Archive: August, 2011
It's somewhat appalling that a fairly childish flap over when Obama will address Congress about jobs (employment, not Steve) is the lead story on NYTimes.com and elsewhere. For what it's worth, this will be a useless political Rorschach test for all those who spin it; liberals will obsess on Congress dissing Obama, and conservatives will obsess on Obama dissing Nancy Reagan, or whatever. The only reason I'm even mentioning here is the play this flap is getting demonstrates the complete and utter vapidity of our political journalism, and that was the subject of a very worthwhile speech given the other day by one of the best media critics around, Jay Rosen of NYU.
Here's one snippet, although I highly recommend reading the entire thing:
An important story, must-read story over at Rolling Stone:
As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. "What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century," says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.
Two knowledgeable sources tell City Paper that former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman ran a School District communications team dedicated to promoting and defending her personally, and which coordinated and assisted public rallies in her favor, communicated regularly with private supporters, and spent taxpayer time and money on various kinds of "propaganda," including protest signs and a farewell tribute video. Since Ackerman's departure after negotiating a nearly $1 million buy-out of her contract, one source says the same team continues to manage Ackerman's antagonistic public relations campaign against Mayor Michael Nutter and others.
Mitt Romney -- suddenly down by more than double digits -- "went after" new GOP presidential frontrunner Rick Perry today. Perry's a longtime state official in Texas, governor for the last 11 years, while Romney's most recently been in the home improvement field. So did Romney attack Perry for his anti-science know-nothingism, or his Texas-sized political cronyism?
Last night I found myself listening to 1210 on the way home -- I always find that having your blood boil helps prevent you from falling asleep late at night -- and the host was this guy Rich Zeoli, going off about climate change. Ironically, I totally agreed with one of his micro-points -- that Al Gore is way, way off base in comparing climate change deniers to racists -- and mostly agreed with the second, about global warming and hurricanes. That is, there's indeed no reason to believe that global warming causes more hurricanes, although unlike Zeoli I think it is possible that global warming makes the hurricanes that we do get more powerful; after all, one key factor in hurricane strength is ocean temperature, and ocean temperatures have been rising, quite likely from global warming. Still, it's hard to nail down because there are other factors that make hurricanes stronger or weaker.
This was written in 2005 but I think it's on the money:
Was Irene overhyped? The answer may depend ultimately on where you live. If you live near Wall Street or inside the Beltway, where the denizens suffered few serious consequences (funny how that always happens), then the answer is probably "Yes." If you live in a small New England mill town already pummelled by Hurricane Death of U.S. Manufacturing, and are now watching cars float past (see below) then the answer is probably "No."
Unlike Michele Bachmann, I don't know if Irene was sent by a higher power -- probably not -- but she (Irene, I mean, not Michele) has an amazing sense of metaphor, saving Wall Street and wiping out Main Street, yet again.
Rick Perry's God, who on Aug. 28, 2010, blessed Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally with bright sunshine, sent his soggy messinger Irene to smite the Aug. 28, 2010, dedication of a Martin Luther King monument on the National Mall. No worries. As Cornel West reminds us, Dr. King wouldn't have wanted an inanimate granite figure to be his legacy, anyway:
King weeps from his grave. He never confused substance with symbolism. He never conflated a flesh and blood sacrifice with a stone and mortar edifice. We rightly celebrate his substance and sacrifice because he loved us all so deeply. Let us not remain satisfied with symbolism because we too often fear the challenge he embraced. Our greatest writer, Herman Melville, who spent his life in love with America even as he was our most fierce critic of the myth of American exceptionalism, noted, “Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges; hence the conclusion of such a narration is apt to be less finished than an architectural finial.”
Wow. Hurricane Irene -- or maybe Tropical Storm Irene to any New Yorkers reading this -- hasn't hit the Northeast yet. But already -- and yes, I'm mixing my catastrophe metaphors here -- the fallout has begun. News that the sustained winds of what some have billed as "the storm of the century" or "the East Coast's Katrina" have already dipped below 100 mph before the storm even makes its first landfall in North Carolina have sparked what you might call Friday Night Quarterbacking.
Consider what one expert wrote tonight: