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Posts Tagged ‘links’

Egypt and Links

Just watched Mubarak’s speech live on CNN. I’m not well-versed enough to know what the implications are here, but it felt pretty weird. Firing the whole government except himself (or as he put it, “resignations”)? Pretty sure he’s missing the point (“The Egyptian People Hate You” chants seem crystal clear). Is anyone else thinking of the Iran protests in the summer of 2009, and feeling worried that this whole thing will just fade away? Many of the issues changing the dissatisfaction into real protest in Egypt are issues everywhere, and I don’t think the powers that be are willing to see or allow any meaningful change.

The Guardian is streaming live updates, and I like them. Uh, The Guardian, I mean. Speaking of which, I always read whatever Robert Fisk has to say during events like these in the Middle East. I continue to (mostly) like the man, and his book The Great War for Civilisation remains one of the best things I have read, ever.

Aaron Bady has news and commentary about events in the Middle East as well, and as usual, it’s excellent and informative. Also, check out his current reading list – lots of interesting Middle Eastern fiction – by women. He also linked over to The Angry Arab, whose posts I’m finding great. The Agonist has also been a good place for following things, with short but helpful commentary.

Also, I’m flying outta Baltimore and driving with a buddy from Austin to Phoenix next week. Obviously not excited to step into the state of Arizona whatsoever, but since I was an impressionable little girl and watched Christian Bale in Newsies (c’mon, unions!) I’ve been longing to go to Santa Fe. Not quite enough to do a song-and-dance in the street, but still. So I was distressed to read about the crazies in the government over there. The world feels pretty nuts all around these days.

And if that’s not enough to make you want to throw up all over yourself, read this! Wonderful. The sheer evilness, the sheer stupidity of the Republicans boggles my mind. These guys are just a few nudges away from starting “pro-rape” campaigns. Love the zygotes, hate welfare moms. I don’t know anymore.

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I haven’t updated in a while. I’ve been working hard, but my upcoming unemployment may change the rate of posts around here. It’s hard to gather up the energy to post, though, when so many people already are doing good stuff. I could just blog links. Oh well, onwards…

This essay about Julian Assange is easily the best thing I’ve read about Wikileaks since they’ve come to my attention (I probably shouldn’t conflate Assange and Wikileaks, but so it goes). Reading Assange’s own intentions in addition to zunguzungu’s breakdown-within-the-larger-context made me more enthusiastic about Wikileaks than I already was, and I’m all about open information networks.

There’s only a few more hours left to contact the EPA about stopping mountaintop removal. Please do it.

That’s about it.

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Links!

Whenever I think Goldman Sachs can’t be any more sick and cruel and horrible, I’m proven wrong.

“…through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into ‘derivatives’ that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in “food speculation” was born.”

My God, what is happening in Mexico?

“Nearly 50 candidates and public figures have been assassinated in the run up to Mexico’s 2010 state elections. Former presidential candidate Diego Fernández de Cevallos, major leader of the ruling PAN party, was kidnapped on May 16 and has not been heard from since. Three days ago, Rodolfo Torre, the odds on winner for governor in the state of Tamaulipas, was murdered in a highway ambush. Torre’s murder represents the highest ranking politician of the 50 assassinations this election cycle.”

Here’s another environmental problem finally getting some attention: air conditioning. Can I just say how delightful I find Seattle to be? For a few days I can forget the horrible heatwaves in Washington DC, and enjoy this weather which is cool and normal and pleasant. They’re really just going to have to stop talking about heatwaves, by the way. Now it’s just the way the weather is, with brief respites of coolness.

Overall, I just don’t really know how I feel about the human race.

But I am in love with Seattle, and I am also sort of wild about Judith Jones and her Cooking for One blog right now. She won me at gooseberries.

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Sunday Links

Here are some good things I read, though the goodness of all things, even enormous amounts of beautiful snow, is severely diminished by the Saints losing to They-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

I understand the importance of passing this bill. I also still feel it is a bad bill, not just in what isn’t there, but what is actively there. Yes, I think there are people criticizing it because of their frustration with nearly every aspect of our political situation and the crises facing us, and they are taking some of that anger out on this bill. I think that attacking that frustration as naive, futile, and unrealistic is an elitist, technocratic way of dismissing legitimate concerns. I think there are also people criticizing this bill because they have looked at it for a long time and they find this bill does some specifically harmful things. They are not angry with the bill because they are frustrated with the President or the disdain shown to progressives: they are angry with the bill because they sincerely think it is a bad bill. And they make a real case for that point of view.

