January in Rome


January in Rome–January Jones that is.  She has always had that Grace Kelly look. Oprah’s magazine even took advantage of this for a photo spread on how to get the Grace Kelly look (example above).


This was even more apparent than usual in this week’s episode of Mad Men in which Don and Betty Draper went off to Rome. Who would have guessed that Betty Draper speaks Italian?


There was a notable contrast in the episode between Betty Draper traveling in Rome and her usual life as a housewife–but she still looks far more like Grace Kelly than Donna Reed even at home.


I think January Jones was fortunate to get the role of Betty Draper in the 1960’s. While there’s no question that she looks remarkable in real life as above, Hollywood has a tremendous number of  beautiful aspiring actresses. There is the possibility she might have been lost among them normally, but few, if any, could pull off the Grace Kelly look like she does.

Don Draper and Women


At the end of last season of Mad Men, Don Draper showed remorse as to the disrespect he showed his wife Betty on the many ocassions in which he cheated on her. This season began with Don going out of town on a business trip and spending the night with the stewardess at the head of the table.

We often root for characters on television who exhibit conduct we normally wouldn’t condone. Even Don Draper is a boy scout compared to J.R. Ewing or Tony Soprano. Nurse Jackie even extends such behavior to a female lead. Katie Baker considers why women love Don Draper:

Why are we so wild for Draper? By any measure, the character’s a cad. He constantly cheats on his wife. He skips town for weeks and won’t write or call. He doesn’t talk much, and anesthetizes any feelings with copious amounts of booze. He’s an enigma, a locked box of a man who resists, maddeningly, easy explanation. And yet he excites an attraction among women—particularly ones my age, women in their late ’20s and ’30s who were born after the era that Mad Men portrays—that seems unmatched by any leading man on television today, with the possible exception of Lost‘s con artist, Saywer (another strapping scoundrel with a deeply troubled soul). We describe our obsession in words that, like the show itself, are somewhat retro. “He is a straight-up man. He makes me feel like a woman via the TV.” “He’s a throwback to a time when men were men. “It’s the thickness of his body.” “Shoulders to cry on and a jaw that causes women to swoon.”

A man’s man. A virile man. A masculine man. Strong terms. And ones that would make our postmodern gender-studies professors blush. After all, we’re the generation of women who grew up beating the boys in math class, reading Judith Butler (by choice or by force), celebrating “Grrl” power. Traditional male-female roles were going out the window while we were still toddlers. And maybe that’s why we feel a little guilty when we stop to admit to ourselves why Draper excites us. Because we’re not supposed to be using those terms anymore to describe our desires. Those words threaten a backsliding—they hint at some deep, unspoken turbulence; that, as if by saying we want a “real man,” we threaten to erase all the gains our mothers made in terms of equality in the workplace and the home. After all, we don’t believe in that evolutionary “me Tarzan, you Jane” nonsense anymore. We’re supposed to want men who are sensitive and respectful; men who emote and help around the house, and talk openly about their feelings. And we do want these things. Don’t we? So then why are we fantasizing about Draper rather than Jim from The Office?

“Would I want to marry him?” one acquaintance—an executive assistant at a high-end financial firm, and the dictionary definition of “independent”—asked rhetorically. “No. But he has that whole ‘strap a sword to me, I’ll cut down men and then ravish you’ thing.” We have to clarify this matter, you see, lest men misunderstand us (or, worse, lest we misunderstand ourselves). So we lay it out very clearly: we don’t want to wed Don Draper. We know madness that way lies. We see how Betty Draper is drowning in loneliness, one more beautiful woman trapped in her suburban prison, desperately trying to pull devotion out of Don. We see how she’s had to resort to silent fury to make him come around again. And we’re cynical about this next season, for Betty’s sake—sure, Don wrote her a letter saying he can’t live without her. Sure, she let him back in the house. But a baby’s on the way, and nothing says ball and chain like a newborn. And men like Don Draper don’t change their spots. Already in this season’s first episode, he’s undressing a stewardess. My mother’s generation—who had to live with such men, whose hearts were broken by such men, and whose careers were stymied by such men—don’t seem to have much interest in Don Draper. They know all too well the downside of a man’s man. And they made sure as hell to raise us differently.

Conservatives and Liberals Agree on Significance of Sarah Palin

Last week I noted that the conservative publication Human Events named Sarah Palin the conservative of the year. Today Crooks & Liars announces that Palin has been chosen as Wingnut of the Year. While one obviously sees the award as going to someone they have a favorable view of, and the other is awarding it based upon an unfavorable opinion, they do agree on Palin’s significance. Like her or dislike her, Sarah Palin deserves both awards.

Palin was the conservative who received by far the most publicity this year. This is an unfortunate fact for the conservative movement. If conservatives in general are separated based upon rationality versus being a wingnut, Palin also deserves this more than any other conservative this year.

While there are vastly different types of views lumped together under the conservative label, Palin represents conservatism of the worst type. She lacks any understanding of civil liberties as guaranteed by the Constitution, as well as any respect for individual liberty. Instead her views are heavily influenced by the religious right on social issues and by the neoconservatives on foreign policy.

Consistent with the social conservative roots of her political views, Palin promotes the anti-intellectualism which is now dominating the conservative movement, including a denial of evolution. Palin’s views are totally inconsistent with the libertarian ideas, as well as respect for intellectualism, which has often been seen in conservative thought in the past. Unfortunately some libertarians, clearly thinking with an organ other than their brains, ignore the authoritarianism of Palin’s views and consider her one of their own. If all it takes is a hot woman with a gun to get their support, they’d be better off drooling over January Jones (Betty Draper of Mad Men )after the first season episode entitled Shoot. Here are the choices:

Sarah Palin clearly deserves to be named Wingnut of the Year. The tragedy is that, while some conservatives do see through her, so many other conservatives see her as their new leader. Republican voters see Sarah Palin and fellow social conservative Mike Huckabee as their two preferred choices for 2012. Red State has announced a war against Republicans who have not supported Palin. This will make it much harder for the Republican Party and the conservative movement to move beyond the fringes.