.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

The Tally Ho

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

While Taking a Break

and doing some online reading, I found this cartoon:

The image was attached to this article from CorpWatch
In testimony submitted to members of Congress, one truck driver explained in detail how taxpayers were billed for empty trucks driven up and down Iraq and how $85,000 vehicles were abandoned for lack of spare tires. A labor foreman said dozens of workers were told to "look busy" while doing virtually no work for salaries of $80,000 a year. An auditor related how the company was spending an average of $100 for every single bag of laundry and $10,000 a month for company employees to stay in five-star hotels.

"We saw very little concern for cost considerations," David Walker, head of the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of the Congress, told members of the Congress who attended a hearing at the Government Reform Committee in the House of Representatives. "There are serious problems, they still exist, and they are exacerbated in a wartime climate."

Stolen from Good Intentions

Move over Stepford, here comes the Crawford Wives.

A Review of "The Corporation"

Because I listed this as movie I would like to see below, I will post this review that David sent me via NY Times today. Too bad David hasn't finished part II or III of his opus.

June 30, 2004
MOVIE REVIEW | 'THE CORPORATION'

Giving Corporations the Psychoanalytic Treatment
By A. O. SCOTT

Since a corporation is legally defined as a person, it makes some sense to ask what kind of person a corporation might be. The answer offered by "The Corporation," a smart, brooding documentary directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, is: not a very nice one.

The film, which opens at Film Forum today, half-mockingly offers a psychiatric diagnosis based on a list of abuses that arise from the relentless pursuit of profit. The point is not that individual companies pollute the environment, hurt animals, exploit workers and commit accounting fraud, but that such outrages are a result of the essential personality traits of the corporate life form. These behaviors are symptoms arising from a list of pathologies that includes "disregard for the well-being of others," "inability to form lasting relationships" and "deceitfulness." A psychiatrist who has advised the F.B.I. declares that the corporation has "all the characteristics of a prototypical psychopath."

This scary diagnosis, backed up by sinister soundtrack music, is supported by talking-head testimony from activists, a few C.E.O.'s and scholars (including Noam Chomsky, the subject of Mr. Achbar's 1992 film, "Manufacturing Consent," with Peter Wintonick as co-director). "The Corporation," based on a book by the Canadian law professor Joel Bakan, is divided into cutely titled chapters ("Democracy Ltd.," "Boundary Issues") that link particular cases of capitalist misbehavior with larger issues. The structure is a bit unwieldy: some of the case studies, fascinating though they are, bog down the main argument in unassimilable details, while the argument itself sometimes threatens to float away into abstraction.

But the film's formal inelegance is a sign of its seriousness, and also of the complexity of its chosen subject. The topic, after all, is intricate and global, and Mr. Achbar and Ms. Abbott address it with spiky, dogged intelligence, if also with hectoring persistence. Corporate power is at once self-evident and elusive, mundane and esoteric, aggressive and insinuating. In the view of the filmmakers and most of their interview subjects, it is always bad and never to be trusted. The imperative to expand makes the corporation a fundamentally predatory being, gobbling up everything in its path — natural resources, populations of potential laborers and consumers, public spaces and private aspirations — without conscience or accountability.

In other words, "The Corporation" is a monster movie, and nobody, faced with so much alarming testimony, would want to defend Godzilla as he smashes buildings and tramples streetcars. But like other, less sophisticated efforts to articulate a comprehensive anticorporate ideology, this movie occasionally ensnares itself in contradictions it does not quite acknowledge.

One of the most basic of these is raised by the conceit of treating the corporation as a mental patient: is there a cure? Sometimes the film seems to suggest that there is, as when antisweatshop activists shame the Gap into changing its overseas labor practices, or when the chief executive of a carpet company becomes an advocate of sustainable manufacturing and environmental responsibility. But at other points, such reforms are viewed skeptically as instances of co-optation and public-relations spin.

One section of the film examines the historical links between various companies and mid-20th-century fascism, which are used to support a broader claim that modern consumer capitalism is, at bottom, an oppressive system of authority. "Is it narcissism that impels them to seek their reflection in the regimented structures of fascist regimes?" the voice-over narration wonders.

Well, maybe. But what is missing from "The Corporation" is any recognition that capitalism survives at least as much on seduction as on coercion, and that it has flourished not simply by means of chicanery and domination but by extending, and often fulfilling, promises of freedom, creativity and individual choice.

