GWBush must think he's rich, because he's spending money like there's no tomorrow. This is old news, but now he's spending it on the Arts. We've come a ways since Piss Christ haven't we? On the other hand, maybe there is no tomorrow for the Bush Administration and their breaking the bank to make a phony issue for 2008. Whatever the grand plan, this is probably the biggest bargain for cheap political publicity in history, depending on how loud the paleos screech and progressives scratch their heads.
Any way you look at it, the NEA is getting more money.
President Bush will seek a big increase in the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, the largest single source of support for the arts in the United States, administration officials said on Wednesday.
The proposal is part of a turnaround for the agency, which was once fighting for its life, attacked by some Republicans as a threat to the nation's moral standards.
Laura Bush plans to announce the request on Thursday, in remarks intended to show the administration's commitment to the arts, aides said.
Administration officials, including White House budget experts, said that Mr. Bush would propose an increase of $15 million to $20 million for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. That would be the largest rise in two decades and far more than the most recent increases, about $500,000 for 2003 and $5 million for this year.
The agency has a budget of $121 million this year, 31 percent lower than its peak of $176 million in 1992. After Republicans gained control of Congress in 1995, they cut the agency's budget to slightly less than $100 million, and the budget was essentially flat for five years.
In an e-mail message inviting arts advocates to a news briefing with Mrs. Bush, Dana Gioia, the poet who is chairman of the endowment, says, "You will be present for an important day in N.E.A. history."
Mr. Gioia (pronounced JOY-uh) has tried to move beyond the culture wars that swirled around the agency for years. He has nurtured support among influential members of Congress, including conservative Republicans like Representatives Charles H. Taylor and Sue Myrick of North Carolina. He has held workshops around the country to explain how local arts organizations can apply for assistance.
Believe. Receive. Explanation. Presence. Belief.
These are words I constantly misspell. I need to find a system that allows me not to look as stupid as these mistakes make me seem. So, Mr. CIA agent there's your formula if you want to forge me.
In reading Volokh it occured to me that the best way to defeat any capitalist enterprise is by ignoring it. This is in synergy with the chink in Wal-Mart's armor. The English idiom 'paying attention' is perfectly suited for the essence of profitability. If you look, you pay.
Buying slaves to free them doesn't work. To disable a slave economy, slaves must be freed, not bought.
My own family has its curse associated with American slavery. On my mother's side we are light, bright and damned near white, passing paper bag and ruler tests since antiquity. Louisiana records show us as 'Free People of Color' and it is for that reason, never having been slaves, I was able to track my family tree back 7 generations. Although I cannot know for sure, the curse didn't appear out of nowhere, so I believe it to be true - it being the fact that somewhere some ancestor of mine owned slaves, although it's clear we didn't retain any real estate. This leads me to believe we were engaged in the common practice of liberation through purchase. Having no soil to till, Louisiana petty bourgeois of color purchased relatives and strangers from the fields and put them to work in houses and kitchens. The law in Louisiana was once a slave, always a slave. They couldn't buy their own freedom. If it weren't for the invalidation of sales, slave traders could have devised contracts to make ending slavery as profitable as slavery itself.
Terence Moore has penned a thought-provoking essay on the declining state of American manhood. He does an excellent job of jabbing these males we know to be less than men, and while I think he overdoes Kipling just a bit (surely there are real men in Tahiti), he paints memorable portraits of the failing male. I think they are more alike than Moore might think.
"Black people need to...."
This is how to turn me off in four words. It's also how to make a buck if you're cute, black and have an advanced degree. Ladies and gentlemen I introduce to you the next African-American who is not a sociologist or political scientist who gets to bloviate about sociology and politics: Debra Dickerson.
Sooner or later, I'm going to have to read her new book 'The End of Blackness' if only because I have been writing essays similarly title on a regular basis every five years or so since 1983. Of course I was never so presumtuous in my claims. Instead I wrote 'The End of My Blackness', which is probably what Dickerson should have called her book.
One of the things that makes blackness a permanent part of America is precisely the slight of hand that Dickerson and her publishers are pulling off. It is not much different than the trickery that produces cameramen and pressfolk whenever Jesse Jackson clears his throat. If you can get a controversial Negro to spill the beans on race in any way that translates to the mainstream, and audience will materialize. There must be admonition for the masses of blackfolk, some fundamental basic thing they have wrong that the author has learned through the hard knock life of crossing racial boundaries. You know the formula. I await the 20 minutes she gets on Bill Maher's show when she faces off with John McWhorter. Somebody get me access to the gods of the TV Guide so I can set my VCR. That way I don't have to read the book.
Can you feel the hateration in my verbs, the jealousy? It's all anybody black wants to do - set the record straight for the nons who don't get it. And yet it is a self-perpetuating trap. The more you talk to blackfolks and whitefolks separately, the more need there are for explanation books.
What annoys me most about this uppercrusty chitlin circuit is that there are good black writers who own their corner and don't try to behave as if the contradictions of their life stories is an indictment of America's blacks or whites. It's not that they transcend race or any such hippie fantasy, they simply accept themselves, their lives and their little shard of the black monolith. We seem to be stuck with a nest of Negroes who make best-sellers out of their racial grief and that is supposed to be a perscription on what 'black people need to...'
I submit to you four such good authors:
Pinckney especially resonates with me, and everyone who ever read Paul Beatty said they felt the need to call me on the phone because they thought they were reading my own biography. Or something like that, both were written several years back. What is my point?
My point is simply that it's nice to be in the pundit business. Lots of us want it, otherwise we wouldn't blog. But autobiography is not social science nor political science. I hope 'The End of Blackness' is not trying to be.
All that said, I genuinely anticipate the arrival of commentary on the Dickerson book. You can never have too many black authors.
OK these are the last weeks when we start dealing with the last days in time - that is the Pre-Passion-of-the-Christ days. Mel Gibson is about to make a huge amount of hot air pass over the lips of Americans when his new film comes our way at the end of February.
I got a missive from Paul Harvey (yeah I'm on his extended mailing list, somehow) about how great a film this is. He apparently saw a preview in the company of a nodule of Washington DC Hill Creatures, and these pols left the theatre weeping. If that's the case, then we're in for interesting times.
I can't wait.
Few things have become as exasperating as the continuing back and forth between the explainers and the complainers over the issue of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Yet it's remarkable to see how few people are talking about the masses Iraqi weapons have already destroyed. I don't understand what it is that activists of the Left have forgotten since Pinochet, but they have surely evaded the facts of Saddam Hussein's Genocide. Yes I said it. Genocide.
Instead of spending all of their attention on the failure of people who were looking for weapons, why aren't American humanitarians looking for people? The answer is a simple excuse which is the key to a moral evasion of significant dimensions: 'Bush Lied'.
I've been saying for almost a year now that the primary reason we were right in going to Iraq was to liberate the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime. Those Americans who consider themselves profoundly offended that GWBush has broken faith with them are now faced with the fact the WMD hunt was an honest effort and that our tactical information simply wasn't good enough. But they have broken faith with the Iraqis by their opposition to the destruction of the Baathists. It is something we owed them, not only because of our prior failure but because our forward commitment to justice.
Many choose to remain in denial. These are the new Holocaust Deniers.
OK here's the deal. Democrats are going to be lockstep and fired up. All the flakes are going to get kicked to the curb, and very soon, within 6 weeks, basically after California votes, there's going to be swift and decisive unanimity. The theme is beat Bush no matter what and put all your eggs into one basket.
I think it's going to be Kerry or Edwards and in being consistent with what I've been saying all along, I hope it's Kerry although I think I'd be about as happy with Clark. Still, I have the feeling that Clark would piss off Wall Street. I don't know why but that's my feeling.
A Kerry Edwards ticket would be unstoppable as far as the Democratic party is concerned. So that's my prediction, based on the presumption that there are some Democrats whose heads are not completely anal-embedded. You heard it here first.
You know Kraft. They're the macaroni and cheese people. And your kids know them as the cheese and macaroni people, because it's the cheesiest. Why do you know this? You know this because the smart people at Kraft spent a fortune on advertising for you to know this. And now you know. But you probably didn't know that Kraft is going to spend a lot more money to try to get you to know something else.
Kraft isn't alone in its struggles in the food business. American consumers' increased health concerns have put the entire packaged food industry under severe pressure to change quickly. Worries about the artery clogger ``trans fat,'' rising obesity and the trend toward low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets have hurt sales of cookies and some other packaged foods.
``The growing importance of health and wellness has altered buying patterns to a degree I have not seen before in the food industry,'' Kraft CEO Roger Deromedi told analysts in New York. ``Low-carb diets like Atkins and South Beach, the focus on trans fat, concerns about obesity and increased demand for organic and natural products are requiring a shift in how we market and what we market.''
But Kraft also has hurt itself through overpricing, new-product fizzles and a failure to recognize sooner the ``fundamental shift'' Deromedi says has occurred with consumers and retailers, who now put a higher priority than ever before on price and value.
So if you are one of the many hundreds of oddballs that hate Wal-Mart, I wonder if you have any Kraft Macaroni & Cheese on your shelves. Why? Because you bought it because of advertising. It costs more than the bargain brand, and it's still the same damned powdered cheese. But your folly of eating corporate cheese has now cost 6,000 people their jobs. Oops wait. That's not it exactly..
It's the people who have stopped eating corporate cheese that have cost these people their jobs. Gotcha!
There's really no way out of this. We're all culpable somehow. We've consumed whatever it was that made Kraft bet that it could meet the payroll, and keep operating the factories for these many years. But those days are gone.
In order for the rest of the employees at Kraft to survive the death of the high-carb diet, Kraft is going to have to spend millions to erase the images of crayon drawn cows jumping over the moon from the 'kids' love of Cheese and Macaroni. Paying attention costs.
F8 sings constantly. The other day we were skating vert ramps on Tony Hawk Underground and she was singing Nas' 'The World is Yours'. As kids usually do, she misinterpreted the lyric of the chorus. Instead of "it's mine, it's mine, it's mine" was saying "smile, smile, smile - whose world is this this? It's yours".
It's a two way street.
I have a special affection for three men who most profoundly affected my desire to be a writer. I associate them all with urbane wit and a lot of good things in a world gone stupid. They are Joe Frank, Henry Jaglom and Spaulding Gray.
Of the three, Gray is the one I considered least likely to commit suicide. Yet it stands to reason that he may have done just that. Nobody has heard from him in over two weeks and folks fear that he has gone off swimming to that big Cambodia in the sky.
It was Swimming to Cambodia, but after 'The Killing Fields', which alerted me to this astounding man. He was having the conversations in public of the sort I have with myself, the sly allusions, the jumping from subject to subject, the right word at the right time. For me, Gray defined what narrative could be and why storytelling will always be superior to journalism - why it has lasted allthe centuries. Gray is why I put myself into all of my writing, why the first person is important.
Now he may be taking us all into his tragedy, but who could tell the story?
I am about 27 hours into Star Wars, Knights of the Old Republic and it occurs to me that the epic novel is back. Except it's not a novel, but a video game.
It seems almost disrespectful to call this massive interactive tale a video game. I realized that once I finally managed to capture the Ebon Hawk from Davik and Calo Nord when Talis was being destroyed. I flew through the atmosphere, fought off a dozen smaller spacecraft, and just like Han Solo's Millenium Falcon I punched into hyperspace.
It wasn't until I started playing this particular game (and I have played one other Star Wars game before, finding it tedious and unusually difficult) that I realized how much Lucas has made of his galaxy far far away. I knew there were many series of books written and I knew that many Star Wars fan[atic]s had been very disappointed in recent films that I thought were pretty good. I thought all of that was playing off the simplistic themes of the first (middle) trilogy of films. But KOR shows that this galaxy is at least as well thought out as that of the Star Trek series.
After having watched the bonus material for the making of Episode One, I concluded that Lucas was a self-important monomaniac who only had one idea in his life that he was milking forever. Now I'm not so sure. Now I see him more like Linus Torvalds, as the facilitator of a garden where 1000 flowers are blooming.
The Star Wars Galaxy is massive, and hundreds of creative people are populating its planets, pushing and pulling its Force and making a lot of fun and adventure for us. More power to them. Now excuse me, I have some more Wookiees to liberate.
If I were a filmmaker, I'd do this political skit.
Clerk: Good afternoon sir. My name is Rokesh, how may I help you today?
Customer: Oh, hi Rakesh, I'm just looking at these dress shirts here.
Clerk: Excuse me that's Rokesh.
Clerk: Rokesh is my name, not Rakesh. Rakesh is an Indian name.
Customer: I..I'm sorry. Heh, bad pronouciation. So Rokesh, which shirts would you recommend?
Clerk: Those that you are looking at for $35 are very popular..
Customer: ..but you would recommend those behind the counter which cost more.
Clerk: You are very perceptive sir. These fine shirts behind me are of the highest quality American linen.
Customer: And these out here?
Customer: Hmm. They look almost identical. I can't really tell the difference.
Clerk: Allow me to explain. The American shirt is made by English speaking Americans who were born and raised in this country and whose parents were citizens. They are union workers who get full benefits including premium & catastrophic health care, vision & dental flex care, 401k, 529 contribution matching, profit sharing, tuition reimbursement, stock options, free day care, 4 weeks paid vacation, paid medical leave, pregnancy leave for both father and mother and 6 week paid sabbatical after 5 years of employment. They work in buildings that meet stringent environmental standards, get discount passes for public transportation and they have a company-sponsored bowling league.
Somebody needs to be slapped about the head and face over the treatment that fellow Bear Flag Leaguer Rob got.
The solution to this kind of abuse happens to be having a big swinging balls attorneys. I don't trust the ethics of robo-employees. Not anything against them personally, but what they feel empowered to do within the strictures of their employment mandate. It's a fundamental kind of thing certain employees who are not employed to use professional judgement find as a risk of their own employment - aka selling ones soul to the mindless bureacracy. Doubtless none of those weenies had to ever sign a non-disclosure agreement, they're not that independent.
Somehow as my own business grows, I'm going to try and find a way that I can contribute to a pool, as with health care, that gets me the legal representation of the big ball swinging type. I want a letterhead from an attorney's office that sends a real sphincter puckering chill to those who would cross me. Lawyers with blood-dripping fangs is what I want.
Now you understand why I'm a part of the problem. I should just be able to slap the shit out of people and be done with it. Too much respect for non-violence, I guess.
Norm Geras has posted the results of his top movie surveys. This is the part where I criticize the rest of the world for not seeing things as I do. But it's probably a better bet for me to use it to get some DVDs for the collection.
What's more interesting to me is investigating his tabulation methodology. What tools did he use? How often is he willing to do some of this kind of stuff, which is a non-trivial exercise given that he had to do a lot, if not all, the data entry by hand?
It has long been of interest to me to put some of the technology I work with on the net for free so people can do this kind of analysis like the pros. Finally in the blogosphere I have found a set of people wonky enough to care. Thanks for the inspiration, Norm. Now can you mail me a copy of that spreadsheet?
The Godless Capitalist, during a debate on Wal-Mart, has raised a very interesting statistical point:
The primary reason Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the United States is that the United States is a world leader in an odd category -- the percentage of infants who die on their birthday. In any given year in the United States anywhere from 30-40 percent of infants die before they are even a day old.
Why? Because the United States also easily has the most intensive system of emergency intervention to keep low birth weight and premature infants alive in the world. The United States is, for example, one of only a handful countries that keeps detailed statistics on early fetal mortality -- the survival rate of infants who are born as early as the 20th week of gestation.
How does this skew the statistics? Because in the United States if an infant is born weighing only 400 grams and not breathing, a doctor will likely spend lot of time and money trying to revive that infant. If the infant does not survive -- and the mortality rate for such infants is in excess of 50 percent -- that sequence of events will be recorded as a live birth and then a death.
In many countries, however, (including many European countries) such severe medical intervention would not be attempted and, moreover, regardless of whether or not it was, this would be recorded as a fetal death rather than a live birth. That unfortunate infant would never show up in infant mortality statistics.
I did a lot of reading as a kid, but I also did a lot of rejection of reading material, some of it for good reason, some out of laziness. But I just happened across this reading list and I am surprised to see that these books are being offered so late.
I noticed a few things in particular. I read Lipsyte's 'The Contender' in the 8th grade, 'Lord of the Flies' in the 7th. 'To Kill A Mockingbird' in the 6th grade, 'Huckleberry Finn' in the 7th, 'The Scarlet Letter' in the 9th, and '1984' way before I was a senior in high school.
And since when could seniors in high school deal with Toni Morrison's 'Beloved'? Holy smokes. Something's wrong here.
As I was struggling with getting my Texafornia piece out of 'draft', I started talking about multiculturalism over the matter of integration vs assimilation. I think that multiculturalism offers real answers but most people don't understand what a deep multicultural ethos involves. I think far too often we get bogged down in petty differences and toss the baby out with the bathwater.
I'd like to cite a series of books here too while I'm at it to help folks get an idea where I'm coming from.
Class Three - PC
The principles of multiculturalism are well suited to resolving issues but we suffer from a surfeit of dialog about the laziest version, political correctness. PC is nothing more than the "don't ask don't tell" version of multiculturalism, it is the false pretense that everything is relative and that we can all enjoy each other's cultures with a Coke and a smile. So long as we don't offend, we can 'all get along' and society is better off. But PC demands no real understanding nor even an effort.
Class Two - Diversity & Pluralism
Diversity is one step up from PC and makes pefect sense. However it is misaplied as a principle when it's really just a strategy. The value of diversity is that it stands as an indicator of a willingness to make the effort to be inclusive. The best of diversity delivers a kind of robustness, it fortifies an institution by giving disparate groups an interest in its sucess. But this need be done purposefully with the intention of maintaining that robustness without losing links.
Pluralism is not a consequence of diversity, rather I think it the proper result of a non-chauvanistic secularism in a democratic society. You can have a healthy pluralism without the attempted mutual understanding of diversity. I think they reinforce each other but that they are not the same.
Class One - Diplomacy
A proper multiculturalism is probably best described as a 'panglossos'. It involves a non-trivial understanding of history and language of the peoples of different cultures and traditions. It is diplomatic but not necessarily integrative. It is the most difficult to achieve, of course, because bridging such gaps are very difficult. Imagine giving up the principle of 'innocent until proven guilty' as the character portrayed by Richard Gere in 'Red Corner'. Respecting alien systems of governance, wedding and burial traditions, oral and written history etc are tremendous undertakings.
I find something to agree with and disagree with in Dale Franks' latest clarification of his sophisticated understanding of the (southern) immigration problem.
What I agree with is that it benefits Mexico to have their citizens working in the US and delivering funds back to their home country. It stands to reason that these funds are not adequately taxed. I haven't heard much tell of the Mexican oligarchs being mercantilist, I'm not even quite sure what it means, but I'm sure some clever Mexicans have figured out a way to make a buck out of the way expatriot workers are making a buck.
It makes sense that if working conditions truly suck in Mexico, a significant enough expatriot workforce insures that there are a lot of voters who aren't raising the issue. Further it makes sense that if those remaining in Mexico are extra depressed it doesn't show if someone monkeys with the economic figures taking these expatriot workers into consideration vis a vis per capita income.
Nevertheless I'm not sure that we take a particularly nuanced view of the segment of the Mexican population who comes here in the context of the Mexican economy. The owner of Telmex, a pal of President V. Fox (he has a crazy nickname but it slips my mind) tried to purchase SBC during the Clinton Administration. Yes he could afford it, but suddenly it was made illegal by Congress. On the other hand there are campesinos who are too impoverished to even make the trip to become farmworkers.
In this appropriated clip, Martin Luther King Jr. echoes Gandhi and the Negro Spirit in his admonitions against the Vietnam War. MoveOn.org demonstrates how far they are from being non-partisan in their foolish portrayal of GWBush as Hitler in their anti-war effort.
While radicals of all sorts are intent on counterspinning every dodge and dive of actors on the political stage, the fundamental principles of Christian Love remain unchanged expressed through timeless metaphors. So I think what we ought to learn is that what the Left has lost and what MLK had in spades what Christian charity.
if you've seen the Hitler thing - take a look at the MLK thing.
Understand that people will appropriate MLK forever. It shows a lack of true leadership as this and that speech of his is stretched to work for every new challenge. But the difference between moral leadership and moral posturing is clear.
Way back in the 70s (literally) I used to sell stereo. One of the new gadgets that came out right at the same time as the Walkman, was the 'Bone Fone'. It was a radio embedded in a 24 inch long tube of flexible blue spandex. You wore it over your shoulders like an athlete wears a towel around his neck, or somebody named Biff wears a wool pullover when the sun comes out. The heavy parts were in the ends so you could actually jog with it on.
It used bone conduction to transmit the sounds through your collarbones. Or so it promised. They went for 65 bucks and I sold maybe 3 of them in a whole year. They really weren't very powerful and it turns out that collarbones don't resonate bass very well. Good idea though.
Well apparently, some folks in Japan think that speech is another matter, so they've gone ahead and made a bone conduction cellphone. It looks ridiculous, but it just might work.
Blackfive has a photoshopped picture of a soldier with a backwards American flag and several others that makes a snarky political point. The fact that it's a fabrication is either the whole point or beside the point.
A number of people make the point that GWBush lied to the American people about WMDs. I think it's reasonable to say that most folks bought what it was he was selling. I don't think he lied. I think he persuaded. We all saw Colin Powell's UN presentation and we all bought it. By we, I mean those of us near the tipping point.
If you were like me, you always had suspicions about buried reciepts in the Pentagon. Why did Saddam have WMDs? Because we sold them to him, that's why. I have been satisfied for so long with matters of his murder that I'm never quite sure if I've spelled them out clearly here. What is a weapon of mass destruction? Well, that depends on how massive the destruction must be to get your attention. In order to get together a reluctant, heel dragging international coalition, the destruction has to be an affront to powerful nations the likes of which survived WW2. Thus, dramatic slide shows at the UN. Keep this in mind.
Imagine you are a striker at a supermarket. You hate the fact that there are people going into your store while you're out in the cold without work. So in sympathy if not agreement, I've gone to other supermarkets. They're crowded. How crowded is a crowded supermarket? Ten registers with 7 people in each line, plus 14 baggers cashiers and stock clerks. You've got 4 people in line for the butcher and 4 for the baker and at least three shoppers in every one of 10 aisles. In middle class suburban America, that's considered chaos. In math its just 126 people.
How long would it take Saddam Hussein with one helicopter gunship to destroy a supermarket full of people? Forget that they're Americans for a moment and imagine that they're Kurds or the Ma'dan Iraqis. Instead of supermarkets causing headaches, you'd be equally aware of certain places in your neighborhood being deadly. According to this strategic assessment, Saddam had about 100 helicopter gunships. It wouldn't take him much time at all.
