Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Arianna Discovers Wal-Mart....

 Well, let's say she discovered what we've meant for years about the Wal-Martization of America.

She explains it well, in an articulate, crystal-clear smart piece that suggest we turn our boat around.

That would be a fantastic idea, if it wasn't a tad too late.

Let's be frank: the 'too big to fail' are also too big to fight. Obama has 671 billion dollars worth of guns pointing at his head to continue the mess we are in in Afghanistan and Iraq, Wall Street is one of the biggest contributor to the Democrat's party purse and despite the Republicans being outrageously Grand-Guignolesque in their pursuit of idiocy, bad taste and openly racist agenda, the Dems can barely make a dent in public opinion that's positive and lasting.

The seeds where sowed with Reagan, his deregulation process and hallowing out of Federal agencies. It consequences where obvious and they were not in anyone's favor but a handful of corporate casinos and their gambling-addicted brokers.

This process involved creating two very distinct classes, the have and the have-not, so that the working pool  stays affordable and 'flexible' and the United States copies the 'amazing successes' of 'emerging' giants like China and India.

With the manufacturing jobs go the manufacturing unions. With affordable and equitable education goes an informed and active middle-class. With a swift and organized recognition and integration of immigrants go a new citizenry access to the American Dream.

Instead, religiosity, self-aggrandizement and military might popularized by a fabricated network  of right-wing superstars, constantly present in the 'News', are pushed down our collective throat. The Federal government and all those 'brown wetbacks' are presented as scapegoats explaining the decline of the country and the economical hardships felt by what's left of the middle class. And finally, the service sector, principally non-unionized from McDonald to Wal-Mart, keeps wages low and upwardly mobility expectations lower. Don't forget that Wall Street, more often than not, owned the market place, your workplace.

I have seen the future and it's in Dubai: no taxes, no minimum wage, no minimum working hours, second-class citizenship accorded only to those who can afford real estate, immigration of individual on (paid) sponsorship only and with bank accounts in the sponsors' names that can be seized at any infraction. No family reconstitution. And God help you if you rear-end a Saudi limo or, Heaven's forbid, if he rear-ends you. On both cases, you're screwed. Well, guess where's Halliburton moving...

Arianna is right but how many Democrats are thinking long term solution and long term fight. How many thought 'We voted Obama, he'll clean that mess up.' and are now disillusioned because it is a process that is taking much longer than ONE term. How many will vote with spite on the next election and bring back the Republicans in power so they can finish what they started.

Hope we can reverse the trend created after 24 total years of Republican distortion and extortion. Hope it's not too late. So  I hope I'm wrong. I really hope I am.

Monday, April 26, 2010

African kimono by Serge Mouangue

From DesignBoom:

African born, Tokyo based designer Serge Mouangue combined African fabrics with the design
of traditional Japanese kimonos since 2008  to create his 'Wafrica' series. Together with Kururi, a Tokyo based kimono maker he produced the traditional Japanese attire in 18 African limited edition prints. Mouangue developed the range to celebrate the diversity of the two cultures.

Being Young, Black, Talented and in a TV show (Wait! You're Not!)

It's all about being correct.
Not politically correct but just being right.
I was watching an old episode of Bones the other day and was struck by a familiar pattern of TV characterization:
The uppity Black character that is supposedly brilliant needs to be corrected by e-v-e-r-y other characters about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g in e-v-e-r-y single scene she's in.

Think Camille in Bones, Omar Epps in House, or any show with a Black BFF that is just there to sassily say anything too outrageous for the good white girl's lips(Yes, Sookie, I do mean you!).

Those corrections are almost systematic and they serve to prove that the other characters' loyalty is with the real boss of the show and that the Black character is isolated in her thinking. And wrong. Very, very wrong. Most of the time.

Of course, those Black characters are not an integral part of the group, they serve as foil. The group get coherence and unity by , not hating per say, of course, let's stay hypocritical, but by being deeply annoyed by this Black presence.

The authority they have is either short lived ( as they never belonged there anyway) or illusionary (as all the other characters will try their damndest to do the complete opposite of what have been ask of them by their Black boss). They're monomaniacal to the point of being ridiculous ('I want my son!' have been uttered one too many times by Michael in Lost to be taken seriously… Usually excellent Harold Perrineau was strained to the point of idiocy since he had to be the traitor/murderer/suicidal loser for all.), they are also confused and overly racist- when race as to be mentioned for a reason or another.

If they are respected and have any weight or agency, then they are uncompetitive in other ways (overweight, unattractive, stupid, dull, all of the above). If they fall in love, it is with 'one of their own'- another Black character as ineffective and dull as them- or with a psychopath/loser/incompetent hybrid of some other race or the love is a lost cause. Rose and Bernard from Lost are an exception, I think. Nikki and D.L., Nikki and her son Miccah or Simone and Isaac, all of Heroes, are more the norm.

A research demonstrated that that antagonism I perceived in TV shows is not all in my head, as the proponent of the 'No, no, racism is dead and you're only suffering from massive collective delusions because Black people are crazy that way but I'm not racist' theory would like us to believe.