Mr. Chomsky grimly complains that the system makes "people into mindless consumers of things they do not want," but this analysis, while not exactly inaccurate, feels a bit incomplete. Glancing up from my laptop at the mess of sneakers, CD's, half-eaten snack foods and other useless products that surround me, I have to admit that the shoe fits. But then again, it's a comfortable shoe, it looks nice, and I got it on sale.

It may sound strange to say this about a left-wing documentary, but "The Corporation" might have benefited from a bit more Marxism. Marx, among the first to identify the malign features of capitalism, was also a persuasive analyst of its dynamism, its progressiveness and its corrosive effect on older forms of political and cultural authority. "The Corporation" is a dense, complicated and thought-provoking film, but it simplifies its title character.

THE CORPORATION

Directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott; written by Joel Bakan, based on his book "The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power," with narration written by Harold Crooks and Mr. Achbar; edited by Ms. Abbott; music by Leonard J. Paul; produced by Mr. Achbar and Bart Simpson; released by Zeitgeist Films. At Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, South Village. Running time: 145 minutes. This film is not rated.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Useless Babble

because I am bored... First, if you haven't read it yet, this is Christopher Hitchens review of Fahrenheit 9/11.

Jason sends his greeting with a dress W website that, frankly, scares me enought that I will never look at again.

After whining about my health care issue to a friend, he gave me a post card for this march on 30 August 2004 - that I guess will coincide with the GOP convention.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Who Loves Their HMO?

So I get home around 10pm tonight from a rather long day. In my mailbox is a letter from my health care provider and a post card from my father. Thinking that this would be a great mail day, a hello from Paris and a nice reimbursement check, I opened it with glee. I was denied the truely magical experience of an easy relationship with my health care provider. The explanation of not reimbursing me was this: "BENEFIT EXCEEDED". For further explanation I checked the code chart on the back, "The maximum benefit for this service has been paid." So I will call tomorrow and see what the hell that means, because they haven't sent me a damn check for this! One thing I do not lose track of is money owed to me. I wonder if they will tell me that my policy changed and I am SOL for the last quarter of a year.

Update 29 June 2004, 10:50am: They should be denied communion... I don't need no stinking benefits! I love my, I love my, I love my HMO!

More Films to Watch For

Ben sent me a link to the new film Orwell Rolls in His Grave. However, the jury is definately still out as IMDB users rate it a 4.4. Here is the trailor

Another political movie about media culture that IMDBers give a better rating to (8.5) is The Corporation.

Lastly, another seemingly good movie worth checking out to appease my obsession with media and culture is The Hunting of the President. IMDB users give it an 8.5 thus far. It is based on the book by Joe Conason and Gene Lyons.

If anyone sees any of them before I do, let me know what you think.

Addition: I almost forgot. I had a great conversation at today about the documentary of the Weather Underground. When this person saw the movie he said Mark Rudd was at the screening and had some interesting things to say about the need for coalitions among individual groups of activists (One example may have been Civil Rights and Vietnam), and discussed how he sees things now, in retrospect.

I really love linking images. I'm like a child with a new toy!

Oh Yeah!: The springboard for this post was part F9/11, but mostly an article that Trope sent me yesterday. The Best Goebbels of All? by Frank Rich, which appeared in the NY Times Sunday. Its I will provide the last paragraph, but read the whole article:
Remember Todd Beamer and "Let's roll"? Don't expect the
Bush administration to bring that up now. The real heroism
under fire on United 93 only calls attention to the
emptiness of the heroic poses Mr. Ashcroft strikes while
celebrating his own terror-fighting prowess on TV. Those
who find Michael Moore's propaganda hard to take can
luxuriate in the knowledge that the only office he's likely
ever to run for is Best Director. The idea that Mr.
Ashcroft might be the guy standing between us and
Armageddon, on the other hand, is already a reality and
scarier than anything in "The Day After Tomorrow."

Thanks Trope!

Today's TPM

I was reading Talking Points Memo this morning and I ran across Josh Marshall's latest post. It is about the forged Niger-uranium documents and the latest story in the Financial Times. But, Mr. Marshall claims:
My colleagues and I have reported on this matter extensively, spoken to key players involved in the drama, and put together a detailed picture of what happened. And that picture looks remarkably different from this account which is out today -- specifically on the matter of the origins of those forged documents and who was involved.

I cannot begin to describe how much I would like to say more than that. And at some later point in some later post I will do my best to explain the hows and whys of why I can't. But, for the moment, I can't.

Let me, however, offer a hypothetical that might help make sense of all this.

