Category: American Culture
We finally have our Kennedy Moment in the current political climate. Saturday, January 8th, 2011, is likely to go down as exactly that in the “Where were you when?” canon. On that day, Jared Lee Loughner, age 22, went on a shooting rampage at a supermarket parking lot in Tucson, Arizona, killing six people and [...]
Here’s how the German magazine/website Spiegel sees the decline of America:
The Tea Party, that group of white, older voters who claim that they want their country back, is angry. Fox News host Glenn Beck, a recovering alcoholic who likens Obama to Adolf Hitler, is angry. Beck doesn’t quite know what he wants to be — maybe a politician, maybe president, maybe a preacher — and he doesn’t know what he wants to do, either, or least he hasn’t come up with any specific ideas or plans. But he is full of hatred. And so is Dinesh D’Souza.
Indeed, the United States of 2010 is a hate-filled country . . .
This is the climate in the country leading up to the Congressional elections on Nov. 2. It isn’t shaped by logic or an interest in rational debate. The United States of 2010 is a country that has become paralyzed and inhibited by allowing itself to be distracted by things that are, in reality, not a threat: homosexuality, Mexicans, Democratic Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, health care reform and Obama. Large segments of the country are not even talking about the issues that are serious and complex, like debt, unemployment and serious educational deficits. Is it because this is all too threatening?
Beware of the graphics accompanying the article. These statistics on the United States economy are not for the faint of heart.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently touted a “One Million Dollar Grant” that St. Louis will soon receive for developing trails for bicycling and walking. I’ve long been a bicycle commuter and this new trail is truly a great idea. One million dollars is a lot of money. Too bad there’s not money for more of these infrastructure improvements, including bridge repairs and many things that are far more pressing than bicycle trails. Or at least this is what the politicians tell us.
In actuality, we’re pouring more than $2 billions dollars down the drain every week in Afghanistan. We have nothing to show for ten years of “progress” in Afghanistan. Our strategy mostly seems to consist of shooting at poor people who resent our presence in their county. And we’re committed to supporting a known corrupt leader. And we’re committed to overseeing a vast illegal drug trade. Our current “peace president” is likely keeping the troops over there for political reasons, not because there is any hope of accomplishing anything for Americans or the people of Afghanistan. Our imperialist adventure in Afghanistan is horrifically expensive, and its foundation is the “sunk costs fallacy.
How expensive is our “war” in Afghanistan in terms of the new St. Louis bicycle trail program? In Afghanistan, we burn through one million dollars every five minutes. It is a needless war that is making us poor.
[Here's the math: $2B per week equals almost 12 million per hour. Which equals $1 million every five minutes].
Think about it. One million dollars every five minutes to accomplish nothing but to provide make-work for the military-industrial complex. Could your community use one million dollars for anything these days? Perhaps to hire new teachers? Or to fix a collapsing bridge? Or to retrain workers?
A mere sculpture of a mere body part is obscene, according to authorities in Indiana. Listen to these victims, who appear to be scarred for life. I feel scarred for life merely by hearing about this display of a human body part.
I can understand those who think it is in bad taste. Terror Management Theory offers me an explanation for the extent of the outrage. And see here: “We are gods with anuses: another look at ‘terror management theory.’”
The air is still, holding now the beauty that was nascent in the sublime fury of yesterday‘s blizzard. It is seven in the morning, and I’m driving to town to get bread and eggs for Christmas breakfast.
The third convenience store I come to emerges from the pre-dawn darkness with its bright lights and full shelves, and it is open! The clerk behind the counter welcomes me warmly. I find eggs and bread, buy them and then head back to the car, but not without first thanking the clerk for working on Christmas Day. I remember her smile as I drive back home along the icy country roads.
This is the darkest time of the year, yet light emerges from the darkness and not just the neon brightness of a pre-dawn, convenience store sign. True light lies nascent in the smiles of friends, loving family and hard working convenience store clerks.
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Scanning the headlines today, I saw in my peripheral vision one announcing the latest list of inductees into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame. I’ve heard stories about the selection process, but haven’t paid much attention because I guess it’s most like the Wallaces’ (and Wallechinsky’s) Book(s) of Lists – based on opinion, not quantifiable metrics.
Just who is Darlene Love anyway? No matter. I don’t really care, but on a whim,I checked to see if my favorite group Rush is in. Nope. Conspicuous in their absence were also Kiss (I’d heard about that before).