TV CLIPS Reveal Racist Body Language
A new study reveals white characters display far more negative body language toward their black peers

Joseph Hall , Health Reporter

'Racist body language comes through loud and clear on television, even when the sound is off, a new study shows.
Through a set of ingeniously concocted experiments, reported Friday in the journal Science, researchers show that white characters in television series display far more negative body language toward their black peers than to members of their own race.
The bias conveyed by these body clues is not only recognized subconsciously by people who watch the shows, but significantly influences their feelings about the black characters.
"Sadly, we observed that non-verbal race bias is a typical pattern on scripted television shows," lead study author Max Weisbuch said in a release on the paper.
"White characters are treated better across the board and this has an impact on viewers," said Weisbuch, a post-doctoral psychologist at Massachusetts's Tufts University...'

That exactly what I mean: there's no friendliness or real acceptance of the Black characters. Their background history (they often have none-no visible, active friends, family or loved one, no complexeties), their quirks, their contribution (if the writers can think of any) are all superfluous and the writers don't even try to hide it anymore. Think Smallville.

And funnily enough, when they are cordial and well-rounded, they are often swiftly replace with a less 'agreeable' character or they are pushed into doing seemingly irremediable stupid errors to the point of losing all credibility and respectability. 'We don't want to seem to friendly', seems to be the word around TV studios.

I don't owned a TV anymore, I gave my last away 5 or 6 years ago. The lack of diversity in plot, characterization and casting made me sick one day and that was that. Maybe I'm not alone. Surely, I'm not alone. I don't think I am the only one thinking 'Oh! Look! Another Hispanic gang member!' (And usually, it's always the same actors doing the same roles too…), 'Well look at that! Another Asian computer nerd!' 'Aaaaanh shuck! A Native American in total symbiosis with nature and drinking peyote.' 'Well, well, well… If it's not the crazy, angry, crackhead Black women with one too many kids…' and feeling sick to my stomach with this absurdity…

It is not only a question of Black and White but one of life versus bad script. Stringing along a long list of idiotic cliché does not make good writing of any kind. Sometimes, I rather they do not try at all rather than ruin a show with good intentions and crass ignorance. Some of these writers have never seen a Black, Asian or Hispanic person in the flesh except on aTV screens and it shows.

So I watch Supernatural and cringe when they brought in 2 completely closed-off Black British actors once. But I applaud them with the intervention of Kali - beautifully made, guys. I'll miss Gabriel. Bad Luci!
I have to remember that Bones is on FOX network and Fox always had their issues (In 2001, they were the one with the least Black actors on their shows among all the networks according to a SAG study.)
I watch Law & Order - the original- because the real McCoy is there but also that precious, fantastic underused actress S. Epatha Merkerson as Detective Van Buren and she is leaving the show next year. Also, Alana de la Garza is playing gracefully and smartly against type.
And I sigh to think that the original Mr. X was a Black man in the X-Files but Mulder and Scully were the best. Ever.
Forget I'll Fly Away, Any Day Now, Star Trek Voyager or DS9 or even Mannix, for Pete's sake. They're gone and forgotten with nothing of value to replace them.

I watch shows that don't think I'm an idiot.

And there's not too many of those right now. So, I'll stick to movies, books and the news.
Oh, wait, the News writers definitively think we're all idiots...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Javier Marin: Sculptures of a Doomed, Graceful Dream

I love their tortured shapes, the fake history that they hint at ( and the real ones that they questioned.)
His pieces remind me of one of my favourite sculptor, the African Ousmane Sow.

He will take part of the Vancouver Biennial taking place now 'till May 20th.

See more on his website.

More Headlines...on the Crazy Republicans of the Day side

Tea party and the Republicans try to unite to create an anti-government militia?

Armed right-wing activists comparing themselves to Warsaw ghetto Jews and calling for 'thousand little Wacos'?

Michele Bachmann 'Prayercast' against Health Reform?

Can they get anymore bizarre than that?

Yes, they can!
Why not recruit your employees to become your 'grassroots' activists?

From Think Progress:

EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Coordinating Wall Street’s Stealth Lobbying Campaign To Kill Reform

On Thursday, President Obama announced his commitment to pass sweeping legislation to reform Wall Street and to create a new regulatory structure meant to avert another economic crisis. However, the financial industry is fighting back, hoping to obstruct legislation, water down the bill, and possibly kill effective reform.

The legislative battle is multifaceted. Frank Luntz, a consultant who is paid by financial services firms, wrote a messaging memo now used by opponents of reform to confuse the public and smear the legislation. As Talking Points Memo revealed earlier this week, a K Street PR firm known as the DCI Group — with ties to Wall Street — is working with a front group to run ads against reform. And recently, Republicans have met with top bankers and representatives from the banking industry to trade campaign dollars for a promise to fight reform.

However, as with the health reform debate, there is a large, more subterranean effort from industry to kill reform. As the Politico Playbook reported yesterday morning, “financial-services giants are going grassroots” to lobby against reform. ThinkProgress has learned that the banks and financial conglomerates are using the same stealth lobbying operation the health insurance industry employed last year to mobilize opposition. Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Master Card, and other industry players are working through “Democracy Data & Communications” (DDC) — a firm that specializes in helping corporations activate their employees and customers into grassroots advocates — to join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s effort to kill reform. The domain list of the DDC server, obtained by ThinkProgress, contains various Wall Street websites, including one seemingly named after JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, which all transfer visitors to the Chamber’s anti-reform campaign:
USAA, the financial services corporation, also employs DDC for its grassroots lobbying and mass e-mailed its customers Friday morning to call lawmakers and oppose reform (view a copy here). Last year, DDC helped JP Morgan Chase coordinate a stealth campaign to kill efforts to tax banker bonuses.

