From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
New Orleanians flee as Gustav intensifies to Category 5
Many residents weren't waiting for a formal evacuation call. Cars packed with clothes, boxes and pet carriers drove north among heavy traffic on Interstate 55, a major route out of the city. Gas stations around the city hummed. And nursing homes and hospitals began sending patients farther inland.
There were other signs of people racheting up their plans to leave. ATMs were running out of cash. Long lines were sprouting up at gas stations as motorists filled up their cars. Cases of bottled water were selling briskly at convenience stores.
Police and firefighters were set to go street-to-street with bullhorns over the weekend to help direct people where to go. Unlike Hurricane Katrina, there will be no shelter of last resort in the Superdome. The doors there will be locked.
Those among New Orleans' estimated 310,000 to 340,000 residents who ignore orders to leave accept "all responsibility for themselves and their loved ones," the city's emergency preparedness director, Jerry Sneed, has warned.
Yeah, so I've been here for a year and I'm finally getting that welcome wagon I've been wondering about. This is a ritual for NOLA, and I guess the fact that I'm leaving soon means that my residency is official. Hopefully, nothing bad will happen while I'm gone. The tough thing, though, will be going to Atlanta with my two and my ex Becky's three cats in the back seat. That'll be fun. And by "fun" I mean "not fun."
Yeah, that's right, Atlanta, to shelter with our old pal Jim--Matt, I'll try to email as soon as I get the chance; actually, if everything goes well, I hope not to be there long, but I'll try to say "hi" if I can.
So no posting for a few days. Roll the Real Art theme song. Fade lights. Close curtain.
Gustav nearing Cuba last night.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Posted by Ron at 5:00 PM
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Iowa college president steps down after beer photo
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
An Iowa community college president resigned less than a week after a photo was published appearing to show him pouring beer into a young woman's mouth.
The school's board of trustees on Thursday unanimously approved Robert Paxton's resignation. It also approved a severance package that officials said was valued at about $400,000.
Mark Crimmins, the president of the board, said although the incident happened in Paxton's private life, "it reflected poorly on the college."
Click here for the rest.
Okay, so I can understand why the board of trustees would think such a picture might make their school appear to be less serious, or studious, or academically rigorous, whatever, but did this guy's contract even imply anything about drinking beer with young women being a bad idea? Can a college president drink beer at all without sanction? What's over the line? Is a pint of ale at the local tweed pub okay, but Hooter's out of the question? I mean, didn't Hillary Clinton participate in some sort of vodka drinking contest in the Ukraine a couple of years ago? Did that make her less "presidential"?
Really, it seems to me that the gargantuan severance package they're giving Paxton is a straight up admission that the board knows his forced resignation is an exercise in absurdity. I guess they think it's worth it. Very weird. I'm troubled by this--it reminds me of the recent rash of similar sackings of officials across the country for various legal and normal sexual infractions. The suggestion is that it doesn't matter how good you are at your job: what matters is that you look morally correct while doing it, and "morally correct" is usually defined way too late for it to be helpful for the people being fired.
I mean, what good is a "private life," anyway, under these circumstances?
Posted by Ron at 11:56 PM
High school debate makes a welcome return to 15
Houston Independent School District campuses.
From the Houston Chronicle editorial board:
(Mayor) White, a debater when he was in high school in San Antonio, said the experience was transformative and changed his life. He and his teammates, White said, learned how to teach themselves, and all went on to successful careers in business or the professions.
The data confirm White's experience. Debating improves students' grades and test scores. Unlike many HISD students, virtually all debaters graduate from high school, and almost all go to college.
Debaters learn how to research and analyze public policy. They learn diction, logic and public speaking. In the process, their writing skills and academic confidence rise.
Dr. Philip Zelikow, a former debater from Houston who was executive director of the 911 Commission, states that debate led him to discover that there were many approaches to solving public problems. Perhaps the most valuable lesson from having to be prepared to take either side of the argument, he says, was learning how the other side views the issue.
Okay, so I didn't know shit about shit back in the day when I was a high school debater. I learned the style, the form, the rules, but it wasn't until much later, two or three years into college, several years after I had actually debated in any formal setting, that I actually learned argumentation. But in the long run, that didn't matter at all. High school debate got me ready for the concept of argumentation so that when I later encountered dense academic essays in university classes, I was able to recognize them for what they are--I was able to follow the arguments, to understand them, to create supporting or counter arguments in the papers I wrote about my readings.
Debate also got me interested, heavily interested, in the importance of civic affairs. By forcing myself to understand what I was debating, I came to realize that politics and economics weren't for guys in suits in Washington: politics and economics are for everybody, especially for people who feel like they don't get it, or who are bored to tears by it all.
All it takes is a little engagement with the issues, and, boom, it's yours for the taking.
Frankly, I owe my high school debate experience a great deal of any intellect I have today. It ought to be required for all students, whether they like it or not, starting in kindergarten, all thirteen years through public school. Debate is essential training for American citizenship. Without a basic understanding of it, we're dim witted slaves.
So, then, what does the fact that most Americans have absolutely no personal experience with formal debate tell you? Yeah, most Americans are dim witted slaves.
Posted by Ron at 2:25 AM
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Louisiana gears up for Gustav as it makes landfall in Haiti
From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Very warm sea surface temperatures and favorable upper-level winds are fueling Gustav's growth, Roberts said.
Gustav is forecast to turn more towards the west northwest and west over the next few days, and should be in the south central Gulf by Sunday morning.
Several computer models show the storm tracking northwestward across the Gulf towards the mouth of the Mississippi River after that, and strengthening to a Category 4 hurricane.
But there are some signs that there will be weak steering currents greeting Gustav when it enters the Gulf, he said. At the moment, the storm is being steered by a southwestern extension of a subtropical high pressure system sitting over the Bahamas and Florida, while a lower pressure "weakness" extending from the Mississippi valley into the central Gulf seems to be drawing the storm forward.
"In terms of the dynamical models, the spread is rather large," Roberts said. "We have models showing motions into the Bay of Campeche to the west, all the way into the northeastern and eastern Gulf.
This is fucking nerve wracking.
Gustav probably won't hit the Big Easy, but since Katrina, and for me since I moved here a little over a year ago, people in New Orleans get a bit uneasy this time of year when the Atlantic Ocean rolls tropical depressions into the Gulf of Mexico like bowling balls. On the one hand, this is all part of the city's charm: I drank beers after work with locals earlier tonight, all of us fully aware that death and destruction may be bearing down on our city this weekend. Kind of like partying at the gates of Mordor. Indeed, the Crescent City's above ground cemeteries, full of white tombs and monuments to the departed, along with the overall sense of sweet and ancient decay here, and the death imagery associated with the voodoo iconography conspicuous here and there around town, do nothing but reinforce the feeling. We live in the most fragile of American cities, and we all know it. We all celebrate it.
