Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama Makes The Media Bitter

"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

I've been watching The Media use this quote to try to turn Obama into the "Elitist" who is condescending, out of touch with America and unelectable. It (The Media) is trying to do the same thing to Obama as it did with Howard Dean and his yelp back in the 2000 race. Only this time it's not even really using the sound-byte so much as paraphrasing and saying over and over again the mantra "elite." I'm not who should supposedly feel offended by these remarks, but neither is the Media, and it seems to think this is the worst thing anyone has ever said and that it is going to destroy him. I disagree and think it may have sounded bad but makes good points. Oh, and my equally sound prediction is that it will not destroy him.


I think Obama should not shy away from these words. I would have included more people than rural folk when mentioning bitterness. All Americans should taste at least a bit of bitterness. Every American should lament the loss of freedoms and laws and the general ethos that make America what it is supposed to be. America is a great country, undoubtedly, but it shines much less than it should these days and at times takes on characteristics completely contrary to its ideals. When other politicians claim that Americans are not bitter but proud they present a false dualism. One can be proud of the wonders that make America great while at the same time lament the eroding of this greatness. A person can have pride in a flag or national anthem, but pride in a country that affords freedom, equality, opportunity and voices to all seems like pride better placed.

Small towns, job loss and lack of new jobs, promises made and not kept by government:

The media mostly ignored this part. Factories in small towns close. Small business can't keep up with Walmart. Ethanol production creates a new market and more jobs. The internet creates opportunities for people to make a living no matter where they are. Military recruitment takes many young people out of rural America where they might otherwise add to the unemployment rate. Economics are complicated. I'm guessing that many rural Americans feel that there is a lack of good jobs available to them and that might be upsetting after a few years or decades.

Clinging to their...:

Rural states are often Red states. The idea here is that people in red states often vote Republican despite the fact that Republicans have done little or nothing to better their lives. It is perhaps elitist to point out that sentiments have been used by politicians to get votes out, but only to those who have not noticed that many election ballots have amendments aimed at or supposedly threatening their way of life. When ballots have amendments about same-sex marriage the assumption is that conservatives will come out to vote against the gays, and while they're there they may vote for Republican candidates. It seems to work. When people think the government is going to try to take away their guns, the assumption is that they will go vote to keep the government from doing so, and they may throw in a vote for the Republican candidate while they're at it. Again, it seems to work. When people believe that the atheists are trying to ban their religion it is assumed that they will go out to vote in favor of prayer in school and they may check the box for Republican while they're at it. Again, it gets the vote out. Etc. Etc. Etc. Obama may be pointing this out, but he certainly didn't put these items on the ballots.

These issues may well be important to people in rural America. There is a way of life and timelessness that is admirable in many small towns, and these issues feed on the fear that it could all disappear someday. I think Obama was pointing out the fact that these feelings are used in a manipulative way by politicians who may preserve some parts of rural America, but only by doing nothing to better the lives of those who live there.

(creative commons photo attributed to Flickr user tonx)

Another Fun Look At Classical Music

Zurich Chamber Orchestra Commercial

(via laboratory 101)

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Super Rich Are So Awesome

The economy may be making life difficult for many Americans these days, but the heroic super rich are steadfastly spending and showing the growing mass of poor how wealthy they are. From the NY Times:

Buyers this year have already closed on 71 Manhattan apartments that each cost more than $10 million, compared with 17 apartments in that price range during all of 2007. Last week, a New York art dealer paid a record $1.6 million for an Edward Weston photograph at Sotheby’s. And the GoldBar, a downtown lounge, reports that bankers continue to order $3,000 bottles of Rémy Martin Louis XIII Cognac.

“When times get tough, the smart spend money,” said David Monn, an event planner who is organizing a black-tie party on May 10 for dignitaries and recent purchasers of apartments at the Plaza Hotel; the average price there was $7 million. “Short of our country going on food stamps, I don’t think we’re doing anything differently.”

Even if the economy is of food stamps these magnificent people won't cave in. Why would they? A person with $100,000 in savings might get hurt in the economic downturn and lose 90% of his puny worth and be poor and laughable with his food stamps and rented apartment and used clothing. What a loser! Ha ha ha! Stupid poor loser. Many of the mighty super rich can happily lose 90% of their wealth and still be multi-millionaires. That's why they're so awesome. They can wreck their $600,000 car when the economy is down and laugh at the homeless guy pinned under the fender. These things don't faze them. They're super! And rich! And when and if the economy starts to get better, the stupid poor will only have a few quarters to invest! They'll never get rich like that! Stupid jerks! Meanwhile, the super rich will simply tell their investment manager to buy some more buildings and companies and stuff. Doing such great things with such ease! Magnificent! The super rich don't even have to invest wisely. A million here, ten there, hundred there. The economy has to get better at some point and when it does they will do what they do best: Get super richer. Bravo, super rich. Go out and buy yourself something nice. You deserve it.