The Hobbit House is for Sale in Mexico...

Its designer, the Mexican architect Javier Senosiain calls it the Nautilus, I call it the Hobbit house.
I can just imagine Ian Holmes trotting along, preparing cordials with a couple of Russian hookers and Ian McKellen chuckling along (still dreaming of Derek Jacobi)...

Some Headlines You Should go Beyond.... and Some Answers for Tea Partiers

I am happy that Huffington Post caught up with the right answer to give any tea partier who ask what do the government do with his tax money:

It gives almost  50% of it to the Army to make war and gives the rest to Wall Street just for the hell of it.
Give my regard to all the Bushes for me.

Or give it to them in another language:
Dept. of Defence Spending Budget :           663,700,000,000
Dept. of Small Business Spending Budget:        700,000,000
Dept. of Education Spending Budget:            46,700,000,000
Dept. of Social Securities Spending Budget:11,600,000,000

And that doesn't take into account the Stimulus bill - or Recovery Act - that I like to call the New Deal Extra Light and that tries, timidly, to correct the wrongs done over the years in our messed-up-priorities case of a democracy.

But AlterNet have some startling headlines and keen analysis that always makes me want to dig deeper.

Here's some that should warrant your attention:

* Moyers: Six Banks Control 60% of Gross National Product -- Is the U.S. at the Mercy of an Unstoppable Oligarchy?
Moyers and economists James Kwak and Simon Johnson wonder whether the financial powers are more profitable, and more resistant to regulation than ever. 
* The Financial Terrorists Who Destroyed Our Economy Will Pay Zero in Taxes -- and Get $33 Billion in Refunds
You and I are working our asses off, paying 30% of our limited income in taxes. Not the banks that triggered the financial crisis. 
* An American Phenomenon: The Widespread Psychiatric Drugging of Infants and Toddlers
The United States has become the psychiatric drugging capital of the world, medicating children at a younger and younger age. 
* Facing the Threat from the Far Right, Noam Chomsky Says He 'Has Never Seen Anything Like This'
"The mood of the country is frightening. The level of anger, frustration and hatred of institutions is not organized in a constructive way." 
* Five Ways the Wall St. Reform Bill Needs to Be Fixed
The Wall Street reform bill in Congress won't live up to President Obama's goals -- unless we can push them to change it. 
 Have fun digging!

It Was Never About Capitalism: It Was Always All About Money...

There is a difference.
Capitalism, socialism, they're only systems, only a way to acquire things and reach a goal.

They are complex arrangement of ideas, people and environments that give absolutely no guarantee of success.

The only way people can win all the time - in any system - is by cheating.

Wall Street decided to give themselves a boom and bust version of capitalism ideology that will let them cheat and win every single time.

After the 1929 stock market crash, the American government  put in place modern market regulations to prevent any more depressions lead by panicked investors and banks.

The SEC was created and Kennedy Sr was its first chairman.
And it worked: for 58 years, there was not one market crash since Roosevelt's intervention.

But we all know how Republicans could not leave all this good work alone.

Reagan came in and lifted most regulations (Hand in hand with Margaret Thatcher who was doing the same thing oversea by stopping exchange control and turning a blind eye on the activities of the London Stock Exchange) and crippled federal agencies so that controlled capitalism could be easily replace by uncontrolled greed.

The result was the Savings and Loans scandal and the very first post-1930s bailout of private financial institutions - under Daddy Bush himself - for almost 125 billion dollars worth of bad loans, deposit brokers commissions and real estate investment failures.

That scandal put the government in a deficit state that would take 20 years to correct - before another Bush came around to play with public funds.

Do you see a trend here yet?

If not, you should.
One way or the other, all your tax dollars will go to Wall Street.

There has been a big syphoning of public money toward bailing out irresponsible, gambling addicts.

Wall Street is very unhappy right now because Obama would like to see the moolah party end in our generation. Addicts being addicts, they just can't stop cold turkey without help, mental and otherwise.

Seeing the Forest have again put their hands on a gem: a regulator is crying for help and saying that their role is now to be complacent decoys, supporters of fraud and laissez-faire.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Why the Left is Losing the new Civil War...And How Can we Win?

Yeah, I know: it sounds very apocalyptic and desperate but we are in a feverish, high strung , desperate time.
It is clear we're in the centre of a vast political turmoil. The right have declared war on the New Deal Legacy. They just want to scrap at everything FDR left. The left seem undecided about what to do: go on with the popular kids or fight them with all their meagre strength.

The most successful right wing contender was Ronald Reagan: by demonizing African American as THE Welfare Queens and Kings and not as they always been the traditional cheap labour of the Nation on which freedom all have been built, he succeeded in re-establishing the moral principles of the right as viable and sound.

Reagan articulated a rage so potent in some that they did not understand that by defeating those 'spongers' they were actually voting against their own self-interest.