Let's say that certain individuals or organizations are responsible for some rather unfortunate misdeeds. And let's further postulate that such hypothetical individuals or organizations find out that some folks are on to them, that a story is in the works -- perhaps more than one -- and that it's coming right at them. Those individuals or organizations -- as shorthand, let's call them 'the bad actors' -- might well start trying to fight back, trying to gin up an alternative storyline to exculpate themselves and inculpate others. If that story made its way into the news, at a minimum, it might help the bad actors muddy the waters for when the real story comes out. You can see how such a regrettable turn of events might come to pass.

This is of course only a hypothetical. But I thought it might provide a clarifying context.

Any guesses?

A Few Morning Reads

A few op-eds that I think are good reads: First, Gary Willis' piece in Sunday's New York Times titled The Bishops vs. The Bible. One highlight is:
Modern "right to life" issues — abortion and contraception — are nowhere mentioned in either Jewish or Christian Scripture. Pope Pius XI said they were, in his encyclical Casti Connubii (1930), where Onan's "spilling his seed on the ground" (and the reason for his punishment by God) was interpreted as preventing conception and birth. Yet no scholar of Scripture accepts that reading of Genesis 38:9 anymore; it is read as referring to levirate marriage duties. The Vatican now agrees with this interpretation. Even in his own sphere, the revealed word of God, the pope could be wrong...

So "right to life" as a slogan is a question-begging term. The command not to kill is directed at the killing of persons, and the issue in abortion is this: When does the fetus become a person? The answer to that is not given by church teaching. Even St. Thomas Aquinas, who thought that a soul was infused into the body, could only guess when that infusion took place (and he did not guess "at fertilization"). St. Augustine confessed an agnosticism about the human status of the fetus.

The whole piece is interesting. This made me think of an op-ed in the Washington Post last month titled The Alter is Not a Battlefield by Victoria Reggie Kennedy. In this piece she writes:
The flaw -- and apparent political ideology -- that underlies the threatened denial of Communion to pro-choice politicians becomes even more apparent when it is contrasted with the treatment of those who support the death penalty. Politicians who support the death penalty specifically authorize the government to take the life of a human being, even though the circumstances under which church law permits capital punishment "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent." Indeed, canon law makes clear that, in almost every conceivable circumstance, there are adequate, nonlethal methods to deter crime without having to deprive someone "definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself."...

The church also teaches that it is wrong to have "excessive economic and social differences" between the rich and the poor, and has even stated that a portion of the responsibility for abortion rests "on those who should have ensured -- but did not -- effective family and social policies in support of families." Yet there is no threatened penalty for those who do not vote for governmental policies that help the poor. It is patently wrong to single out an elected official who allows a woman -- and not the government -- to make a private decision, while remaining silent about those who authorize and encourage the government to follow economic and punitive policies that are so contrary to the teachings of the church.

So those are two pretty good reads for a Monday morning.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

This morning has been okay. I listened to Studio360, which was pretty good. But last night I saw the new Michael Moore film, Fahrenheit 9/11. I expected a Michael Moore experience, and that is what I got. Perhaps the biggest thing going against Moore is how much controversial publicity he has received. From Disney refusing to distribute the film, to winning the Palme D’Or at Cannes, to conservatives trying to reduce the number of theatres it is shown in… he has become a larger than life figure and allowed seemingly everyone to have an opinion of his movie and of Mr. Moore. No question this is great for selling tickets, but what if the film falls short of the hype?

Fahrenheit 9/11 does fall short in a few respects. While I was not expecting a mass circulated Frontline documentary with Moore’s humor, I did expect more from the film. I say this because there is not a lack of information about the Bush family and their ties to the military industrial complex, intelligence sector, and foreign investment. First example is obviously Kevin Phillip’s great book, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush. When discussing Halliburton I do not think adding two or three additional minutes to show pictures and reports of the rotting food being served to our troops, the general unsanitary conditions, how troops did not get served every meal, the price gouging, etc. would make the movie too long. They did interview a solider that questioned the logic of paying soldiers $2,000-$3,000 a month while Halliburton truck drivers were making $10,000 a week. Another great article that discusses BushCo priorities and lack of competent planning was Atlantic’s National Correspondent James Fallows feature article in the January/February 2004 issue titled Blind Into Baghdad.