On the other hand, it sucks to know that come Saturday I might be parked in a massive traffic jam on I-10 West toward Houston. Like I said, this is nerve wracking.
Katrina. Gustav. What the fuck is it with all these fucking Russian hurricanes?
Posted by Ron at 3:24 AM
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
“You Can’t Be President: The Outrageous Barriers to Democracy in America”
From Democracy Now:
AMY GOODMAN: Rick MacArthur, you talk a lot about the fundraising and the historic precedent for the Obama fundraising machine. You go back further than Howard Dean and John McCain. Explain how it works.
RICK MacARTHUR: Well, the fundraising machine goes back—I mean, when they banned so-called soft money, the whole—when they banned the direct contributions of above a certain amount after the Watergate reforms of the ’70s, the two parties had to figure out new ways to raise money. But what they’ve done, by bundling and political action committees and so on and so forth and going to big business, is to arrange a system where it’s like something—it’s a term they use in business school. They talk about barriers to entry. In other words, a company sets up—if you want to go into competition against the dominant company in your sector, in your market, there are barriers to entry, and you have to analyze the barriers to entry. The barriers to entry to politics in the United States are—the principal one is that you cannot raise money on the level of an incumbent congressman or an incumbent politician. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party raise so much money now that you or I or somebody off the street who is serious about politics simply cannot enter the political process anymore.
Now, in the Democratic Party, this wasn’t as stark until the ’90s, when Bill Clinton really pioneered corporate fundraising on a level with the Republicans. He did this by, of course, supporting NAFTA and free trade agreements that made big American corporations happy—international financiers, commercial banks, investment banks and so on. And what Barack Obama has done is to copy the Clintons.
Click here to watch, read, or listen to the rest.
The rest of the conversation goes deeply into how Barack Obama is one of the great Democratic panderers to big business, and far more loyal to the political establishment than to the liberal supporters who believe in his "hope" and "change." But this bit excerpted above is worth noting in itself especially because it well illustrates that the Democrats are simply incapable of running a liberal for President. That is, the problem isn't with Obama, who is doing exactly what he needs to do to win the White House: rather, the problem is with the Democratic Party, and more generally with the entire political establishment, encompassing both parties.
American politics, at the electoral level, is no longer about ideas. It's about money, about raising vast sums of money, and spending it on marketing campaigns. Not political campaigns, marketing campaigns--political campaigns are about ideas; marketing campaigns are about brand names, about establishing "differences" between amazingly similar products like Coke and Pepsi, or McDonald's and Burger King, or McCain and Obama.
And these marketing campaigns are on a massive scale, every bit the same as Chevy and Ford, or any other massive corporate market fight. It's not for the people anymore, and when I say "people," I mean people like you and me, people who live in relative obscurity, people who worry about the bills. Politics isn't for us. It's for them. They need money, not votes, because money will eventually buy the votes via marketing anyway, and we don't have the kind of money they need, so we're essentially irrelevant to the entire process, both before and after election.
You can't be President, and neither can I. Tell that to your kids because it's the truth.
And as MacArthur observes in the interview, money is only one barrier keeping the American people from participating in electoral politics. The dual party system is another that comes instantly to mind, battling fiercely and sometimes illegally to lock third party and independent candidates out of debates and off the ballots. It's just awful.
I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it many times again: the American experiment in democracy is over. And it's been over for some years now.
Posted by Ron at 2:54 AM
Monday, August 25, 2008
New Krugman from the New York Times:
Accentuate the Negative
Over the past month or so many Democrats have had the sick feeling that once again their candidate brought a knife to a gunfight. Barack Obama’s campaign, inexplicably, was unprepared for the inevitable Republican attack on the candidate’s character. By the middle of last week, Mr. Obama’s once formidable lead, both in national polls and in electoral college projections based on state-level polls, had virtually evaporated.
Mr. Obama’s waning advantage brought back bad memories of the 2004 campaign, whose key lesson was that there are no limits to the form G.O.P. character attacks can take.
It was predictable, then, that Mr. Obama would find himself on the receiving end of an all-out character attack, much of it nonsensical: he’s un-American because he vacations in Hawaii, where his grandmother lives? It was also predictable that responding by repeating what a great guy the candidate is, or denouncing the attacks as unfair, would be ineffective.
So now the Obama campaign has responded with its own character attack.
Is it fair to attack Mr. McCain for having too many houses?
Shit yeah, it's fair to attack McCain for having too many houses. It's also fair to attack him for his role in the Keating Five scandal of the 80s. It's also fair to attack him as an out of control war hawk who sees the military as the quickest route between two points. It's fair to attack him for his famous temper. It's fair to attack him for being too old for the job. It's fair to attack him for being an out-of-touch technophobe who doesn't understand or use the internet. It's fair to attack him for dumping his first wife and trading up to a trophy with a bajillion bucks.
Really, it's fair to attack McCain for being a stupid sleazy piece of shit political and personal opportunist who might conceivably be an even worse disaster for our nation than the chimp occupying the Oval Office right now. And when I say "attack," I mean mercilessly, without regard for truth, and constantly.
As Krugman observes in his essay, this is how the game is played today. I don't approve at all, but Democrats taking the high road is a sure path to defeat. The GOP started this shit, but anyone can play, and Obama would be a fool to pretend he's above it all. Because he's not. Republican motherfuckers upended both Gore and Kerry, and almost threw Clinton out of office. There is no "above it all." It's kill or be killed. Obama needs to slash McCain's throat, the sooner the better.
Krugman says that Obama should only go negative enough "so that voters see this as a race between a Democrat and a Republican," which would easily give to contest to the former. I disagree. Recent history has shown us that this is all out mudslinging war. Brand names will not be enough. Obama needs to utterly destroy his opponent.
I say the only limit here is overplaying the asshole hand. Be an asshole, but not too much of one. That ought to do it.
Kill, kill, kill.
Posted by Ron at 1:09 AM
Sunday, August 24, 2008
QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODES
Means "Who Polices the Police?"
From the Houston Chronicle:
Deputy resigns after incident at Harris County jail site
In a release issued about 5 p.m., officials said 38-year-old deputy Duane Peterson resigned today.
Video of the alleged assault against an inmate was submitted to the Inspector General of the Sheriff's Department on Aug. 12 and Peterson was immediately removed from inmate contact status, authorities said.
From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Another NOPD officer fired over incident at Treme community center
The high-profile misconduct case had already resulted in the firing of Officer Ashley Terry, who police say violated multiple department standards by exhibiting her firearm and screaming profanities at a woman in the carpool line at the center. Terry was off-duty and picking up her 7-year-old nephew from the center.
Following an administrative hearing Friday morning, Superintendent Warren Riley fired Officer David Ellis, a five-year veteran who went to the community center to investigate the 911 call stemming from Terry's outburst, according to a NOPD news release. He spoke only with Terry before finding the complaints about her conduct "unfounded."