All that supposedly saved money did not go to 'taxpayers' but to subsidizing already profit-full companies  and their owner so they could lay off as much workers as possible and send those jobs elsewhere.
Moreover, the biggest 'spongers of them all were not - and still are not - individuals but corporations, war profiteers and  industrial farms. Believe me: a single mother of 3 have nothing on Halliburton and the Agribusiness. And by Agribusiness, I'm not talking  good ol' farmers here but big industrial complexes that pollutes most of our nation waterways without a second thought.

War spending is 50% of the Federal budget. The welfare Kings and Queens? 5%. Veterans Affairs? 3% Education? 3%
Up to now, since Reagan, deregulation is the key to happiness of a few , a very small percentage of the population. And they in turn dictate what Joseph Lyles  has call the 'drumbeat', the catchphrases, the ideological memos, the celebrity (think Palin) distraction du jour. It has been the same 'beat' since Reagan and it won't change. So why can't we adapt a strategy?

I think the reason why the Left will not win this war of ideas is because, unconsciously,  we follow the sound of the same drum.

Just go on Huffington any day. Every time there's a Palin pictures, it will generates ten of thousands of comments while any domestic policies coverage will attract 50 or a hundred on a good day. It's fun. We think we're being clever while we're just being distracted...

Unfortunately, I'm afraid the reason why we will lose in November is because we will probably be too busy to post an anti-Palin joke/comment to go vote. The Tea Party bangers will be at the booth while we will be blogging and photoshopping our  way to own demise.

So how do we win?

In my humble opinion, Ali was right: 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee'

It means float on the internet, get information, disseminate facts, create an effective left hub (bigger and a bit less glam than HuffPo) where all the small, isolated blogger could have a home and exchange;
and sting like a bee at every right wing commando actions: deflate Rush, give Beck a Kleenex and some chill pill, unmask the Tea Party for the GOP armed robots they are and get our talking point across on domestic policies in major corporate media in an effective manner. Don't we have a think thank on this yet?

Anyway enough doom and gloom.:

An oldie but goodie from Joseph Lyles.

Personally, I don't think 'cheap labor conservatist' has enough bite to it but he's on the right track.
What about 'corporate welfare conservatism' or 'Halliburton conservatism' or 'big Mafia conservatism' or 'Goodfellas conservatism' or 'egotrip conservatism' or ' eat the poor conservatism' or 'WalMart conservatism'?.... I could go on...

From the Democratc Underground website.

by Joseph Lyles

Have you got three minutes. Because that's all you need to learn how to defeat the Republican Right. Just read through this handy guide and you'll have everything you need to successfully debunk right-wing propaganda.

It's really that simple. First, you have to beat their ideology, which really isn't that difficult. At bottom, conservatives believe in a social hierarchy of "haves" and "have nots" that I call "corporate feudalism". They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a "respectable" sounding ideology. That ideology is pure hogwash, and you can prove it.

The Only Victims You Can Listen To: The Tea Party Bangers

They rock.
They roll.
They scream bloody murders like 3 years old.
They cry on demand and pout.
They threaten the nation of  armed revolt and secession.

They are insanely misinformed.
They seem grassroots enough to look genuine but the bermuda clad old white xenophobic guard
- who claim to have direct access to the Founding Fathers' brains, hearts and every other vital organs -
have this air of deja vu, of old news and fake concerns and cringe-inducing ideological contradictions.

In other words: where have we all seen this before?

Bla, bla, bla - small government - with huge WAR  facilitating created deficit and corporation subsidizing.
Bla, bla, bla - bootstraps for everyone: if you can't have kids, stay with your alcoholic husband and get to church for moral support like everybody else just die already. Where does it say anything about helping anyone in the Constitution?
Bla, bla, bla - Nafta, Free Trade, The Share Holders Pleasure Principles - no need for manufacturing jobs here, they're for losers and Unionists. If the corporation gets richer then the whole country gets richer! Don't you get it? Your share of GDP just gets bigger! Don't you feel the love?
Bla, bla, bla - no taxes but more services! (This one makes my brain explodes. I just can't deal...)
Bla, bla, bla - no immigration reform or else we will have to pay them a decent wage and then where will we be?
Bla, bla, bla - no bank bailout (well, duh! Say thanks to Dubya and Paulson for that one) but no government regulations, meddling or, gasp!, takeover!
Bla, bla, bla - No! To everything! Because I say so!
Bla, bla, bla - no liberal media - but WE own them wouah! ha ha ha!  Own the idiot box, you own the idiots! Viva la vida Fox!
Bla, bla, bla - no activist judge - except our own!
Bla, bla, bla - no unemployment benefit - the more desperate you are, the less you cost. And there's always WalMart.
Bla, bla, bla - no government schools - the slaves didn't know how to read and they made a decent livin'! Stop bitchin' all the time and get to work!
Bla, bla, bla - confederacy - And you thought we'd lost?! Suckers!
Bla, bla, bla - God is on our side. Sucker!
Bla, bla, bla - no national heathcare BUT DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH MY MEDICARE ! (Screeching pitch)

Well, you get the gist of it.
Where, O, where have we seen all of this before??
Wait, it's in the tip of my tongue, white, rotund, male, newt worthy, gone in vacation all the time, war, deficit, lame jokes, no accountability....
Darn! I almost had it....
Where have we seen this before?
And why can't we make them eat those words once and for all?