I appreciate what Moore did accomplish. I also appreciate how Moore, just like in Bowling for Columbine, discussed fear and paranoia, poverty and class, and attached a human angle to the war. What I am trying to say here is that you almost get the feeling that this movie bit off more than it can chew. Part of this may be a rush to get it to theatres. Part of it could be that this is Michael Moore’s style. And let us not forget that much of this is because the Bush Administration has done so many questionable things that no two hour film can possibly capture the gravity of the situation at home and in Iraq. I left the theatre somewhat disappointed, mostly because I probably got caught up in the hype (and the Billionaires for Bush were a riot). But as I thought about it this morning I think it did its job. For many, Moore’s film could be a starting point for those who are newly questioning Bush’s war without having to sit through a film filled with analysis that only a career academic would appreciate. For others it could be purely entertainment.

Friday, June 25, 2004

O'Frankin Factor/Whatcha Reading/Ron Reagan Jr.

It has been a terribly busy week. Blogging just hasn't been on the top of my list. Work, whiskey, weddings, worrying about sis’s health, hanging out, and sleep have taken a much expected front seat. I have been listening to Al Frankin's O'Frankin Factor on Air America Radio this afternoon. This is probably the best individual show of his that I have listened to (but that’s maybe once a week). They had Ronald Reagan Jr. discussing his father and the Bush Administration; Michael Moore on his new film that I am seeing in 5 hours, Fahrenheit 9/11; and right now former President Bill Clinton.

Ron Reagan's interview with Frankin pretty much mirrors his interview on CNN. Some highlights:

WOODRUFF: You have said, Ron Reagan, that you are not a Republican. Were you ever a Republican?

REAGAN: No, I've never joined any political party and have no plans to do so. I'm fully independent.

WOODRUFF: Why not? Why not be a Republican?

REAGAN: Well, I couldn't join a party that, frankly, tolerates members who are bigots for one thing. Homophobes, racists. You know, there's no way I could be a part of a party like that. Just no way.

WOODRUFF: You've also said, I think, that you did not vote for George W. Bush in 2000. You haven't made secret of that. What are you going to do this year?

REAGAN: I'll vote for the viable candidate who is capable of unseating George W. Bush.

WOODRUFF: And presumably, that's John Kerry.

REAGAN: That's how it looks right now, yes.

On Stem cell research and William Clark's Op-ed in the NYT:

I would remind people, too, William Clark among them, that if they're going to be intellectually and morally consistent with this issue, then they need to come out against in vitro fertilization. And you'll notice that the administration hasn't done that. Thousands of embryos are discarded every year in vitro fertilization clinics. Why aren't they complaining about that? Because it's a political nonstarter so that's, you know, moral inexactitude, to say the least.

I am reading parts of two nonfiction books at the moment. They are: Photography on the Color Line: W.E.B. DuBois, Race, and Visual Culture by Shawn Michelle Smith


and Radio and the Struggle for Civil Rights in the South by Brian Ward

Would some nice person out there recommend a nice piece of fiction for bed time or Sundays in Central Park? I feel out of the loop recently for new fiction.

Monday, June 21, 2004

New Blogs to Check Out

My head is still recovering from a great family wedding weekend. All I have to offer are new (in the sense I haven't linked them yet) blogs that have been in my inbox for a while. I will organize the links later...

Good Intentions
Michael Berube
Crooked Timber

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Philly Daily News/Rally

Our favorite law student, Jen of Good Intentions, posted this Kerry endorsement from the Philadelphia Daily News (Jen lists the sign in as iloveregistration@aol.com & helpme).
In that spirit, this newspaper, the first in the nation, endorses John Kerry for president. Unlike the current White House occupant, Kerry can lead America to a brighter, better future. He has shown the personal courage, compassion, intellect and skill to lead this country in a time of war abroad and economic troubles at home. He is a serious man for a serious time.

It is too long to post the whole opinion, but as Jen points out, not only do they make a case against Bush and for Kerry, but they also a strategy to beat Bush - and where to get registered to vote.
The goal is to find among those 4 million non-voters new Kerry supporters and get them to register by Oct. 4 and then vote on Nov. 2. In this goal, the Philadelphia region is crucial.

While the rest of the state tilts heavily Republican, Philadelphia has a rich vein of Democratic votes, which has not always been mined. It's because of Philadelphia voters that Clinton and Gore have won the state in the past.

In other news, we have an excluse photo from a fringe candidates rally in a not so alternative universe...

Because They Have No Comment Section

I thought I would steal this post from Craig of NAAS. It is good. If you want to post a comment, leave it below - or visit NAAS and email the site!