The internal investigation into Ellis' conduct found he violated several departmental regulations, including those related to courtesy, truthfulness, neglect of duty and failing to maintain standards.
From Democracy Now:
Maryland State Police Spied on Peace, Anti-Death Penalty Groups
The American Civil Liberties Union released documents Thursday showing that undercover officers from the Maryland State Police spied on peace groups and anti-death penalty protesters for over a year in 2005 and 2006. The police summaries and intelligence logs reveal that covert agents infiltrated groups like the antiwar Baltimore Pledge of Resistance, the Baltimore Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and the Committee to Save Vernon Evans, a death row prisoner. We speak with antiwar activist Max Obuszewski and with journalist Dave Zirin. Both were the target of surveillance.
Again from the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
N.O. officer to face sex count
Prosecutors plan to file a sexual assault charge against a New Orleans police officer next week after the officer declined a plea deal, said Robert White, chief of the New Orleans district attorney's public corruption unit.
The officer, Carlos Peralta, reneged during a July 11 Criminal District Court hearing on an agreement to plead guilty to a lesser crime, second-degree battery, White said Friday.
From WKYC TV in Cleveland:
Oakwood police officer indicted for felonious assault of a driver
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office announced that Oakwood police officer Craig Ali was indicted today on one count of felonious assault during a May 23 incident on Interstate 271 in Oakwood.
On May 23, Ali was working off-duty for a construction site on I-271 near the Broadway Avenue exit ramp in Oakwood.
From the New York Times:
Officer Indicted for Injuring Yonkers Woman
A YONKERS police officer has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of violating the civil rights of a 44-year-old woman by slamming her to the ground during an arrest last year when she tried to check on the condition of her niece after a bar fight. The woman suffered a broken jaw, a concussion and deep bruises across her face.
The incident and its aftermath received wide attention because the Westchester County district attorney’s office, despite a vivid videotape of the arrest, initially prosecuted the woman, Irma Marquez, not the police officer, Wayne Simoes. Ms. Marquez was acquitted by a state jury in May, and, based on the videotape and testimony from other police officers, the federal authorities filed a criminal complaint charging Officer Simoes with using unreasonable force. Janet DiFiore, the Westchester County district attorney, demoted the Yonkers bureau chief in her office who handled the state prosecution, saying in an interview that “he made a call on that case that was wrong and unacceptable.”
From the San Lorenzo Press Banner in California:
San Jose police officer jailed for two years
Judge Heather Morse considered sentencing Williams to four years in a state lockup, but a deal was brokered between the two sides in which Williams forfeited his right to appeal and accepted two years in prison without parole. He is required to register as a sex offender after serving his time.
"Especially for my family, we felt like it was the proper way to end it," the victim’s father said.
Williams’ sentencing on Monday, Aug. 18, came after he was convicted Aug. 6 on four felony counts of soliciting pornographic photos from a 16-year-old Scotts Valley High basketball player and two misdemeanor counts for having the images and destroying evidence.
Williams was taken from the courtroom Monday wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffs. He had a mild white scruff on his face.
"I do apologize for all the pain I’ve caused the (victim’s) family," said Williams, his only admission during the sentencing.
The victim’s father spoke from a prepared statement about how Williams had been a family friend and a fellow Christian whom he trusted.
"Kenny Williams was a wolf in sheep’s clothing," said the father. "Not one or two times, but five."
From KPHO TV in Phoenix:
Ex-Officer Faces Sentencing In Beating
A police investigation revealed Benjamin Scarborough, 26, an off-duty Phoenix police officer, had punched and kicked the victim several times causing the man to lose consciousness, detectives said.
Several independent witnesses reported that Scarborough continued to hit Lake after he stopped defending himself, detectives said.
From the Indianapolis Star:
Cop hit with rape charge
An incident that led to an Indianapolis police officer being charged with rape Thursday began, prosecutors say, with a proposition.
"I'm going to give you an option," officer Anthony S. Smith reportedly told a woman with an outstanding misdemeanor warrant. "I can lock you up, but I really don't want to . . . or you can ride with me for an hour."
Marion County prosecutors filed charges of rape, criminal deviate conduct and other crimes, saying Smith later forced the 19-year-old woman to have sex with him or go to jail.
From WFMZ TV in Pennsylvania:
Bethlehem Cop Questioned in Alleged Police Brutality
An Allentown family is accusing a Bethlehem police officer of using excessive force against its son. Police records show Officer Joseph Ocasio arrested 21-year old Juan Carlos Martinez at Musikfest on August 6th.. for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Martinez's mother says Ocasio beat her son and injured him.
From the Dayton Daily News:
Dayton to pay $20,000 to victim of excessive force by police officer
Use of unjustified force against a women by a Dayton police officer during a 2006 traffic stop will cost the city $20,000. The Dayton City Commission this week agreed to settle the claim with Dayton resident Sheileda Anthony.
"The incident was investigated. The officer was disciplined as a result of it. He no longer works for the department," Police Chief Richard Biehl said Friday, Aug. 15.
Former Dayton Police Officer Roger Kielbaso, who retired on a medical disability May 19, was suspended 20 days for using excessive force against Anthony. The officer also received an oral reprimand for using "indecent, profane or harsh language" during the stop.
Click here for the rest.
So I've been insisting for a while now that police misconduct happens always, all the time, everywhere, and I'm pretty sure it does. Okay, to be fair, I haven't looked too hard to find any real studies looking at actual numbers - actually, I don't know whether any academics or think tanks are even compiling data in this area - but basing my assertion on the sheer number and frequency of headlines, I think I've got a good argument. Again, to be fair, news coverage itself might be creating an appearance of cops-gone-wild, in a way similar to how the "if it bleeds, it leads" philosophy for local television news has tended to create an illusion that street crime is far worse than it actually is. But my gut instinct here is that whether this is news hysteria or not, each of these stories is real, and they're published every fucking day, which means that there is a fucking shitload of evil cops out there.
I mean, these eleven stories are all recent, within the last two weeks, discovered either during my casual news reading or from a couple of Google searches I did last night. Cops really are going wild. Everywhere. All the time. Always.
Why isn't this a story in itself?
Posted by Ron at 12:26 AM
Friday, August 22, 2008
COMMERCIAL ROCK MUSIC ISN'T QUITE DEAD YET
MGMT (previously known as The Management) is an American musical group based in Brooklyn, New York consisting of Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden. Originally with New York-based Cantora Records, they signed on with Columbia Records/Red Ink/Sony in 2006. On October 5, 2007, Spin.com named MGMT "Artist of the Day". On November 14, 2007 Rolling Stone pegged MGMT as a top 10 "Artist to Watch" in 2008. The band was recently named 9th in the BBC's Sound of 2008 top 10 poll.
They experimented with noise rock and electronica before settling on what David Marchese of Spin magazine calls "their current brand of shape-shifting psychedelic pop."