From the Nation

Tea Party Hypocrisy


February 11, 2010

"Energy. Budget Tax cuts. Lift American spirits." This was the infamous list of talking points scrawled on Sarah Palin's palm when she stood to address the first-ever Tea Party Convention in Nashville. It's fitting, given that the agenda of Palin and the movement for which she has become a tribune is short on details about how to govern the country. "Lift American spirits" is about as substantive a description of their agenda as you're likely to hear.

  • Esther Kaplan on Massey Energy and mine safety; John Nichols on WikiLeaks and collateral murder
Such vagueness has served the movement well, allowing it to claim to be many things it is not. There has arisen in some quarters a quaint and dangerous notion that the tea party movement is an entirely new phenomenon--a bipartisan, organic channeling of broad (and rational) distrust of and disgust with America's main institutions, particularly Wall Street and Washington, which seem to have formed a perfectly closed loop of rent-seeking and self-dealing. According to Tea Party Patriots national board member Mark Meckler, "Although we are conservative in political philosophy, we are nonpartisan in approach. Both parties need to re-dedicate themselves to the principles of our founding fathers and remember that this should be the government of 'We the People' and not of special interest groups or pork-laden politics." While the energy and outrage may be genuine and organic, we should not fool ourselves into seeing this as anything but a right-wing reactionary movement, one whose themes (jingoism, militarism and a cult of victimhood at the hands of sundry nefarious betrayers) are as old as the John Birch Society. And yet, because the details of the tea party's worldview remain obscure, it's startlingly popular with the broader public. Forty-one percent of respondents in a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll have a positive opinion of the tea party movement. According to the same poll, the Democratic Party was viewed favorably by only 35 percent. The Republican Party fared even worse with 28 percent.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A House to Get Away From it All

I am not one to go rustic but this house invites Baudelaire's line  from 'L'invitation au Voyage' to mind: 'Luxe, calme et volupté'.
Luxury, calm and sensual pleasure indeed...

Discovered on the (beautiful) Style-Files website.

Ana Duncan's Radiant Women Sculptures

 I love their shapes.
They're like Giacometti figurines but healthier: sturdy, sensual and strongly present.
They all have a strong enough personality to seperate them from Ikea style bland Euro-sculpture.

From the Ana Duncan website.

Plastic Kills From a Distance: Midway Atoll Tragedy

These photographs of albatross chicks were made on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.
To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged, or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent. View more from Chris Jordan’s series here.

 From Photo District News website.
The pictures themselves are from Chris Jordan.

Why Can't we be Friends?: The Lack of an Unifying Voice on the Left

Bob Herbert did it again. This time, his poise and precisely pitched outrage is all but palpable in his op-ed piece about the lack of an unified voice from the Left that could counter the screeching, perverse, unhealthy liebox of the right-wing media.

Why the thousands of little affiliations and bloggers and .org can not seem, finally, to get organize, not around a 'personality', but around the need to react to those dangerous forces at work right now within the inflammatory Republican pundits machine advocating violence, 'revolution', excessive demagoguery and right down sedition, is beyond me.

But it is also the most tender Achille's heel of the Left and leaves it vulnerable to the most poisonous impact of the hate speech of the right snake oil vendors. We are the new Silent Majority. And we can't seem to find representatives that know what to do with us since we're not the big corporate donors that they seek.

All of this could even spell, democratically, the undoing of a country who once knew how to do the right thing instead of just the Right's hysterical new memo point of the day.

A Voice Of Reason


Published: April 9, 2010
The Republican Party is not simply the “just-say-no” party. It’s also a shameless advocate of the free lunch. Ronald Reagan famously told us he could jack up defense spending, cut taxes and balance the federal budget all at the same time.

Readers' Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
George W. Bush put two big wars on a credit card. And now we have the perennially clownish Newt Gingrich, in an embarrassing rant against President Obama, assuring the deluded G.O.P. faithful that, yes, the party can indeed bring down the federal deficit while cutting taxes.

The Great Recession and the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan have not been savage enough to reintroduce the G.O.P. to reality.

One of the reasons so many conservative Republican absurdities became actual U.S. policy was the intellectual veneer slapped upon them by right-wing think tanks and commentators. The grossest nonsense was made to seem plausible to a lot of people — people who wanted to believe in a free lunch. When Mr. Reagan told the country that “government is the problem,” the intellectual handmaidens of the corporate and financial elite were right there to explain in exhaustive detail why that was so.

The result, in addition to the terrible consequences of Iraq and Afghanistan and the damage to America’s standing in the world, was the tremendous (and tremendously debilitating) transfer of wealth from working people in the U.S. to the folks already in the upper echelons of wealth and income. The elite made out like bandits — often literally. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

My Avatar is Being Whitewash!...

While we're on the subject of whiteness (see my next post or the article in the New Yorker...), I would like to tell you that I'm excited by the adaptation of one of the best animation series out there onto the big screen, but nope.

Avatar, the last airbender is being release soon but I don't think I'll have the stomach to see it.

I've stuck with M.Night Shyamalan all this time because of his demesured talent and ego and he made a film that actually change the history of horror movies. I don't mind ego: you need a healthy dose of it if you're to become one of the best. Also, I've stuck by Signs, Unbreakable, The Village even the Lady in the Water (where his Ego didn't leave us any room to breathe). Even  The Happening had its moment - tension, tenderness, some mood reading poignancy caught between anxiety and somber despair.

