready for either candidate to leave the race.
There's also a small portion of Democratic voters who say a pox on both of their houses: "Six percent (6%) of Democrats would like both Clinton and Obama to drop out of the race."
"Interestingly, Republicans are more eager to see Clinton drop out
rather than Obama. Forty-one percent (41%) of GOP voters say the former
First Lady should withdraw while just 24% say the same about the
Senator from Illinois. Among unaffiliated voters, 30% say Clinton
should drop out while 25% say the same about Obama."
· Tyra Banks looking to leaveAmerica's Next Top Model? "Banks is feuding with photo-shoot creative director Jay Manuel to such an extent that the two don't even speak. OK also reports that Banks barely hangs out with the contestants and shows up only on judging days."
· American Airlines cancels 300 flights to "perform maintenance checks on its fleet of MD-80 aircraft [and] might have to cancel additional flights Thursday.
· Survey: "87 percent of Americans believe in the concept of 'sin' and most say racism is considered a sin," explains Frank Lockwood at Bible Belt Blogger. "Republicans are more likely than Democrats to call racism a sin. Conservatives are more likely than liberals. And Southerners are more likely than Northerners to label racism as “sin.” Part of the reason for the gap? Republicans, conservatives and Southerners are more likely to believe in the concept of sin overall."
· Fox News debates the significance of Gov. Bill Richardson's new facial hair. One "Democratic" strategist says the New Mexico governor wants to feel more "macho" because "after Al Gore lost his election, he also grew a beard. And I think it has to do with being sort of macho and wanting to feel like a man after you've lost something."
· Three relief workers with the United Nations World Food Program are "killed by bandits in separate attacks over the past week in Sudan's war-stricken western Darfur. ... The attacks highlight the security dangers in Sudan, where the world's biggest humanitarian operation is trying to cope with the crisis in Darfur while aid agencies are trying to help the south rebuild after decades of civil war."
As if any additional proof were needed that global warming is not a vast left-wing conspiracy, here is an additional data point for the few remaining skeptics. A massive chunk of Antarctic ice—described as "about seven times the size of Manhattan"—suddenly collapses and puts "an even greater portion of glacial ice at risk."
Rare video footage and satellite imagery document the dramatic event. The disintegration of the 160-square-mile chunk in western Antarctica began on February 28. Formerly, this was the western edge of the Wilkins Ice Shelf and has been there for hundreds, possibly up to 1,500 years. Scientists say that over the past 50 years, the western Antarctic Peninsula "has experienced the biggest temperature increase on Earth, rising by 0.5 degree Celsius (0.9 degree Fahrenheit) per decade."