I caught an MGMT video last night on VH1 while I was channel surfing between commercials, or something like that, and it really blew me away. Proof positive that, while rock music is definitely sick and on its last legs, as a relevant mass culture genre at any rate, there's still some breath left in the now venerable pop culture music form.
I dug up the video, for their song "Electric Feel," on YouTube, but wouldn't you know it, embedding is disabled. So go check it out here. It reminds me of 1970s era Rolling Stones, my favorite version of the dinosaur Brit band, funky and New York hip, which makes sense because MGMT is from Brooklyn.
Here, check out some 70s Stones, "Emotional Rescue," which is the closest to what MGMT appears to be doing with "Electric Feel":
I'm still pissed at the Stones for what they did to the Verve, but at least they'll let you embed their fucking videos.
I wonder when rock will finally die.
Posted by Ron at 12:07 AM
Thursday, August 21, 2008
HOUSTON: SAME AS IT EVER WAS
From the Houston Chronicle:
Peering into Allen's Landing's murky history
It's a story worth mulling over as we approach the annual celebration of Houston's birthday, a date generally cited as Aug. 30, 1836 — the day a newspaper ad first touted the new city. That ad was, famously, a pack of lies.
The Allen brothers Augustus and John, a pair of New York-bred land speculators, declared their parcel of land an excellent place for ambitious settlers. "There is no place in Texas more healthy," they wrote, "having an abundance of excellent spring water, and enjoying the sea breeze in all its freshness."
The sea breeze?
The Allens proclaimed they'd held back this excellent land until they could offer it "with the advantage of capital and improvement."
That, too, was hooey. They'd bought the land only days before the ad first appeared and hadn't yet spent a dollar to develop it. There wasn't a single building on the 8,850 acres.
The ads ran in the United States and Europe. One showed a drawing of Houston: a pretty little lake, rolling hills and, off in the distance, blue mountains.
J.K. Allen, the outgoing brother, wasn't just a developer; he was a fast-moving political operator, too.
Click here for the rest.
Okay, I'm no architect, or urban planner, or civil engineer, or anything along those lines. Keep that in mind as you read a few of my impressions of my hometown after living for a year in the New Orleans area.
What if you wanted a city to be as much like a shopping mall as possible? Houston is what you'd get. The city was created by real estate developers to favor their interests, and continues to be owned and run by real estate developers. To favor their interests. That's probably the biggest reason it has no heart or soul.
Houston has no vibe, no culture. The only people who love Houston are necessarily from Houston. It has all the personality of a model home in a new suburban development. That's what H-Town is. A development. I mean, it feels weird even using such a nifty nickname as "H-Town." Where the fuck did that come from? Not from history because Houston really has no history--indeed, local developers just can't wait to demolish the city's past in order to erect new prefab condos and strip shopping centers. Not from street culture because Houston has no street culture--I mean, sure, there's a sort of street culture in certain neighborhoods, but it never breaks out of those neighborhoods to the rest of the city. Not from the city's art scene because most of its serious artists leave town as soon as they are able--the grafted store-bought arts scene, the Alley Theater, the Houston Ballet, the Houston Museum of Fine Art, all that shit was brought in by developers simply to enhance the city's image; what grass-roots arts scene actually exists suffers and dies year after year without any serious support from the powers-that-be.
The name "H-Town" is nothing more than a t-shirt slogan, probably created by advertising execs in New York, which is where the Bayou City recruits most of its creative class, existing only to suggest that Houston has a soul, when it is in fact not much more than a zombie controlled by banking interests.
If there is one real culturally unifying theme in Houston it is making money and fucking everybody who can't make money themselves. Houston is a city all about capitalism--of course, I understand that all cities are about capitalism, but almost always this mandate co-exists with some kind of organic civic vibe transcending cash.
You know, the real reason Houston flooded so badly during Tropical Storm Allison's intense rainfall back in 2001 was because developers weren't interested in providing enough runoff to properly drain the water. It cost too much and wasn't really necessary. For them. When the flood waters receded, the developers weren't hurting, either: this was a new opportunity to tear down old shit and build more strip malls.
So Houston is great for the well-to-do, but fucking lame for everybody else, and most of the people there don't know any better, so they love it, and call it "H-Town," and go to Texans games, and get into fights with anybody who rightly says that Houston sucks.
It is fitting, then, that the city began 170 years ago as an image-based business venture aimed at draining money from unsophisticated rubes: that's what it continues to be to this very day.
Happy birthday Houston.
Oh god, I'm going to get nailed so hard for writing this.
Posted by Ron at 1:28 AM
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
KILL THE LIBERALS!
Courtesy of This Modern World:
Click here to see lots of other "funny" right wing novelty products.
Okay. So imagine yourself sitting at a bar somewhere talking politics with a friend. It's a fun conversation. You're both liberals talking about, say, how stupid Bush is, and laughing about it. After a few minutes of this, a guy nearby jumps into the conversation and laughingly says "Well, I think it'd be real funny if I put a bullet into your brain! Hahahahahaha!"
Right. It's psychotic and way more than a bit creepy.
If we are to accept that such a statement really is an attempt at humor, what the fuck do you say in reply? You know, just to keep the witty banter going. "Well, I think you conservatives need to be rounded up and put into camps!" Yeah, yeah, I know: that's not funny. Besides, I actually like quite a few conservatives, love some of them, in fact. I mean, I think they're deluded, or stupid, or misguided, but not worthy of murder. For god's sake, they're fellow Americans! They need to be persuaded, not killed, not even in metaphoric jest, which is counterproductive in terms of persuasion, anyway, and, like I keep saying, not even funny.
What the fuck is up with all this "kill the liberals" shit?
I think it's pretty obvious. These aren't really jokes. Great numbers of American conservatives really do want to see great numbers of American liberals murdered. I mean, okay, I'm sure that most of them would never ever act upon this desire, but I wonder how many of them would object if the White House started rounding up Democrats and taking them to stadiums.
Once upon a time, conservatism was a respectable, important, and necessary American philosophical point of view, but it has allowed itself to be infected with a vile strain of what clearly amounts to Nazism: principled conservatives would do well to use this time of right-wing disarray to purge themselves of such bloodthirsty anti-American elements, pushing them outside the ideology's mainstream, and toward the far lunatic fringes where they belong.
Okay, now that I think of it, it might be funny if Ann Coulter was murdered.
"We need to execute people like John Walker
in order to physically intimidate liberals, by
making them realize that they can be killed too."
Just kidding. See? It's funny.
Posted by Ron at 12:36 AM
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
MAJORITY SUPPORTS ABORTION "UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES"
ENORMOUS MAJORITY SUPPORTS ABORTION "UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES"
From Pandagon courtesy of Eschaton:
I’m not a particular fan of the “legal under any circumstances” versus “legal only under certain circumstances” distinction, if only because I think most people can think up at least one circumstance where someone shouldn’t be allowed to get an abortion that would immediately push them into the more restrictive second group - most of them revolving around non-medical late-term abortions. But regardless, what we see above is that 82% of America supports abortion rights of some sort. Seventeen percent don’t.