I don't understand why the Clinton and Bush administrations did not want to use the term 'genocidal' to describe Hussein's activity, but I think it's appropriate to describe what he was all about. So the question about the truth-telling somehow focused on the how but not the what. I don't know the cause, but many in the American public have been snookered into looking for a smoking gun rather than a genocidal maniac. Perhaps it's because the Bush family doesn't spend much time in supermarkets.
For my peace of mind, and specifically to look beyond the squabbles in Israel and Palestine, I decided to behave like a powerful nation which has survived WW2. I invented the Lynch Factor so that anything below 3k murders wouldn't pass muster and I wouldn't need to comment. Saddam passed that threshhold easily, but I must say that I regret that arbitrary decision. It's the same kind of blinder that makes mass homicide something other than genocide, the same kind of lie that makes it necessary to raise the stakes from proving intervention requires nukes and chemicals rather than helicopter gunships destroying villages. This is the same kind of self-deception that justifies hair-trigger reactions and overkill. I'll try not to do so in the future.
In the meanwhile we are faced with lies and deception about the nature of international conflict, but Bush couldn't have lied to us if we weren't already lying to ourselves.
I'm going to be a jerk and suggest a meme. When a call center calls you, ask "How's the weather in Mumbai?" Of course you needn't be so specific, unless the people calling you are THE ASSHOLES FROM PROVIDIAN, who can't seem to leave my nerves alone.
Yeah I'm a globalist but I expect outsourced CSRs to understand at least the difference between a first name and a last name.
Pacifists are the only ones I give any credit for opposing the war against Saddam Hussein. Everyone else is trying to make political points. This is the context for my judgement of Bush.
Something I've been thinking about for a couple weeks and really couldn't find a way to say it was what to think of American discontent with the war disaggregated from the political performance of GWBush. I've come up with some questions I think must be considered in order to do so. But first to Bush from my perspective.
I find GW Bush to be a mediocre president. His election was primarily a repudiation of the Clinton presidency gone sour. He was elected to do the standard kinds of things people now expect of Republican presidents. Compassionate Conservatism could work. His election was achieved in the context of a healthy economy and an overheated stock market which has gone mostly kaput and has now finally started creeping back. But as for Bush's own domestic agenda, especially vis a vis Compassionate Conservatism, he never quite rose to that task. Events overcame him.
I don't think he's made the best out of a bad situation, but he has performed admirably. My confidence about where we are as a nation comes not my faith in Bush's ability to work the government, but from the people we are as Americans. We handled the situation, and we wouldn't have let any other president do much differently. But the zealotry of Neocons have rubbed a lot of otherwise intelligent people the wrong way, and it is the squealing of these stuck pigs that adds more noise than signal to the evaluations of Bush, the anti-Saddam missions and the actions against global terrorism.
What should Bush have done differently? He should have given Powell more time to be a hero. When the operant words were 'regime change', Powell was a hero in Europe. Could we have waited 6 months? Yes of course we could have, and I think we should have. Bush antagonized many nations by his timetable. There was no present threat, but we weren't sure about that. We in the American public were no more sure about Saddam's WMDs than we were about the Arab Domino theories which were equally discussed and considered a year ago. How many of us remember this? (insert link of very popular animation with little mad bombing terrorists and missiles flying all over the middle east).
Key in my thinking about these matters is the question of the no-fly zones. These were supported by the American public. Supporters of the 'Baby Bin Laden' theory had very little concern about the militaristic reactions to that American military presence. For those who might have spoken up against flying American jets over Iraq, the concern was primarily humanitarian, or so it seemed.
When the hostilities escalated to an out and out shooting war, I expected many Americans who sounded like pacifists in order to justify their arguments against Bush to focus on issues of humanitarianism. From those who complained that America had run roughshod in the first war and defied the UN whose oil for food program was insufficient I expected an airlift. I wrote a cartoon about it because I felt that the spirit of the loyal opposition was primarily one of concern for the living conditions of the Iraqis themselves. But that airlift never materialized.
By the time the anti-war arguments began pointing to 'priceless antiquities' I realized the amount of hypocrisy in many of these arguments. The contradictions were becoming clear. Fisk himself was a great example of someone who consistently asked the kinds of questions that were not generally answered, but battles erupted about the man himself. I think that reflected poorly on everyone both pro- and anti- forces.
What we have not been hearing in the anti-war arguments are about the devastation of war itself. There may be people who complain about refugee problems, but are there really refugee problems? How many people have actually been displaced by the battles and occupation? The humanitarian question has really not persisted in any shape. This is what is most striking to me about most opposition to the war against Saddam Hussein, and it is for this reason that I will most likely discount the kind of arguments that I am beginning to see: the increasing body count of American soldiers. If your most strenuous objection to the war and occupation is expressed in terms of the cost to America then I believe you're on the wrong track. Such an argument fails to recognize most moral calculations, most notably humanitarianism. Besides, we can actually afford it.
More later on Bush's lies.
Human Rights Watch hasn't published a word on Iraqi refugees in over 10 months.
Attention all y'all players and pimps right now in the place to be.
Mystical's ass got sent to jail now y'all gotta listen to me.
Think you can outsmart the law and do anything you please.
Guess who has the biggest laugh when you'll be on your knees.
Rap your ass, but watch yourself.
Douglas Rushkoff weighs in. From the intro.
The emergence of the interactive mediaspace may offer a new model for cooperation. Although it may have disappointed many in the technology industry, the rise of interactive media, the birth of a new medium, the battle to control it and the downfall of the first victorious camp, taught us a lot about the relationship of ideas to the media through which they are disseminated. Those who witnessed, or better, have participated in the development of the interactive mediaspace have a very new understanding of the way that cultural narratives are developed, monopolised and challenged. And this knowledge extends, by allegory and experience, to areas far beyond digital culture, to the broader challenges of our time.
Also names to note in the Acknowledgements:
Thanks to Tom Bentley and everyone at Demos for the opportunity to extend this inquiry to a new community of thinkers. Thanks also to my editorial assistant, Brooke Belisle, and to colleagues including Andrew Shapiro, Steven Johnson, Ted Byfield, Richard Barbrook, David Bennahum, Red Burns, Eugenie Furniss and Lance Strate.
I'm looking forward to hearing from these folks in the future. These are precisely the kinds of questions I'm asking about here.
The best thing that apparently can be said for the Iowa caucuses is that they've just proven themselves to be sensible by putting John Kerry in the lead. Of the dwarves, Kerry has always been the one I've considered most sensible, but hearing tell that his campaign had disintegrated I discounted his effect.
I am not inclined to wax eloquent with purple prose at the demise of Gephardt. I'm glad to see him go. I have always considered him ineffectual and presumptuous. He is the singly most large yet boring mammal in the Democratosphere. Just looking at him reminds us all how much we miss Paul Simon.
Today is a refreshing reminder that pundits don't determine elections. That sound you hear is the rumble of 100,000 bloviators scratching their heads.
Dale Franks' case agains illegal immigration is that a certain kind of immigrant defies America. America's greatness depends upon fidelity to core values of the country which by the nature of where they send their money proves they reject those values.
Legal immigrants come to this country to become Americans. They wish to start a new life, and become part of their new country.
Illegal immigrants, for the most part, have no desire to do any of the above. Illegal aliens tend to either 1) reside here temporarily (although temporarily can mean "until I can retire") with express intention of one day returning to Mexico, and do not become part of the larger national community, or 2) come here expressly for the purpose of having children born here, who then become eligible for a wide range of benefits, thereby allowing them to live off of our largess. They repatriate a significant portion of their income to Mexico. Indeed, this is Mexico's largest source of foreign income except for petroleum exports.
It sounds like a mix of two arguments. They are not contributing to the pot and they don't respect the pot.
While his measures against illegal immigration are rather draconian, he does make a point which goes beyond most we hear. But it brings into focus that we really don't know what the intentions of those 'sin papel' are. I but I think we can be pretty sure of one thing: If they could afford to bring their families with them, they would.
Whatever the net flow of money out of America from those who work here and send it back (Thomas Sowell surely has some figures), I find it very hard to believe that it is done so out of subversive patriotism to Mexico. Those who work here on a mission to get money back are part of a tradition estblished many years ago by 'coolies' that Sowell calls the 'Overseas Chinese'. This time of expatriot migrant worker finds low- or unskilled work in a country far a way and sends money back. I find this a legitimate enterprise, a poor man's free trade.
In this regard such workers are part of a system of free trade. They should not be under any greater burden of fidelity to patriotic duty than those American corporations who employ other than Americans in their respective countries.
It's a lovely notion to consider that Americans who fled the Eastern Seaboard to the prairies were the paragons of virtue that formed the strong core of the Republic. It speaks well of Kansans and Jayhawkers of which I am proud for specific reasons. But I'm not so certain that any declaration of patriotism suitable for legal immigration will live up to that standard, if it could be called a standard at all.
Amnesty for corporations who outsource labor and build offshore factories is taken for granted. Americans have all sorts of reasons for questioning their patriotism, but we really know it's all about money. I think it appropriate to apply that standard to expatriot migrant workers as well.
I understand that these issues will be dealt with separately, but they should be considered together.