As for myself, I don’t really know. The things I don’t like about it bother me immensely, and all the discussion of subsidies and political realities and reducing the deficit… it sounds fine and mature, but what sounds like a reasonable attempt to compromise and get something, anything, might not necessarily translate to that other reality: people’s lives. Millions of people who aren’t wonks or technocrats, who get their news from chatting with their neighbors and form their opinions based upon how well the ideas of the elites function on the ground… they might be hit pretty hard by this. That being said, maybe all the defenses of this bill are accurate. Perhaps it is the right thing to do, even if it’s not the best thing, and perhaps some significant good will come out of it.  I can’t be sure.

That being said, now, here was an excellent post by Digby that once again presented a very rational explanation of why some of us feel this bill has major flaws and might do more harm than good:

On the practical political level, I think that rather than being thrilled they are “getting health care” many uninsured people are going to be very disappointed to find that the “benefit” is that they are going to be required to buy something — especially from companies they don’t like or trust. And even if they get subsidies, it’s still going to be expensive by the standards of people who make between 30 and 60k a year. Suddenly requiring healthy people to come up with a few hundred dollars a month to pay Aetna isn’t really mitigated by the argument that it would have been more before the reforms. I realize that’s how mandates work but I don’t think people are being adequately prepared for that reality…

“As for the internecine politics, there were numerous graceful concessions from the left from the beginning on health care that were not exactly easy to make, from single payer to the abortion language to immigrants. But it was the late dangling of a swap on the long held dream of a medicare buy-in, getting liberals to sign on and then allowing the loathed Lieberman, of all people, to capriciously snatch it away that was the real gut punch. And admonishing them to “get with the program” within minutes of that outrage while Lieberman preened that the president thanked him was gratuitous. Lucy and the football is an overused metaphor, but this was a classic. You’d have to be soulless not to be angry about that.”

Then Ian Welsh had a link to this, which I appreciated very much:

I’m struck, in reading the support for the disastrous Senate “health” “care” bill, how much it depends on the idea than an improvement on the average level of US health care is acceptable, even though it means that huge numbers of people will be ruined, and some will die. And I think I’m starting to see a pattern: among liberals the academics and the people with secure jobs support it (even Krugman, sigh), and the people like Ian Welsh who’ve actually been poor, or who know people who’ve been poor, oppose it. It’s easy, when dealing with numbers, to forget that each click on the counter signifies a whole life: hopes and fears and dreams. I want us to remember.

Finally, while I refuse to let myself even pretend to hope that the public option could return, I think this is pretty interesting nonetheless. I wouldn’t have dreamed that I could say this a month ago, but at this point I too would rather have Stupak and a public option instead of what we currently have:

Abortion rights can’t be considered outside of the larger framework of health care, economic issues, and women’s overall needs.  And women need affordable health care, not just affordable abortions.  We need both, of course.  But your average woman has a lot more and more expensive health care needs than abortion, and we can’t forget that moving forward.

So after a long week of being bummed about healthcare, Copenhagen, rising unemployment, and the Saints losing, I am now going to watch football all day. The Redskins don’t play till tomorrow and the Saints game is over, so now there is just the happy bliss of watching people frantically charge into one another amid drifts of snow on the sidelines.

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Man, that Stupak amendment, and all those Democrats who voted for it… kinda makes me not crazy about, you know, dudes. And moderate (i.e. sexist) Dems. So I have complied a list of rants I have seen in various places around the internet. It doesn’t make me feel better, but it does make me feel like I’m not the only one sputtering and shaking my fist.

This post at Shakesville, written by quixote, is the most articulate thing I’ve seen in some time on why women’s rights are everyone’s rights; and if women don’t have personal autonomy, then no one does. A particularly good excerpt:

I’ll repeat: personhood is necessarily a matter of belief, whether that’s based on religion or social consensus.

Therefore those who oppose abortion because they believe the fetus is a person with special status have to hope they are never successful in legislating how others handle their pregnancies. If they are, it means that exceptions could be made to the right to control one’s own person.

Once that principle is admitted, then there is nothing to stop a majority with different beliefs from legislating forced abortions.

Over-population is, after all, the source of the environmental problems killing the planet.