Okay, that's good to hear. I've spent such a long time in areas where pro-lifers are very vocal, where young single pregnant girls are highly visible, that is, Baytown Texas for six years followed by four years in highly Catholic and Baptist South Louisiana, that I was kind of starting to forget that America really does support abortion rights.
Without going into much detail, which would obviously take up much more time than I'm willing to spend tonight, the bottom line for me on abortion is that outlawing it, or heavily restricting it, means that the government can control your innards, and that's bullshit. Beyond that, and more specifically concerning abortion itself, because of physical differences between males and females, women stand to be the most oppressed by illegalizing pregnancy termination: a woman cannot fully and equally participate in society unless she is able to choose the circumstances under which she does or does not give birth.
If you don't follow that line of reasoning, you're a retard, or a willful moron, and it would be pointless to attempt to explain it to you. However, if you do follow it and reject it anyway because you believe abortion is murder, that's something else, a principled and moral stance. It doesn't make you right, just not a retard or moron.
If you think abortion is murder for religious reasons, well okay, but I wonder why the hell anybody has to follow the principles of your religion. That is, nobody has to follow the principles of your religion. Unless they want to. But then, that's what the term "pro-choice" means: you don't have to have an abortion simply because it is legal to do so. If you think abortion is murder for more secular and philosophical reasons, like equating the cells known as embryos to a fully formed post-birth human being, which has a "right to life" outweighing an American's sovereign dominion over his or her own innards, well okay, but cells are quite clearly not human beings, so you've pretty much got the burden of proof in this argument. And I'm still waiting for some proof. And pictures of bloody fetuses or sonograms or recordings of fetal heartbeats don't make cells into people.
Anyway, as far as I can tell, the vast majority of abortion opposition is religious anyway, and it's not even really about abortion: it's about sex, stopping sex, stopping women from having sex. That is, I think, the main reason religious people are so freaked out over abortion is because it removes one of nature's great disincentives for sex--you might have to have an unwanted child if you have sex. It is no accident that virtually all religious abortion opponents are also opposed to birth control while supporting ineffective "abstinence based" sex education. I mean, if they were serious about reducing all these "murders," they'd try to make it easier, not harder, to avoid pregnancy. But no, these people want women to get pregnant if they have sex. As God's punishment, or something along those lines, which is just psychotic when you think about it for two seconds.
Yeah, "pro-life" is ultimately about keeping 'em barefoot and pregnant. And in the kitchen where they fucking belong. Opposing abortion is about opposing women.
Fortunately, most Americans, seemingly genetically endowed with a love of liberty, get that. In spite of decades of crazed rhetoric and straight-up distortions of reality. In spite of everything, there is still good reason to have hope for this nation. Americans, when you get right down to it, really are good people. We just seem to allow freaks and perverts to hold public office all too often.
Posted by Ron at 12:39 AM
Monday, August 18, 2008
MOYERS DIGS UP ANOTHER BRILLIANT RIGHT WING DISSIDENT
From PBS's Bill Moyers Journal:
BILL MOYERS: You intrigued me when you wrote that "The fundamental problem facing the country will remain stubbornly in place no matter who is elected in November." What's the fundamental problem you say is not going away no matter whether it's McCain or Obama?
ANDREW BACEVICH: What neither of these candidates will be able to, I think, accomplish is to persuade us to look ourselves in the mirror, to see the direction in which we are headed. And from my point of view, it's a direction towards ever greater debt and dependency.
BILL MOYERS: And you write that "What will not go away, is a yawning disparity between what Americans expect, and what they're willing or able to pay." Explore that a little bit.
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think one of the ways we avoid confronting our refusal to balance the books is to rely increasingly on the projection of American military power around the world to try to maintain this dysfunctional system, or set of arrangements that have evolved over the last 30 or 40 years.
But, it's not the American people who are deploying around the world. It is a very specific subset of our people, this professional army. We like to call it an all-volunteer force-
BILL MOYERS: Right.
ANDREW BACEVICH: -but the truth is, it's a professional army, and when we think about where we send that army, it's really an imperial army. I mean, if as Americans, we could simply step back a little bit, and contemplate the significance of the fact that Americans today are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ask ourselves, how did it come to be that organizing places like Iraq and Afghanistan should have come to seem to be critical to the well-being of the United States of America.
There was a time, seventy, eighty, a hundred years ago, that we Americans sat here in the western hemisphere, and puzzled over why British imperialists went to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. We viewed that sort of imperial adventurism with disdain. But, it's really become part of what we do. Unless a President could ask fundamental questions about our posture in the world, it becomes impossible then, for any American President to engage the American people in some sort of a conversation about how and whether or not to change the way we live.
Click here to watch part one of the interview, part two here, or read a transcript of the entire interview here.
I swear, Moyers is really beginning to make me wonder what the differences between liberal and conservative in this country really are. Or rather, Moyers is doing a remarkable job of clearing out some real common ground between the left and the right, none of that pathetic shit Congress spews out called "bipartisanship."
This guy, Bracevich, is definitely a right winger, coming at our national fine mess from a decidedly conservative, capitalist, and pro-military perspective. He's a Vietnam vet, West Point grad, and professor of international relations at Boston University. And he plays the part well: really, his persona reminds me of some Aggies I've known over the years, not the beer-swilling redneck yuck-yuck "t.u." type, but more along the lines of the quiet, rational, Texas A&M engineering types I've known, conservative, but really fucking smart.
And what he says amazes me. Not because I've never heard any of it before, but because I've never heard it coming out of a conservative's mouth: at some point in the 1960s the US stopped being a production society and started being a consumer society; the entire political establishment has galvanized itself around the concept, and its inherent instability in terms of personal and public debt, as well as the military force needed to keep the whole scheme going, has created doom for America.
And almost nobody is able to admit it.
Right, I know. This is a true blue conservative saying this. You've absolutely got to watch this interview. It's almost a solid hour, but well worth the time. You'll be riveted almost from the first minute.
Go check it out.
Posted by Ron at 2:36 AM
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Man gets 2 years in prison for killing cat
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
A Los Angeles man who killed his girlfriend's cat, telling her to "follow the blood trail to find Tweety," has been sentenced to two years in prison.
When I was a teenager, I would occasionally babysit for a thirtysomething couple I knew from the Southern Baptist church I attended. They were fairly nice people, well respected, good Christians. That's why I was utterly shocked the day that the husband tried to run down some stray cats on his street while he was taking me home. "Yeah, they're from a vacant house, a real nuisance," he said, explaining his actions while he drove on without hitting any of his targets.