(creative commons photo attributed to Flickr user Tracy O)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

But If I Take The Garbage Out I Might Die And Then You Would Feel Bad

Woohoo! I've probably avoided serious health issues by avoiding taking the garbage out. I've had many housemates who have gotten angry at my inability to get near a sack of rotting leftovers without dry-heaving or getting sick, but it may just be my body's way of self-preservation. From the Guardian:

German scientists are warning householders of the health dangers posed by storing organic waste, saying exposure to it, particularly to the moulds that develop as the material decays, can cause skin problems and even breathing difficulties... "Even just opening the lid of a bin containing organic waste can cause mould spores to be stirred up which, if breathed in, can damage the lungs," said Morr. "The more spores breathed in, the worse the repercussions on one's health can be."

So next time someone tries to get you to take the garbage out tell him or her that he or she is a horrible person for trying to kill you. If that doesn't work, just get near the garbage can and throw up on it and run away crying. Works like a charm.

(creative commons photo attributed to Flickr user Peter Kaminski)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

This Is Not Good

Pictured: Terrorist Tree-hugger Evildoer Getaway Vehicle

The Bush Administration has been redefining terrorism in order to expand its powers to spy on and prosecute people who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Activities such as setting fire to an unoccupied SUV are being treated as terrorist acts and the kids blamed for them are being sentenced as terrorists and being locked up for 20 years of more.

From the Guardian (UK):

According to many, the US is now in the middle of a "Green Scare" akin to the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, when senator Joseph McCarthy launched his infamous communist witch-hunt. Environmental and animal rights activists are being targeted, it is believed, not because they are dangerous, but because in the wake of 9/11 the government needs scapegoats beyond Muslims, and people - often young, white and middle-class - with defined ideologies who target corporate America are easy and attractive game...

...Civil liberty groups expect the green scare to worsen. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act now raises any attacks against the profits of any animal-based industry to the level of terrorism, and a little-known bill making its way through US Congress with virtually no debate is expected to lead to a new crackdown on any dissident activity, under the guise of fighting terrorism.

Apparently, there have been some criminal acts perpetrated by people who identify themselves as environmentalists and see their acts of sabotage and arson as politically motivated. These people are committing crimes and should be arrested and be forced to do community service to better the community they have affected. Wash some Hummers or something. Vandalism is vandalism even if the vandal thinks he's saving the earth from the mean capitalist. There seems, however, to be no justification whatsoever in calling these people terrorists, and a real danger that groups like, say, the Save The Hairless Cat Foundation (if it exists) will be spied on more than the rest of us because they have an environmental concern. Or that donating to the World Wildlife Foundation will put you on a no-fly list.

Here's where it really gets to be too much Not Good, though. Because there are so few crimes committed by these evildoers,or any evildoers for that matter, the government seems to be considering criminalizing thoughts, because, you know, anyone who's not with them is against them:

The Orwellian-sounding Violent Radicalisation and Home-Grown Terrorism Prevention Act, passed by an overwhelming 400-6 vote last month, will soon be considered by the Senate. Rather than seeking to criminalise "extremist" acts, it targets beliefs, or what many people are calling "thoughtcrimes".

"It proposes initiatives to intercede before radicalised individuals turn violent. It could herald far more intrusive surveillance techniques, without warrants, and has the potential to criminalise ideas and not actions. It could mean penalties for a stance rather than a criminal act," the American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Constitutional Rights have jointly said.

Ok. What? Doesn't every teenager see him or herself as a "radicalized individual?" That's why they wear those awesome clothes and get things pierced. And how much more intrusive can they get than listening to telephone calls and reading e-mails? What kind of science fiction crap have they invented now that will read a person's mind? And if they have this kind of technology why are they torturing people? Or does it just predict future crimes? The government has been getting advice from science fiction writers, but this, terrifyingly, is reality.

(creative commons photo attributed to Flickr user Marshall Astor - Food Pornographer)

I'm Back! Did You Miss Me? I Brought You A Video! That's How Much I Missed You! Aw!

So I saw this movie whilst on vacation (night out with a level 4 alcoholic made following night movie night), and I only rented it because I was amazed by its existence and it was free. After 10 minutes of laughter I became upset that it kept going. Then i looked at a cat sitting on the floor for a good long while, but even the voices alone caused psychic pain. There were other people in the room trying desperately to do anything but look at this thing and yet the horrible sounds confused us all and we found ourselves looking in the general direction of and dimly following the plot of this thing as it seemed to play on in front of us forever. Then this song came on and we sang along.