The One State idea is anathema to most parties concerned for a variety of reasons, many of them good. Here we see it used as a rhetorical device - a scare tactic. From Ghassan Khatib of BitterLemons.
The recent statement made by Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei concerning a binational state and resulting in such an uproar was not only a response to developments in Israeli-Palestinian relations, but also a response to growing debate inside Palestinian society and among various Palestinian political tendencies.
But before exploring the reasons for the statement, it is important to first clarify any misunderstanding. While many interpreted Qurei's comments to be an _expression of support for a binational state, this was not at all the context of his statement. Qurei was only intending to warn Israelis and the international community that if Israel's settlement expansion policy continues on its current trajectory, it will remove in practice the possibility for an independent Palestinian state and with it a solution based on two states; thus Palestinians would have only one remaining option to achieve their rights as equal citizens of a country: the one state solution. Qurei's warning stemmed, then, from his commitment to the two state solution, which remains the official position of the Palestinian people and their leadership.
Indeed, the binational state is not a solution. On the one hand, it contradicts a key element of Israel's objectives, i.e., to have a Jewish state, and on the other it contradicts a fundamental Palestinian goal, which is to have a state of their own. That is why this option has never been promoted by the Palestinian leadership and will never be its chosen policy. It could, however, be the practical outcome of current Israeli practices in the occupied territories, the wall and settlement expansion, which are delaying the establishment of a Palestinian state and making its prospects dimmer by the day. These changes happening right under our nose will likely be irreversible: as the saying goes, a ton of regret never made an ounce of difference.
Uncle Saddam came over for the holiday and got blitzed again. Ever since he lost his job, he's been coming over, raiding the fridge and complaining about how nobody respects him any more. He doesn't realize that nobody really ever did, we just put up with him because Grandma Libby kept telling us it would be more cruel to let him crash. Anyway, I kept telling Libby he was beating his kids, so where was here concern about that? Finally Grandpa Dick got sick of it and went to beat the crap out of Uncle Saddam.
Naturally when Dick went over and beat the crap out of him Libby had a fit. All she cared about was trying to stop the violence. When Dick knocked over his 'priceless antique' Lladro off the mantlepiece, Libby hit the ceiling again. I like what Dick did in principle but now we've got to pay the note on this bum's house. Half of his kids naturally still love their abusive father. It's a real mess. Of course it turns out that Dick couldn't find the gun that he swore Saddam was threatening everybody with. I mean Libby's got a point now that we have to run Uncle Saddam's house and pay his mortgage until the kids are responsible enough to do it themselves, but of course Saddam pissed away all the money and nobody knows how to get it back - not that it would be enough.
OK I've given it a month. Times up. I hereby pull the plug on NPR's latest foray into youth-oriented pop radio, Day to Day.
Simply stated, the problem with redneck radio is that while it is very entertaining, it is stupid. The problem with public radio is the exact opposite. It tends to be smarter, but it boring as all get out. Too damned sincere with no sense of humor. I suppose the solution to this is supposed to be Day To Day. Not even close. It's certainly true that Day To Day can be considered light and airy compared to Morning Edition and the personalities are young and friendly sounding, but they never pierce the veil. I get the distinct impression that the show is produced by people who were raised to cover their mouths when they laugh, or titter as the case should be more properly stated. The yuppification of the liberal tradition is complete - these are people who would be too embarrassed to laugh at a Richard Pryor joke, and they're supposed to be outdoing redneck radio? Yeah right.
Day To Day has dumbed down the already cloying sensibilities of All Things Considered and started putting beats behind voiceovers and political speeches. Sorry. I prefer my news a little bit harder. This won't do. Don't worry. I'll be dead or quiet in 40 years and you won't have to hear me complain in 2044. For now, I'll stick with Warren Olney.
Incomplete thoughts on a massive subject - originally December 2003
Television and all forms of marketing are going through nichification. The common complaint is that although there are 500 channels, there is nothing on. Add the qualifier 'for me' and you have it right. The promise of the internet marketing phenomenon was one to one marketing, and it still appears to be the fetish of the entire marketing industry.
I can only think of one television show that families with children can all sit down and watch together, not that I've looked desparately. That show is America's Funniest Videos. Other than that, I'd bet that families who are guarding their children's virtue end up only watching television shows about families who are guarding their children's virtue. That or something zany, wacky or silly.
What you find hard to find are a full pipe of cultural productions which are edifying and open, ethical and real. Fundamentalists, although wrong to compete, are right to complain about the corruption of society. Conservatives are wrong to say we've lost something. Liberals are correct to say we've failed to create something. That something is, in the center of our society, a mature and continuous melioration of the ecumenical values of our cultural pluralism.