I hadn't even become a cat person yet and I was totally horrified.
I mean, sure, stray cats are an enormous problem, but playing target practice with them as though we were in Death Race 2000 can be described only as cruel and inhumane. That's why we have animal control agencies. What the fuck was up with this "good Christian" man? Sick bastard. I don't think I worked for them too many times after that. I don't know what became of the strays he wanted to squash.
Anyway, while I find the notion of prison to be so utterly problematic that I think I can reasonably disqualify myself from jury duty for pretty much any criminal trial, I really like the message this sentence in Los Angeles sends out: wantonly killing somebody's pet is such an harsh and immoral act that society believes there ought to be severe consequences for doing so.
Really, I think mandating a couple of years of community service in an animal shelter or as a PETA activist would have been a better punishment, but this is very much a step in the right direction.
Posted by Ron at 3:29 AM
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
LOCAL GAY PRESS DIGS MY ACTING IN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
From Ambush Mag's Trodding the Boards section:
Certainly we have the actors for such classics. Ron Reeder’s Mayor was a smooth operator, pompous and a bit unctuous but well-knowing what he has to do to protect his community even at the expense of his own brother. As Dr. Stockmann, Donald Lewis was at times a bit overly emphatic but such impulsiveness suits the character. His Stockmann was not so much an innocent as one not aware of the implications of his actions. And if he was slightly pompous himself, it well-showed how he and his brother the mayor were cut from the same cloth.
As challenging as it may be to fill all roles with actors of the caliber of Reeder, Lewis and Hooper, if Cripple Creek wants to rise above mere community theater, it owes it to itself to be stricter in its casting criteria if it wants to fulfill the potential that it has shown.
Click here for the full article (it's a PDF document, so you'll have to scroll down to page 4 of 5).
Ya hear that? I've got caliber! That's right. Caliber!
Anyway, that last little bit was a dig at another actor in the show who I think is actually doing some good work, but if my caliber is going to come with with a backhand against a fellow thespian, I'll take it. And really, it's something of an unfair dig at the company, as far as talent goes: Cripple Creek is a low budget non-profit, and we're all working for virtually no pay. It ain't easy to get Brando and Olivier when all you're working for is ideology.
Actually, for me, right now, the ideology is well worth it. The review commends the company for selecting the script, remarking on how utterly timely it is in today's world despite being written over a century ago. It's easy to throw my self into the artistic abyss when I really believe in what I'm doing. And it's great fun hanging with other liberals: in the dressing room after tonight's performance, some of us got into an impromptu debate over the origins of capitalism, whether our founding fathers were capitalists, or simply proto-capitalist merchants.
My bet is that if the company keeps slugging away like it's been doing for two seasons now, it will eventually attract a larger and better casting pool simply because many actors want to do something socially responsible with their work--not too many opportunities for that in the professional theater.
Heh. I've got caliber. I've always done well with the gays.
Anyway, only two more performances left. Come and see what all the hoopla is about--check the above linked Cripple Creek site for details.
Posted by Ron at 11:56 PM
Cokie Roberts Draws Heated Reactions
From KGMB9 News Hawaii courtesy of Eschaton:
The latest is from ABC'S Cokie Roberts.
In "This Week with George Stephanopoulos", Roberts spoke about Obama's visit to the islands, saying "I know his grandmother lives in Hawai'i, and I know Hawai'i is a state. But it has the look of him going off to some sort of foreign, exotic place."
Roberts went on to say, "He should be in Myrtle Beach if he's going to take a vacation at this time."
The comments received a lot of backlash from Hawaii's representatives in Washington.
The entire left side of the blogosphere has been all over this since Sunday. I've stayed away from this kind of corporate news media bullshit lately mostly because it happens almost all the time, and I don't pay much attention to it anymore. But this is particularly outrageous and encapsulates everything that's wrong with the "liberal" media.
That is, in addition to feeding into the right-wing myth that Obama is some kind of effete elitist - there's your "liberal" media at work - it's also just plain wrong. I mean, Cokie even explains why it's wrong immediately before she says it: Obama has family roots in Hawaii, and Hawaii is a part of the United States! As if my own parents, who rose from the working class into the Houston bourgeois suburbs, were elitists themselves because of their two vacation trips to Hawaii.
Cokie Roberts is stupider than shit.
All these corporate media talking heads are just dumb as rocks. Proof positive, day in and day out on your TV set in the middle of your living room, that college degrees, high visibility, fame, wealth, and respect in absolutely no way guarantee any level of intelligence above, say, fungus or a lichen. Fuck, if Hawaii is an exotic and foreign land, then I guess New Orleans, where I live, is foreign and exotic, too. So is Porter, Texas, for that matter.
The best and quickest way to make some positive change in this country would be to permanently outlaw television.
Posted by Ron at 2:14 AM
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Most U.S. corporations avoid federal income taxes
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
Two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a new report from Congress.
The study by the Government Accountability Office, expected to be released today, said about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.
Collectively, the companies reported trillions of dollars in sales, according to GAO's estimate.
"It's shameful that so many corporations make big profits and pay nothing to support our country," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who asked for the GAO study with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Automatically, any discussion of who, exactly, ought to bear the main tax burden for the nation will necessarily get into the issue of what's best for the economy. That is, as the right wing always asserts, businesses should pay fewer taxes than individuals because businesses create jobs and drive the economy forward, creating more wealth for all--taxes hurt this economic engine. Typically, wingnuts want to end the discussion right there, without going into any mitigating issues, such as whether low corporate taxes actually help create new jobs here in the US that are actually worth a damn, or whether the so-called expanding pie really does mean more wealth for all.
Longtime Real Art readers already know what I think: corporations essentially pocket these massive tax breaks, helping only themselves, while continuing the now decades old drive to the bottom in terms of cheap wages, outsourcing jobs to the third world, destroying the middle class forever.
But put all that aside for a moment and consider this. Legally, corporations are considered "persons," with almost all rights that actual Americans have, including the freedom of speech, property ownership rights, and the right to sue. If corporations really are "people," then shouldn't they pay taxes like all the rest of us people?
Consider this, too. Corporations operating inside the United States use government services just like citizens do. They depend on the courts to arbitrate disputes with other corporations. They depend on the police and military to protect their investments. They use the public roads to transport their goods. And they make use of these services on a scale that literally dwarfs the usage of actual citizens--for instance, the vast majority of wear and tear on public roads and highways is caused by the trucking industry rather than your and my cars. Often, corporations freely use publicly owned property in ways that ordinary citizens cannot: media corporations use the airwaves; lumber and paper corporations use public lands for logging, and so do mining corporations, often blowing up mountains and laying waste to huge chunks of environment in strip mining operations; Big Pharma, which often blames its big prices on its big research and development budget, is often straight-up given new drug patents which were researched at public institutions funded by federal grants. All this shit is payed for by tax dollars.