There is nothing to stop an aging population from requisitioning a kidney from healthy people walking around with a spare.

There is nothing to stop doctors from performing medical experiments on you for the public good.

There is nothing to stop the majority from deciding all those old folks are too expensive to live.

Really. Nothing. Once you take away the right to control your own body.

Extreme? Sure. So why is it okay when applied to women?”

Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon does an excellent job of pointing out that the misogynists who gave us this amendment won’t be satisfied with just limiting abortion access. There is no compromise, no middle ground with people determined to tell you what to do with your own body.

Digby at Hullabaloo reminds us that we really need more women in Congress. Also, maybe we need a female president, since Obama really doesn’t give a shit:

Apparently Obama called congressional Reps personally and told them to ‘work it out’ on abortion but he never weighed in on his own preferences, thereby letting everyone know that he really didn’t give [a] shit.”

Now, I’m gonna go look and see if there’s a way to just get thousands of women to stand on Capitol Hill until Congress and the Senate feel like acknowledging 50% of this country.

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The current health care fiasco makes me sad, and I find it hard to write anything. But other people are much more awesome, and I must declare this somehow.

I find this post on libertarianism from Tristero at Hullabaloo ridiculously spot on. Especially this:

As a moral philosophy, by failing to recognize an indisputable physical and ethical reality – namely, that the conflict between the one and the many is primary – libertarianism is all but useless. As a political philosophy, especially when it comes to issues affecting the “rights of businesses”, libertarianism is often deeply immoral, providing flimsy rationales for destructive acquisition, thievery, fraud, and greed – typically, and ironically, in the service of the largest corporations, not individuals. When political libertarianism does pursue goals worthwhile to the individual and to society – eg, in calling for the end of sodomy laws – they add no arguments to the debate that liberals and progressives haven’t already expressed.”

I am also loving this from Tiger Beatdown, a blog I started reading maybe a month or two ago. This part was fucking incredible:

Bad news, though: to remedy this, we would actually have to adopt a system of aesthetics that values content over cultural positioning, and a system of rebellion that values resistance to power over nihilistic, self-indulgent acceptance of it. And that is just so out of style.”

Seriously, that is one of the best things I’ve read in ages.

Also, my love for Barbara Ehrenreich continues unabated.

My love for Bob Herbert is also passionate and true. He speaks the truth and breaks my heart.

I wrote, at the time, that there would have been thunderous outrage if someone had separated potential victims by race or religion and then shot, say, only the blacks, or only the whites, or only the Jews. But if you shoot only the girls or only the women — not so much of an uproar…We profess to being shocked at one or another of these outlandish crimes, but the shock wears off quickly in an environment in which the rape, murder and humiliation of females is not only a staple of the news, but an important cornerstone of the nation’s entertainment.”

Thanks to writers like the above, my belief in the goodness and common sense inherent in human beings survives to be bruised another day. Yeah!!

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The world, and more specifically American politics, do not give much cause for optimism most days. In order to not turn into a bitter angry shell of a human being, I spend a lot of time thinking about shit which doesn’t inspire feelings of impending doom. Instead of waking up and saying, “Oh, isn’t it depressing that The Post still has George Will writing for them. Oh, how unsurprising that all the Hummers are back on the roads now that gas prices have temporarily gone down. Oh, and isn’t it frustrating that nothing is being done about the environmental/social/financial crises…” No, this shall not do! I prefer a different attitude: “We mustn’t dwell. No, not today. We can’t. Not on Rex Manning Day!” While I think about shitty things, and try to do what I can about them when possible, it’s important to focus also on that which gives cause for hope. It helps to remember that other people are out there doing way more good than me, so there’s no excuse to not jump in and do what we can.

But not now. I would like to take some time to indulge the despair and cynicism this morning’s examination of our heartbreaking world has inspired in me. For the rest of this post I take the position that we shall all perish and all is lost. Joy and adoration to be resumed at a later time.

Exhibit A: Michael Jackson died four days ago. Fucking CNN’s headline article is still about Michael Jackson. I hate to break it to you, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper, but Michael Jackson was a sad, lonely man whose life had value to the public based solely on his ability to entertain them. He wasn’t the  first person to be given too much fame, too much money, too much permissiveness and too much pressure, and he won’t be the last. This sick obsession with celebrity has got to be curtailed, especially since so much else is going on right now of major importance. Such as:

Exhibit B: Honduras had themselves a coup. Personally, when I hear about governments getting overthrown in Latin America by the military I tend to get a little antsy. I get more nutty when the new leader of said country gives a speech praising democracy.