But typecasting is killing the joy of maybe seeing Shyamalan return in top form. Avatar, you see, clearly draws on different Asian and Native cultural aspects (which for some anthropology enthusiasts are all one and the same) to create a world both wondrous and warm but also really funny. The spiritual and physical elements of these cultures are never explicitly explained but anyone who followed Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph (my favourite) or Zuko (my  second favourite character) during their entire 3 years journey could tell you who supposed to be Chinese, who Japanese, who practices tai-chi and who does judo or is from Inuit descent.

For example, it's pretty clear that,  as in the Eddie Murphy's movie, Aang is from an alternate universe kind of Tibet. While Katara and Sokka are from a snowbound Inuit type world.

All that hodge-podge diversity mix of Avatar is what makes it fun in part. Another type of hero than the golden locked muscle girl magnet is always refreshing.

But Shyamalan must have mistaken Avatar for another instalment of the boring couple from Hell in the Twilight movies because the only thing Asian - apart from the villain of course- are the extras. (Black people will recognize the equal-opportunity-only-exist-with-extras-villains-or-prostitutes-or cretins-in-chief-characters-but-we're-not-racist 'cause-you-still-get-a-job syndrome reserve for minority actors still. Except for rappers.)

Katara is now a nice blond chick and her brother Sokka, a golden locked muscle girl magnet.
How refreshing, different and bold!

Racism, to paraphrase Sokka, is like boomerang, it always comes back. But Avatar's fans are not the quiet type.  Just see for yourselves how bad little zen buddhists they are.
They're not so easily fooled. Too bad most of them are not of voting age....

'The Last Airbender' is causing a casting commotion

April 7, 2010 |  7:01 pm
The practice of casting actors who best reflect the material a movie or television show is based on has long been a thorn in the side of casting directors, filmmakers and fans alike. Go with the best actors available? Go with the actress who looks or has other attributes similar to the character she will portray? Money considerations, fan reactions ... there's a lot to consider and a lot that can derail a choice. And a lot that can saddle a movie with huge negative backlash, which is what director M. Night Shyamalan and his movie "The Last Airbender" are going through right now.
Fans of the original anime-inspired cartoon series are objecting to the casting choices of the movie's main heroes: Noah Ringer as Aang, Jackson Rathbone as Sokka, Nicola Peltz as Katara and "Slumdog Millionaire" actor Dev Patel as Zuko, a villain initially.
A story touting East Asian and Inuit characters and cultures, "Avatar: The Last Airbender" is a fan favorite, with many identifying with the characters based on their appearances as well as their heroic deeds. However, the casting of Caucasian actors as the heroes, rather than Asians and Inuits, has caused many of these same fans to call for a boycott of the film in protest.
Julian Ramsay wrote:
Now, I'm not naive and no one has ever driven a dump-truck full of money up to my house and asked to buy my integrity. I am certain however, that no amount of money can remove that crushing feeling in your soul Mr Shyamalan, when your children look at this film and wonder why they look like the bad guys. This is sad more than anything as a glorious opportunity to show children of ALL color that they can be a hero too. Too bad your kids won't be able to look at you that way when they grow up to see what money does to a person.
I'll leave you with a choice quote from another 'Avatar' directed at you Mr Shyamalan - 'How does it feel to betray your own race?'
David S. wrote:
I'm going to be boycotting this movie. As the above article states, the whole story of Avatar revolves around Buddhism, Eastern Martial Arts, and East Asian themes in general. To have Caucasians play the main role, then insert a South Asian to try to appease the audience just doesn't cut it for me. I'm tired of Hollywood's blatant racism and refusal to admit to it.
As a children's movie, Avatar would be perfectly fine with Asians in the lead role. Who knows? Maybe it will even influence them into believing that you don't need to be white to be a hero.

Look What I Found! Whiteness!.... IN America!

The New Yorker has some of the most insightful articles ever published. I've been reading them for close to 2 decades now and except for that crazy Tina Brown episode (that nonetheless gave me my favourite movie critic in Anthony Lane and made Roseanne Barr editor for a week), I still find them exceptional.

You just have to read their 9 pages on retiring Chief Justice John Paul Stevens  and this:

Beyond the Pale

Is white the new black?

by Kelefa Sanneh April 12, 2010

Glenn Beck excels at expressing adventurous thoughts in memorable language, but he outdid himself when, one morning last summer, he offered a diagnosis of President Obama. He said, “This President, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture. I don’t know what it is.” (The context was one of the summer’s most entertaining reality shows—the one starring the black Harvard professor and the white police officer who arrested him.) In September, Beck sat for an interview with Katie Couric, and she asked him a deceptively simple question, which had been posed by a Twitter user named adrianinflorida: “what did u mean white culture?” Whatever adventurous thoughts this query inspired, Beck did not seem eager to share them. “Um, I, I don’t know,” he said. Finally, after two minutes of temporizing, he arrived at a nonresponsive response that was both honest and sensible: “What is the white culture? I don’t know how to answer that that’s not a trap, you know what I mean?”
Often, the most appropriate answer to that question is a joke, or a series of jokes. In 2008, a canny young white Canadian named Christian Lander started a blog called “Stuff White People Like,” which soon became a best-selling book bearing the same title; it listed a hundred and fifty of white people’s favorite things, from recycling to the Red Sox. (This magazine made the list, too, at No. 114.) Lander’s tone is faux-anthropological but wide-eyed: “Bike shops are almost entirely staffed and patronized by white people!”; “After learning that a white person is pregnant, it is a good idea to provide a list of recipes for placenta.” His “white people” are wealthy, urban, youngish, and thoroughly blue—they “hate” Republicans, and although Obama hadn’t yet won the Democratic nomination, he placed eighth on the list. (Coffee was No. 1.)