Forced Out

On top of everything else going on in our lives, we will be moving August 1-5 or so . . . Carlos is selling the house because his taxes are too high. Our new home will be right accross the street from the old one. . we will have the first floor and basement of the house accross the street, which also belongs to Carlos and Marta - they lived there when they first got married. He has just finished rehabbing it, it has a new kitchen, dishwasher, washer/dryer, back porch, back yard, deck on top of the garage, for $300 more a month. It will be a little tight moneywise, but it is about twice the square footage of this apartment - it's a one bedroom (twice as large as the bedroom now) with a walk-in closet and a storage room . . . two bathrooms . . . we will sign a longer-term lease for at least 2 years, so we will be locking in a really good deal. I couldn't be more excited.

Carlos getting forced out is part of the rapid "gentrification" or whatever of the neighborhood. The real culprit is property taxes, which, for the millionth time, are socially destructive, regressive, and just a lousy way to fund government services. Your taxes should go up when your income goes up, not because the house you've owned for 15 years is suddenly worth more because crime has gone down and you have richer neighbors. People like Carlos have worked to make this neighborhood better, he is a landlord providing decent, affordable apartments to working people like us, and government policy is screwing him over for the crime of not converting his real estate into high-end condos for dotcom ditzes and boomer empty-nesters. Carlos is an airline pilot and Marta has a professional job - how rich do you have to be to survive in Chicago now? Clearly no one will be able to offer decent affordable housing in the city unless tax laws are changed. People complain about personal income taxes but concerning the alternatives (property taxes, sales taxes, Norquistian anarchy) they are the least bad alternative.

# posted by Craig : 9:46 PM

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Frozen Fried Potato a "Fresh" Vegetable?

Now this article by is just silly. The USDA considers frozen french fries a fresh vegetable. This is sad. I mostly eat fruit and vegetables, but I don't count french fries as a real vegetable. I once took a course in college about the Colubian Exchange. This prof made a joke one day that only in America would we peel off the most nutritional part of the potato leaving the pulp, then fry it, and consider it a healthy food. But that was probably seven years ago - and I never thought that he was being that serious...
Tim Elliott, a Chicago attorney who recently challenged the revision in a Texas federal courtroom on behalf of a bankrupt food distributor, said defining French fries as fresh vegetables defied common sense.

"I find it pretty outrageous, really," said Elliott, who argued that the Batter-Coating Rule is so vague that chocolate-covered cherries, packed in a candy box, would qualify as fresh fruit.

"This is something that only lawyers could do," Elliott said, pointing to a stack of legal documents debating the French fry change. "There must be 100 pages there about something you could summarize in one paragraph: Batter-coated French fries are not fresh vegetables."

This got me thinking about an article from the May/June Harvard Magazine that I found on Arts and Letters Daily several weeks ago titled “They Way We East Now” by Craig Lambert. It is somewhat long, but nonetheless a good read about health. I will also take this opportunity to shamelessly plug Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Nico News!

Well, well. The Return of the King was short one. If you have been following the life of Nico in Paris these last few months, you would have read many of his posts about being a student, the EU expansion and follow up, Iraq & Europe, politics, more politics, the US being an Orwellian society, about his life in Paris and falling in love, and a suggestion for alternative plans to travel Europe (probably more in the archives).

Well, I have great news. Nick got engaged! 14 months from now, in Paris, Nick is getting married. He has to spend 10 months in the US fulfilling obligations before he can relocate to Paris permanently. So anyway, congrats to Nick. He is traveling and does not have access to the internet at all times.

Nick, to quote my bro: “Dude, getting married is expensive.”

Ray Charles

Why Not Cultural Icons on Our Currency?

I meant to write about Ray Charles several days ago, but I just didn't have the time. But I feel as if I have to write something... After what seemed like the national month of morning for former President Ronald Wilson Reagan, and the crazy talk by some of putting him on Mt. Rushmore, replacing Andy Jackson on the bill, replacing FDR on the dime... I got to thinking along the lines of Craig of NAAS. Why not put America's cultural icons on our currency? When I traveled through Ireland I thought it was great that James Joyce was on their currency. The US has its share of influential writers, artists, and musicians - so why not?

What about the case for the innovative Ray Charles? NY Times writers Jon Pareles and Bernard Weinraub, in their article "Ray Charles, Blusey Essence of Soul, Is Dead at 73", write

"Ray Charles is the guy who combined the sacred and the secular, he combined gospel music and the blues," Mr. Levy continued, adding, "He's called a genius because no one could confine him to one genre. He wasn't just rhythm and blues. He was jazz as well. In the early 60's he turned himself into a country performer. Except for B. B. King, there's no other figure who's been as important or has endured so long."

I am not saying that we necessarily should put Mr. Charles on our currency, but that if we are discussing individuals influences on US and world culture - why not pay tribute to them as we pay tribute to our other great men and women? Either way, goodbye Mr. Charles.



Obits from the Guardian and BBC

*I saw a great mock of Mr. Charles on the $10 bill, but I can't find it on the web. Check it out if you can find it.

Update: Thanks to FlakCat's Xanga Site and dKos...



Check out the new This Modern World 'toon

Friday, June 11, 2004

Another Point in the Reagan Legacy

The Bush family ascends to the most powerful political family probably since the Kennedy’s.

I was chatting about the legacy of Reagan with a guy on the way back from a sandwich shop yesterday. He made a very interesting point about the Reagan legacy that I had not heard this week (though I have been ignoring much of it), George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Obviously I am not talking about policy (did you look at Bush's webpage most of last week?). As Krugman’s Monday op-ed pointed out, Reagan raised taxes several times, something that junior Bush will never do. But the Bush part of Reagan’s legacy started when George H.W. Bush was chosen as Vice President in 1980 after losing the GOP primary to Mr. Reagan. Kevin Phillips, in his book American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, comments that the main reason why senior Bush was selected as Reagan’s running mate was to ease the Northern moderate Republicans concerns over Reagan and his South/West conservatism. Bush seemed like a good choice by their estimation. Prescott was a Wall Streeter turned Connecticut Senator, dubbed a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. The Bush family was an elite New England, Anglican, family with successful businessmen on both sides (I will have to check, but I believe the Walker’s were successful in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Kansas City – someone has my Phillips book!). Phillips made another statement that I remember. When the Bush family left the Northeast they moved to Texas, Midland I believe (where some streets are named after Ivy League institutions – again, I want my Phillips book back). Phillips made the comment that the difference between the Bush family and other influential families was the Bush family chose the right state. Junior Bush, however, seems very different from his father. He is evangelical Methodist. He seems to reject his Northeast background and the social moderates, etc., etc.

But anyway, I think this guy made a good point. The junior Bush presidency cannot be left out of the Reagan legacy. As Phillips pointed out in his book, the Bush political power comes from the marriage between the military industrial complex, the intelligence community, and big business. I guess you now can add religious and social conservatism to that mix.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I Know What the Kids Want



Office is closed for the "Day or Mourning" on Friday, so I guess the weekend starts early (although, I will pop in)... what is better than having the Belgian Smile at Vol de Nuit? Not better, but still entertaining is the latest Strong Bad email, "replacement".

*Photo Courtesy of Beerhistory.com. Caption reads "We Want Beer -- Labor union members in Newark, New Jersey protest against Prohibition, marching and carrying signs that read, 'We Want Beer,' October 31, 1931."

Because

There is a Prisoner reference in this (Thanks Jason) Onion STATshot...
--

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

3am-1pm Part I

Steve asked me to tell a story. I recount more of a delirium. Sleep outruns me by 30 hours at this point. I still must attend a 3 ½ class this evening and then Dr. Chimay’s office hours.
First, glance at the picture below. What do you notice? The Foucault-esque gentleman with the pipe (not a pipe)? The fine mullet specimen? Perhaps the transvestite Cher impersonator stole your gaze? If the latter, the theft is unintentional – quite the opposite occurred, actually. A swarm of diva impersonators (of the Cher, Liza, Bette types) descended on mid-town Manhattan in the early hours this morning as a gift to the city that didn’t invent, but certainly perfected guerilla marketing. Some clearly earned the label transvestite as well. Some clearly did not. Some… well… make-up and hosiery work wonders on perception when mixed with lack of sleep.
I hesitate to continue this charade by providing all the relevant details, but the success of this journey still hangs in the balance. My friend Jeff convinced Steve and me to help accompany the divas to the Today show and escort them throughout a mid-town parade to promote the new Biography episodes beginning tonight with Bette Midler (check your local listings especially if you serve as a Nielsen household in the greater tri-state area).
The operation began at the Hotel Edison – a rather unique command central reminiscent of that one G.I. Joe episode where Cobra Commander attempts to lead a similar diva force to discover the secret of Snake Eyes’ youthful skin. Upon entering the Floral Room on the second floor, the site of makeup and wigs signaled that we entered the cocoon from where divas would soon emerge. Two hours later we rode in a charter bus less than five blocks to the NBC studios at Rockefeller Center – only a posse from southern Indiana (not divas, but still uniformed in traditional “whur not from round here” outfits) stood in line between us and the steel corral soon to ensnare us for five hours. After an hour of waiting in the initial line and the cursory security check we entered the Today Show arena. A cage match where commercialism and script merge forming a spectacle that would make even Guy Debord question the boundaries of representation (I must admit here that I have no idea what that last point I made means -- it just sounds kinda cool, eh? Consider, however, that I just introduced the world to the first post-postmodern writing – I call it “pan-modern” and I, its vanguard (now I must redirect you to the part of this message where I tell you how much sleep I’m working with here.)).