In short, corporations take advantage of much much more tax money than real citizens do. They simply owe more. A whole lot more.
So why the fuck aren't they paying more?
Posted by Ron at 1:05 AM
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Georgia: A Reality Check for the Left
From the Booman Tribune courtesy of Eschaton:
I can hear the Left now laughing at Asmus and Holbrooke's audacity in accusing Russia of neo-imperial policies. Isn't this conflict taking place in Russia's sphere of influence? Hasn't the West been relentlessly provocative? Didn't Russia warn us about the eastward expansion of NATO, anti-missile defenses in the Czech Republic, and the independence of Kosovo?
Yes, yes they did. And it doesn't matter an iota to our bi-partisan foreign policy Establishment. This is power geopolitics at its rawest and it has major consequences for our strategic position in Central Asia and the Middle East. Did Dick Cheney say something alarmingly bellicose? Sure. But Cheney differs from Holbrooke only in tone. Russia is threatening more than the Bush/Cheney policy vis-a-vis Georgia. They are threatening eight years of Clinton foreign policy.
In the many years I have been writing this blog I have been a consistent critic of Clinton's foreign policy, especially in the Caucuses and as relates to NATO expansion. I made these points many times during the primaries. But there are two things you need to keep in mind. Just because there are legitimate criticisms of U.S. foreign policy does not mean that Russia is on the right side of history. But, more importantly, the foreign policy Establishment is united behind these policies and has invested in them over the course now of almost 20 years. There isn't a whole lot of room for debate over what should have been. We're here now. Like an aircraft carrier, you cannot turn around bipartisan U.S. foreign policy on a dime. This is not some uniquely neoconservative policy. This is U.S. policy.
Working to change that policy demands that we understand the policy as it is and as it has been. We need to understand the military justification of that policy (access to energy supplies to fuel our Naval Fleets and Air Force) as well as the economic justifications. And we should not kid ourselves that we will find Democratic allies in Congress or the Obama campaign that are going to argue that our policy has been all wrong all along. That will never happen.
Right. Our rhetorical support for Georgia, at least rhetorical for the moment, has very little to do with Big Bad Russia beating up on its poor little former satellite. I mean, sure, Russia is beating up on one of its much smaller and weaker former satellite republics, but the US foreign policy establishment, both liberal and conservative, doesn't give a shit about that at all. Rather, we support Georgia, and any and all other former Soviet Republics, because they oppose Russia, simply by their existence, and because there continues to be a lot of money to be made in such nations, money to be funneled to the US wealthy elite.
As the above excerpt observes, US foreign policy in the region has essentially been asking for this for a long time. Also, as the excerpt observes, none of this will be part of public discussion on the issue. I expect to hear a lot of "naked aggression" and "illegal invasion" talk from US leaders, and the usual bullshit about freedom and all that jazz.
A few observations:
1. The US can't really do anything militarily to help Georgia. We're too maxed out with our own "naked aggression" against Iraq and Afghanistan. We're a paper tiger now as far as conventional warfare goes.This invasion is awful, which goes without saying. Unfortunately, we can do nothing. We lost our window of opportunity over a decade ago. It will be fun, however, in a dark humor way, to watch the TV pundits and idiot politicians gnash their teeth while castigating the Russians for doing exactly what they approve of when America does it.
2. As far as unconventional warfare goes, the US must necessarily do nothing: the Russians continue to have a formidable nuclear arsenal, the ultimate deterrence.
3. Any and all American rhetoric criticizing the Russian invasion is pathetic. We do the same thing. Worse, the Russians are doing it in their own back yard; we're doing it half way around the globe, essentially wherever we feel like it.
4. When the Soviet Union fell, the US had an incredible opportunity to make good friends of the Russians by pumping in redirected post Cold War military funding to seed a proper market economy, and by sending in an armada of advisers to help create institutions and structures that would usher in social conditions that would allow democracy to flourish. Instead, we abandoned them to gangster capitalism and surrounded them through an ill-considered expansion of NATO. The Russians are right to tell us to go to hell.
Posted by Ron at 12:50 AM
Monday, August 11, 2008
Saturday, August 09, 2008
John Edwards admits to affair, denies fathering child
From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:
Nine years ago, John Edwards had this to say about Bill Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky affair: "I think this president has shown a remarkable disrespect for his office, for the moral dimensions of leadership, for his friends, for his wife, for his precious daughter."
On Friday, after nearly a year of denials, Edwards confessed he'd committed his own "serious error in judgment" as he was preparing to run for president, an affair in 2006 that he said he admitted to his wife but had hoped to keep from the public.
"In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic," Edwards said in trying to explain his behavior.
Six months ago, Edwards was among 10 presidential contenders asked about marital fidelity.
"It's fundamental to how you judge people," Edwards told CBS News.
You know, I really like John Edwards. He was the only electable Democrat pushing progressive issues during the primaries, which to his credit forced Obama and Clinton to start talking about poverty in ways they had not been doing previously. He seems like a nice guy, a Southern gentleman. And when I decided to post about this adultery story, my plan was just to leave a two word comment: "So what?"
Then I read the story and realized how he had gone down the Joseph Lieberman road, morally posturing during the Clinton impeachment over what was, and continues to be, the former President's personal business. I'm also very disturbed by how he had the self-righteous audacity to assert that marital fidelity is "fundamental to how you judge people." Realize that we live in a country where a majority of all married men will cheat on their spouses at some point during their married lives, which means that, according to Edwards, a majority of American men are morally unfit to be President.
Look, I'm not going to say it's all good and fine to cheat on your wife--at the very least such an action causes great pain to the spouse and can completely upend family stability, which is awful, especially when children are part of the equation. But life is very complicated and confusing. For all of us. The heart is irrational and fickle and passionate and cold. We're all human beings. And that's why this issue, adultery, marital fidelity, whatever you want to call it, is personal business. That means it's none of your or my business. This is for families to sort out by themselves, or with help if they ask for it. But certainly not on the front pages of newspapers.
It definitely has nothing to with being President. I mean, serial cheater Bill Clinton did a relatively good job in the White House compared to the faithful husband we have in the Oval Office now. There's just no connection. None at all.
All those goddamned assholes, including Edwards, who got up and publicly blasted Clinton for essentially being a human being, kicking him while he was down, were the worst sort of political opportunists, scoring risk-free political points by making hay out of nothing. And it is now clear that many, if not most, of these assholes were lying about it anyway. Bunch of fucking hypocrite pigs.
Once, just once, when one of these scandals breaks, I'd love to hear a politician get up and say something like "Okay, it's not cool to cheat on your wife, but this really is none of our business. So let's just shut the hell up about it all and offer our prayers and best wishes to Latest Political Adulterer and get back to work on something substantial, like the economy, or the war, you know, actual issues."
What I really want to see is a politician unashamedly admit to being a swinger. Yeah, I know, it'll never happen.