About the Confederates and their Peaceful History.....

One hell of a bright, articulate and funny guy explains just how most Blacks feel about the Confederate flag, history month and what's-not...

Lying by omission is sill lying, and like a coward at that...
Bob McDonnell, take note...

Elie Mystal

Apr. 7 2010 - 9:12 am | 2,092 views | 2 recommendations | 15 comments

Virginia Doesn’t Know Much About Confederate History

Portrait of Gen. Robert E.
Image via Wikipedia

I’m a bit of a Civil War buff — which is to say that I needed to check off the “knows about war” box in the manship handbook and I picked this one. I’m no Shelby Foote (R.I.P.), but I’m conversant in most of the military and political history surrounding that war. Hey, it’s the war that (indirectly) set me free, and it’s easily the most interesting war America has ever been a part of.

I love and respect the history on both sides of the conflict. The Confederates fought with courage, pride, and tactical brilliance. Their fight is something to be remembered, something to be studied, something that deserves its place in the annals of American history.

It is not something to be proud of. Sorry Confederates (and modern sympathizers), you were on the wrong side. Not just on the wrong side of history, but also on the wrong side of morality. The often heroic deeds undertaken by Confederates on the battlefield were in furtherance of an evil cause. I repeat, an evil cause. Let’s not forget that Southern hero Robert E. Lee fought for a pro-slavery state. Sure, he seems to have been really uncomfortable with slavery, but when the chips were down he chose state over morality. Can we respect the man as arguably the best American general? Absolutely. Should we be proud that our greatest general chose the morally reprehensible side? No we should not. Love of country cannot and should not trump love of your fellow man. Unless you are an asshole. Lee, for all of his laudable qualities, failed the crucial moral test of his life. I respect him, but he was a dick. There’s a difference between respect and pride.
That difference is apparently lost on Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell…

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Soon on Airplane; Paying to go to the Loo

From Vanity Fair website comes a unbelievable story:

After bad peanuts, bad lilliputian seats and bad manners from a jaded workforce,
some airlines would like you to pay to go pee.
And Ryanair is actually beginning charging you as of right now.....


Ryanair Goes Forth with Pay-Per-Pee System

Discount airline Ryanair will begin charging passengers around $1.30 for bathroom use on flights shorter than one hour. The thought being that if passengers are discouraged from using the bathroom, there will be less of a demand for the bathroom, and therefore less of a supply will be necessary. Economics! Under the current plan, several restrooms will be replaced with seats, allowing the planes to fit six extra passengers but just one toilet for 189 antsy, thirsty people.

The small-bladdered are not the first victims of fiscally motivated airline discrimination: last year, several companies began charging overweight passengers for two tickets. (Director Kevin Smith was forcibly removed from a Southwest Airlines flight earlier this year after failing to do so. Angry Tweets, as they are wont to do, followed immediately after.) And just yesterday, the ironically named Spirit Airlines introduced a policy under which passengers must pay $45 for the great pleasure of jamming carry-ons in overhead bins.
Not even dead passengers can escape airlines' draconian rule: on Wednesday, two passengers tried to sneak the corpse of a 91 year-old man on-board an plane but were nonsensically forbidden. If you consider how few times the dead use the bathroom, and how unlikely it is they would require overhead storage, it's not the most financially sensible policy, is it?

Hurricane Katrina: Needing Help, Civilians were Shot by Police

From NewsOne website.