[at this point I realize must hustle to get to class on time. More later…]

3am-1pm

Perhaps a story from David later...

--

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Great Reagan Debate

It was my attempt to not write one thing about the legacy of Ronald Reagan. The blogsphere was literally overflowing with posts about Reagan, and some of the debates turned nasty. But something that Craig from NAAS commented about the OTM piece below made me want to, just a little.
I am not surprised at the difference in tone between "liberal" and "conservative" media. One of the fundamental fault lines in our society is the Enlightenment, with Liberals defending Reason while Anti-Enlightenment reactionaries are siding with Faith. As a result, Cons are starting with a preferred conclusion in which the "believe" and are grabbing any factoid that supports this course of action and gluing it on their argument. Liberals are looking at evidence and attempting to reach a logical conclusion.
You can see the "faith-based" approach at work in coverage of Reagan this week, with all mention of his progressive tax hikes and arms control measures removed by the right, who prefer to remember his rhetoric and forget his record.

This morning reading while sifting through the online version of the New York Times I came across Paul Krugman’s op-ed, The Great Taxer. He has a series of comments that address the difference between rhetoric and record. On Reagan being the most popular president of our time, he writes:
A number of news sources have already proclaimed Mr. Reagan the most popular president of modern times. In fact, though Mr. Reagan was very popular in 1984 and 1985, he spent the latter part of his presidency under the shadow of the Iran-Contra scandal. Bill Clinton had a slightly higher average Gallup approval rating, and a much higher rating during his last two years in office.

On the Economic boom:
We're also sure to hear that Mr. Reagan presided over an unmatched economic boom. Again, not true: the economy grew slightly faster under President Clinton, and, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the after-tax income of a typical family, adjusted for inflation, rose more than twice as much from 1992 to 2000 as it did from 1980 to 1988.

But what I found more interesting is his tax cutting status, and the promotion of Bush as Reagan’s heir. Krugman points out that Regan actually raised taxes after figuring out that the early cuts were irresponsible, something that junior Bush will not do. He continues:
Mr. Reagan's second tax increase was also motivated by a sense of responsibility — or at least that's the way it seemed at the time. I'm referring to the Social Security Reform Act of 1983, which followed the recommendations of a commission led by Alan Greenspan. Its key provision was an increase in the payroll tax that pays for Social Security and Medicare hospital insurance.

For many middle- and low-income families, this tax increase more than undid any gains from Mr. Reagan's income tax cuts. In 1980, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, middle-income families with children paid 8.2 percent of their income in income taxes, and 9.5 percent in payroll taxes. By 1988 the income tax share was down to 6.6 percent — but the payroll tax share was up to 11.8 percent, and the combined burden was up, not down.

So while the debate will continue about Reagan conservatism and how the Bush people would probably like to use Reagan as a campaign tool (did you hear the difference between Reagan's and Bush's Normandy speeches?), they aren't the same person. Did you see Ralph Reed's comments about Reagan and religion in an article by MSNBC’s Tom Curry that appeared Saturday?
Another conservative, Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition, viewed the Reagan presidency with chagrin: “His eight years in office did little to transform a political culture that had become insensitive to religious values and uncaring about innocent human life.”

Reed said conservatives “woke up the morning after Reagan’s two terms to discover that many maladies still afflicted our nation and many pathologies had grown worse.”

So perhaps while this is all being hotly debated, Reagan can have a different kind a legacy away from tax policy, religious conservatism, Iran-Contra, and the Cold War. Perhaps his passing will provide Congressmen and women the cover they need to ease the restrictions on federal support of stem cell research. As you may know, Nancy Reagan has been advocating for stem cell research. An article yesterday by Erica Warner of the Associate Press claims that
Fifty-eight senators are asking President Bush to relax federal restrictions on stem cell research, and several said Monday that the late President Reagan's Alzheimer's disease underscored a need to expand the research using human embryos.


Hopefully this happens.

Update: Speaking of Reagan as a campaign tool, check out the new front page on Bush's reelection page.