I consider Rush to be the most talented trio in the history of rock music. Rumor has it that Jann Wenner doesn’t. Still, as opinionated and usually hermitlike as I am on music, I know I am not alone in my assessment (of Rush), plus I have multiple musicians in the family that agree with me. I’m not a fan of Kiss, but how are they any less influential than some of the others? Ah…Jann Wenner. True or not, both their absences make the Hall a joke because look at the list of past inductees.
In: Steely Dan ????? (Oh, the words I could not use in public to describe what I think of that!); David Bowie?;
James Taylor? Come on!
Not in: Boston(??!); Yes (???!!); B-52′s – Hello? Not Boston? Not Yes?
In: John Paul and George (no Ringo) are in it as individuals and as the Beatles; Metallica; Aerosmith; AC/DC – all no brainers
Not in: Kansas; Journey; Styx; Emerson, Lake and Palmer
In: Stevie Wonder – are you serious?; John Mellencamp ??; Buffalo Springfield ?; ABBA ???; Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel;
“It’s unfortunate,” says Scot McFadyen, …“We were hoping a lot more people in the [nominating] room had seen our documentary, and maybe that would have given them a different perspective on the band. But there are just some people that are holding out.”
As disappointing as Rush’s latest snub was, McFadyen wasn’t necessarily surprised. “They’ve never been a critics’ band. The industry people that are involved with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Rush has never been cool enough for them.”
I think Wenner and the Hall should adopt the slogan of another media entity that also isn’t: “Fair and balanced”
Last year, one list of snubs included Alice Cooper, who made the cut this time around. So who is missing in the Hall from your list?
Glenn Greenwald has been working around the clock to shed meaningful light on the media claims, many of them lies, regarding Wikileaks. Here’s Greenwald’s comment on the biggest and most common lie one hears these days:
Anyone listening to most media accounts would believe that WikiLeaks has indiscriminately published all 250,000 of the diplomatic cables it possesses, and Gitlin — in the course of denouncing Julian Assange — bolsters this falsehood: “Wikileaks’s huge data dump, including the names of agents and recent diplomatic cables, is indiscriminate” and Assange is “fighting for a world of total transparency.” The reality is the exact opposite — literally — of what Gitlin told TNR readers. WikiLeaks has posted to its website only 960 of the 251,297 diplomatic cables it has. Almost every one of these cables was first published by one of its newspaper partners which are disclosing them
Greenwald also exposes a corrupt frame being pushed by the media – that Wikileaks is perpetrating a massive injustice. This has it upside-down, according to Greenwald:
To recap “Obama justice”: if you create an illegal worldwide torture regime, illegally spy on Americans without warrants, abduct people with no legal authority, or invade and destroy another country based on false claims, then you are fully protected. But if you expose any of the evils secretly perpetrated as part of those lawless actions — by publishing the truth about what was done — then you are an Evil Criminal who deserves the harshest possible prosecution.
What are the government attacks on Wikileaks really about? Greenwald argues that these attacks on WikiLeaks constitute “a literal war over who controls the Internet and the purposes to which it can be used.” Western governments have made it clear that citizens cannot freely band together to launch honest and blistering criticism against their government. Without even being accused of any crime, western governments, led by the United States, have used extra-judicial means to take Wikipedia off the Internet. And see here. You can sense the government end game in your bones: The Internet will be for sports and entertainment, not for free-wheeling citizen journalism. In short, the U.S. government will use its massive power to make sure that the Internet becomes just like most newspapers and radio and television stations. Don’t you dare tell citizens that we are pumping out an unrelenting stream of lies! Don’t you dare tell them that we are killing twice twice as many civilians as we are admitting! Don’t tell them that we are spilling blood and treasure to prop up corrupt leaders. Go back to your sports events, soap operas and so-called reality shows!
Greenwald also points out the hypocrisy of the mainstream media:
Journalists cheering for the prosecution of Assange are laying the foundation for the criminalization of their own profession, or at least of the few who actually do investigative journalism. There is simply no coherent way to argue that what WikiLeaks did with these cables is criminal, but what the NYT, the Guardian and other papers did is not.
In conclusion, Greenwald mentions that the U.S. Department of State is purportedly preparing to celebrates “World Press Freedom Day.