Posted by Ron at 11:26 PM
Friday, August 08, 2008
DRILL! DRILL! DRILL!
New Krugman. From the New York Times:
What I mean, instead, is that know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: “Real men don’t think things through.”
In the case of oil, this takes the form of pretending that more drilling would produce fast relief at the gas pump. In fact, earlier this week Republicans in Congress actually claimed credit for the recent fall in oil prices: “The market is responding to the fact that we are here talking,” said Representative John Shadegg.
What about the experts at the Department of Energy who say that it would take years before offshore drilling would yield any oil at all, and that even then the effect on prices at the pump would be “insignificant”? Presumably they’re just a bunch of wimps, probably Democrats. And the Democrats, as Representative Michele Bachmann assures us, “want Americans to move to the urban core, live in tenements, take light rail to their government jobs.”
Is this political pitch too dumb to succeed? Don’t count on it.
Sad to say, the current drill-and-burn campaign is getting some political traction. According to one recent poll, 69 percent of Americans now favor expanded offshore drilling — and 51 percent of them believe that removing restrictions on drilling would reduce gas prices within a year.
Yeah, that last bit there, that a large majority of the country believes we can drill our way out of this mess, has been particularly distressing to me these last few days. I mean, Krugman puts it all in terms of how the GOP is yanking people's chains, but if I understand correctly, even Obama has jumped on the drilling bandwagon. And he fucking knows better.
It's not like the problems with drilling are any big secret, either. I've heard from several major news sources, television news sources like CNN and ABC, that economists are pretty much united in their assertion that new drilling won't produce any actual oil for at least a decade, and even then the amount produced will be negligible in terms of affecting global oil prices. This is common knowledge if you watch the news--you don't even have to read, for god's sake! All that new drilling will do is enrich the multi-national oil corporations, which explains why the GOP would be pushing it; after all, they've been pushing it for some years now, anyway.
But why the fuck are average Americans buying such major bullshit? I mean, who are these Americans, anyway? Nobody I know is talking about how important it is to drill our way out of the gas crisis--that probably has more to do with the fact that most of the people in my daily life at the moment are largely apolitical, without much of an opinion on gas prices other than that they suck. Actually, now that I think about it, that's probably most of the problem right there: most Americans are apolitical, and wildly uninformed about, well, everything. Ask somebody who hates paying four bucks a gallon if drilling for more oil is a good idea, he'll probably say "shit yeah!" Divorced from any real context, without knowledge that the entire economics profession nixes the idea as having any benefit, I'd probably say the same thing myself. Not enough oil? Go out and fucking get us some more! Right the fuck now!
The Republicans have been taking advantage of America's ignorance and apolitical spirit for many years - think about the notion of cutting taxes magically resulting in increased tax revenue because of tax cutting's magic stimulus effect - but this kind of bullshit appears to be new for Democrats. I suppose President McChange sees that nothing succeeds like success, and like the earlier Democrat Good Vibe POTUS, Elvis Clinton, is now cribbing plays from the GOP book.
That is, when Obama, in discussing soaring gas prices, says we need more domestic drilling, he's lying. The revolution of "change" is already over.
Posted by Ron at 12:22 AM
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Polls show 'Nader effect' waning this time around
From the Houston Chronicle:
After all, some Democrats still blame Nader for costing Democrat Al Gore the election in 2000. But a recent spate of polls show Nader's strength as as spoiler on the wane.
"I suspect he will garner a fraction of 1 percent of the vote and be irrelevant to the outcome," said Thomas Mann, a political scholar at the Democratic-leaning Brookings Institution in Washington.
As in past campaigns, Nader is hoping to exert pressure from the left and raise awareness and support for the issues he is passionate about: the defense budget, corporate control of government, social justice and more.
Although he insists his support is stronger than the polls suggest, Nader continues to downplay his prospects for helping McCain by hurting Obama.
"The word spoiler is a contemptuous word of political bigotry, as if small candidates are second-class citizens," Nader said.
Part of what's holding Nader back in the polls this year, experts say, is Democratic enthusiasm for Obama.
Nader's past assertion that there is basically no difference between the two parties has lost currency, and personal economic concerns among voters are trumping Nader's message of corporate accountability and social justice.
On the one hand this is good because nobody will be able to blame Nader supporters for Obama losing, if it comes to that, which it most likely won't. On the other hand, it's a drag because the Democrats won't get the metaphoric bloody nose they received in 2000 and 2004.
You can count votes however you want, but I'm still very much of the opinion that the Democrats lost the last two presidential races all by themselves. That is, if the party had had its shit together, preaching some real progressive messages, or rather, any messages at all, messages that weren't tied to polling or "triangulation," which is the co-opting of GOP positions as "new" Democratic positions, they'd have won both times. I mean, Gore couldn't even win his own state for chrissakes, and Kerry was just a fucking buffoon. Nobody to blame but Democrats and their supporters, which included me in '04, who blessed the whole shit house with their votes.
But noooooooo. It was all Nader's fault.
You know, it's funny. Why not blame the Republicans? They actually won the damned thing. Why is it that anybody left-of-center who doesn't play the Democrat game has to be castigated for fucking up the game? I mean, I don't like their game. Why must I play?
Fucking Democrats are bigger fascists than the GOP. At least Republicans are honest fascists.
At any rate, once President Obama has been in the Oval Office for a few months, and the nation starts to realize that all his "change" rhetoric isn't up to the task of unscrambling the shattered mess his GOP predecessors have left behind, that Mr. Audacity of Hope is really just another corporate-friendly, pro-war, good vibes conservative Bill Clinton type, Nader's clout may see an upswing. It's a shame: the Democrats really do need another bloody nose right about now because they're making the same mistake they've been making for a couple of decades, buying into uplifting rhetoric which masks a right wing agenda.
I think Dead Kennedys' masterpiece "California Uber Alles" well illustrates my point:
Here are they lyrics:
I am Governor Jerry Brown
My aura smiles
And never frowns
Soon I will be president...
Carter Power will soon go away
I will be Fuhrer one day
I will command all of you
Your kids will meditate in school
Your kids will meditate in school!
California Uber Alles
California Uber Alles
Uber Alles California
Uber Alles California
Zen fascists will control you
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face
Close your eyes, can't happen here
Big Bro' on white horse is near
The hippies won't come back you say
Mellow out or you will pay
Mellow out or you will pay!
Now it is 1984
Knock-knock at your front door
It's the suede/denim secret police
They have come for your uncool niece
Come quietly to the camp
You'd look nice as a drawstring lamp
Don't you worry, it's only a shower
For your clothes here's a pretty flower.
DIE on organic poison gas
Serpent's egg's already hatched
You will croak, you little clown
When you mess with President Brown
When you mess with President Brown
Yeah, that's right. Jerry Brown is a fucking Nazi!
Posted by Ron at 12:17 AM