Another Great One

by Tom Tomorrow. I don't want to make this a habit, but since this one deals with the media coverage specifically the New York Times and Judith Miller's coverage during the run up to the Iraq invasion and it is a nice follow up to the Chalabi cartoon from last week... I can't help myself.
--

Monday, June 07, 2004

In the Office and Jealous

So, I just got an email from a friend touring parts of Europe - currently in Galway, Ireland. This brought back all the great memories of my two week Ireland trip four years ago with my father, brother, and god-brother. Not even this incredibly comfortable chair can change the fact that, I am seriously jealous.
--
Hello Everyone!!!
Tony and I are safely in Europe and are officially having fun. We first landed in London and spent three days there. We had tea and scones ... :) and we saw sites like Kensington Palace and live choir music at St. John's Cathedral. Then we took the Britrail to Ireland, which was a beautiful train ride through Wales, and then a ferry across the Irish sea. Then we spent three days in Dublin. We saw the Morrisey show in Dublin Castle and we saw some of the sites like Trinity College and the Guiness Storehouse. Last night I danced to live Irish music in pub and drank Guiness :) Today, we are in Galway, Ireland. This area is really different than Dublin and a little less Big City than Dublin...It's really nice here. I wish you could be here with me. We will see the cliffs tomorrow. We will be heading to Paris and Nice in about three days. Well anyways, Internet here in Europe is soooo expensive so I better go ...bye for now... Love, Terra

--

Too much to say about my own experience...

Sunday, June 06, 2004

On The Media: 5 June 2004

& "How Public is Public Radio"

This week on OTM they had a series of very good stories. They have a story on how conservatives are changing PBS. How Rush Limbaugh is on Armed Forces Radio for an hour each day – and how the administration views NPR programming as a counterbalance to the outrageous things that spews from Rush's mouth (come on, NPR liberal – not to mention that Rush is an entertainer, not a newsman). The interviewer asked why Howard Stern, the second most listened to radio personality, was not offered. I wish I could provide a direct quote, but transcripts do not come out until Tuesday. But in effect the answer was that Stern wasn’t appropriate for Armed Forces Radio. The interviewer then followed that up by questioning the representative about the comments Limbaugh made about the Iraqi prisoner abuses (see Media Matters coverage). Also covered was “Young Republicans” and the Leadership Institute, a segment titled “The Lies and the Lying Leaders Who Tell Them”, and a story on Karl Rove and the media. All these stories can be heard on the OTM webite.

Also covered this week on OTM was how Russia’s most watched public affairs television show was taken off the air by President Putin. The introduction to the story on the website:

First, he recorded an interview with the widow of a Chechnyan separatist leader allegedly murdered by Russian agents. And then, when his bosses yanked the interview under pressure from the Kremlin, he spoke out publicly about the censorship. And all of this on the heels of Vladimir Putin's election victory pledge "to ensure the freedom of the mass media."


Speaking of media, Media Matters is also covering how rightwing pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are attacking philanthropist and activist George Soros and his Open Society Institute.

While listening to the OTM interview where NPR programming was considered a counterbalance to Rush Limbaugh on Armed Forces Radio, I thought about the recent study that FAIR released titled “How Public is Public Radio?” For years many conservatives have pointed to NPR (and PBS) as a “liberal media” outlet.

Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR, and FAIR’s latest study gives it no support. Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.
Partisans from outside the two major parties were almost nowhere to be seen, with the exception of four Libertarian Party representatives who appeared in a single story (Morning Edition, 6/26/03).

Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge, individual Republicans were NPR’s most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance. George Bush led all sources for the month with 36 appearances, followed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (8) and Sen. Pat Roberts (6). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Secretary of State Colin Powell, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer all tied with five appearances each.

Senators Edward Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller and Max Baucus were the most frequently heard Democrats, each appearing four times. No nongovernmental source appeared more than three times. With the exception of Secretary of State Powell, all of the top 10 most frequently appearing sources were white male government officials.


To paraphrase someone, who I sadly can't remember the name, why does it seem like right wing pundits are expected to be emotional and say whatever they want without regard for balance while left wing pundits are expected to present balanced arguments without the anger or emotion?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Another Cartoon

Here is another funny cartoon. I am on a political cartoon kick. This one is by Tom Toles found at ucomics.
--

Thanks

Thanks to everyone who made it to our picnic in the park after work yesterday. I had a really good time. We should do it again this summer!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

New This Modern World!

I laughed when I saw this. I found it too funny not to post on this grey overcast day. Check out all the stuff by Tom Tomorrow at the archives at Working for Change.

--