Cop Pleads Guilty To Covering Up Katrina Killings
By Casey Gane-McCalla April 8, 2010 10:36 am
NEW ORLEANS — A former New Orleans police officer told federal authorities he saw a fellow officer shoot and kick unarmed, wounded civilians in a deadly incident on a bridge in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, marking the first time an officer has provided federal authorities with an eyewitness account of the events.
The former officer, Michael Hunter, pleaded guilty Wednesday to helping cover up the shootings on the Danziger Bridge less than a week after the August 2005 storm.
A court filing Wednesday that describes Hunter’s account of the shootings contradicts a police report that said civilians shot at officers before the police opened fire, killing two people and wounding four others.
Seeing no danger to officers, Hunter says he shouted “Cease fire!” after an unidentified sergeant with an assault rifle and other officers opened fire on a group of unarmed civilians who took cover behind a concrete barrier on the bridge.
After they stopped firing, Hunter says he saw several civilians who appeared to be unarmed, injured and subdued.
“(The sergeant) suddenly leaned over the concrete barrier, held out his assault rifle, and, in a sweeping motion, fired repeatedly at the civilians lying wounded on the ground,” the filing says. “The civilians were not trying to escape and were not doing anything that could be perceived as a threat.
Moments later, Hunter saw two men later identified as Lance Madison and his 40-year-old mentally disabled brother, Ronald, running away near the bottom of the bridge.
Hunter’s statement said an unidentified officer shot Ronald Madison in the back with a shotgun.
“As Ronald Madison lay dying on the pavement, (the sergeant) ran down the bridge toward Ronald and asked an officer if Ronald was ‘one of them.’ When the officer replied in the affirmative, (the sergeant) began kicking or stomping Ronald Madison repeatedly with his foot,” the filing states.
Madison and James Brissette, 19, were killed by police.
U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance said Hunter participated in a “blatant and systematic perversion of justice” and shouldn’t be seen as a “hero” for taking responsibility.
“I don’t think you can listen to this account without being sickened by the raw brutality of the shootings and the craven lawlessness of the cover-up,” she said.
Hunter, 33, of Slidell, faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison following his guilty plea to one count of conspiring to obstruct justice and one count of misprision of a felony. His sentencing is scheduled for June 30.
Dr. Romell Madison, one of Ronald’s brothers, said he didn’t know that police kicked his dying brother until he heard a prosecutor read the filing aloud in court.
“The cruelty that my brothers had to endure and the other victims had to endure was heartbreaking,” he said.
Hunter’s attorney, Townsend M. Myers, said in an emailed statement that his client made “a series of very bad decisions related to what happened on the Danziger Bridge, and what he did in the aftermath of those events. He accepts full responsibility for his bad decisions, and for their consequences.”
Two other former officers have pleaded guilty to helping cover up the fact that police shot unarmed people.
Less than a week after the Aug. 29, 2005 hurricane, Hunter drove several officers in a rental truck to the Danziger Bridge, where police shot and killed two people and wounded four others. Hunter allegedly provided a false account of the shootings when he testified before a state grand jury in 2006.
Former Lt. Michael Lohmann and Jeffrey Lehrmann, a former detective, have pleaded guilty to participating in the cover-up, which included a planted gun, phony witnesses and falsified reports.
Ex-Cop Exposes Cover Up Of Katrina Killings

Maddow: Raw footage reveals O’Keefe lied about ACORN tapes

By David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 -- 12:08 pm

When conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles released tapes last fall purporting to show ACORN employees advising them on how to set up a child prostitution ring, it resulted in widespread praise for their intrepid journalism and a Congressional defunding of the anti-poverty group. But it is now becoming clear to all but their most fervent supporters that the O'Keefe "expose" was deliberately misleading.
"If you were a member of Congress and you voted to defund ACORN because of the outrage portrayed in these tapes," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow proclaimed on Tuesday, "you were had."
Last week, California Attorney Gerneral Jerry Brown released some of O'Keefe's raw footage, which he obtained as part of an agreement not to prosecute O'Keefe for violating state privacy laws. Maddow reviewed several of the most severe distortions revealed by the footage, starting with O'Keefe's claim that he was wearing his outrageous pimp outfit when he visited the ACORN offices.
That claim, which Brad Friedman at Brad Blog has been debunking for months, was promoted heavily by Fox News and swallowed uncritically by most of the mainstream media. The unedited tape of O'Keefe's visit to the ACORN office in San Diego, however, includes a shot of his arm as he opens the door to leave, and he is clearly wearing a nicely pinstriped dress shirt.
The edited video released by O'Keefe also appears to show an ACORN employee advising him on how to smuggle underage girls into the United States. O'Keefe is heard off-camera saying, "What things do you need from me in terms of the shipment information," and the employee replies, "It's better if it's in Tijuana ... because I have a lot of contacts in Tijuana." O'Keefe then goes on to say, "There's twelve of them. ... Twelve girls, they're like 13 to 15 years old."

But as Maddow pointed out, in the previously unreleased portion of the video, the employee continues asking very detailed questions about O'Keefe's phone number and the exact time and location of the girls' arrival. "What's this ACORN guy going to do with all that information?" Maddow wondered. "Oh, he calls the police and reports what they've told him is going to be a crime."
According to Jerry Brown's report (pdf), "Immediately after the couple left, Vera telephoned his cousin, Detective Alejandro Hernandez, at the National City Police Department... [and said] that a self-admitted prostitute had been to the office and was discussing human smuggling."
"For that he ended up getting fired," Maddow noted wryly.
A final O'Keefe tape appeared to show a different ACORN employee reacting to the child prostitution scheme by saying enthusiastically, "You can do anything. ... Don't give up."
But the unedited tape reveals that the encouraging words came after O'Keefe had told the employee that he and his prostitute girlfriend were having trouble finding a house because she is "in a unique line of work." Her "never give up" meant to keep trying different banks until one said yes.
"This is not meant to excuse what ACORN has done wrong in the past," Maddow concluded. "But the huge tide of negative publicity ... was bullpucky. It was a dishonest political stunt that bears no resemblance to journalism and no resemblance to the actual facts. "
"But it worked," she added. "Who do you think is next on their list?"
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast April 6, 2010.

That is What I Meant by You've Been Owned....

'Small government, helping the little man, bla bla bla...
Or do we bankrupt the nation so that they have no choice but to privatise EVERYTHING !
And leave the poor and ugly to rot as a bonus! Perfect plan, boys!'
- Republican Idealist

Thank you CleanTechnica.