Exhibit C: In the midst of an environmental crisis, crisis meaning a threat to not only our way of life but our ability to sustain human life on this planet, we lucky Americans are getting a fantastically watered down bill from Congress that will really not be of so much help! We also get the treat of ever-helpful Fox not -so-subtly insinuating that Congress and Nancy Pelosi are engaged in some sort of treason due to said bill! This is fucked up for more than one reason, and I’m pissed off about this enough to list them.

1) After calling people who were reasonably critical of George Bush and the war in Iraq “unpatriotic” and worse, after spying on them, after endless harassment… these same people are completely willing to accuse other elected leaders of “treason”…for dealing with the issues they were elected to … my, God… deal with. Right.

2) After acts of domestic terrorism in Knoxville, Pittsburgh, Kansas, and DC, which all involved right-wing men influenced by insidious eliminationist talk, Fox still thinks it’s a good idea to put up pictures of Nancy Pelosi with the word “treason.” Thank you, fellas.

3) Oh, Fox, I did not realize you were so concerned about the industrial base of America!! Does this mean you would like to put some restrictions on multinational corporations which outsource their jobs, thus crippling our domestic manufacturing base? Are you ready to support unions which protect the legal rights of our industrial workers?? I, too, would like to do some of these things. Silly me, I didn’t realize we were allies all this time! except:

4) As much as I value protecting the jobs of workers in difficult industrial jobs, some of our industries are hurting the planet. Like, for real. It sucks, Fox, I mean, it was really great of you to start thinking of protecting American workers, but protecting an industry which is engaged in rampant destruction isn’t really a great idea. It might be better to create jobs for those workers which did not imply, you know, pillaging the Earth.

5) But of even more importance, I have to let you know that this bill is not an attack on workers. It’s a grown-up way of dealing with childish, petulant corporate elites who have refused to make the slightest bit of change to their industry in order to maximize their profits. They have had every opportunity to make some changes on their own. They were presented time and again with the evidence of how their practices are rapidly destroying parts of our planet. They did not care. This bill is not intended to hurt workers, but to force their employers to adhere to some minimum standards. When I say minimum, I mean minimum. And Fox, your inability to show even the slightest bit of interest in the future, your refusal to accept that there is a day after tomorrow and a generation after our own… it’s severely discouraging. You make me want to weep into a blueberry pie.

Exhibit D: Of all the Supreme Court decisions being handed down this week, I am probably the least knowledgeable about Ricci v. Destefano. As a supporter of affirmative action, I must also acknowledge there are individual situations which are unfair. I suspect this may have been one, but I am just not qualified in getting into a debate which is, quite frankly, out of my league. I also am loathe to ally myself with a group which includes Clarence Thomas or John Roberts. What I do feel capable of chirping in on is not the specifics, but how this decision may affect us in a more general sense. I am so protective of the good that affirmative action has done, and of how much more needs to be done, and I am worried about how strong the wave of sentiment is against affirmative action. I am afraid this decision may be used in such a way which will cripple affirmative action programs and strengthen the support for those who would dismantle them. More so, I am concerned that Sonia Sotomayor, who was obligated by binding precedent to rule as she did when the case came before the 2nd Circuit, will be the target of even more warped right-wing attacks. The initial criticisms of her were so absurd, sexist, and racist that I just can’t read about it anymore. This country is not ready for a serious talk about race, class, gender, or sexuality, but this country is entirely ready for white men to attack people as playing the victim while… playing the victim (and get away with the contradiction). Oh Despair, your name is I.

Exhibit E: Obama. Seriously. Listen, I know Congress is a wreck. I know our legislative process is failing us utterly. It needs an overhaul, but we will not get it. But I need you to not go down the same path as George Bush. I shouldn’t be surprised, and I’m not really, but this is just so disappointing. Because as much as you spoke about change, you don’t want to give it to us. None of you do. You don’t want to really worry about what happens later.  You continue to make bipartisanship your idol, to make half-measures and baby-steps your hallmark. I understand why. It’s worked in the past. Sometimes you can keep the wolf at bay, but not forever. I hate to say it again, but the environmental crisis doesn’t care about your legacy or how you look in the eyes of Republicans. It doesn’t care about negotiations and compromises and if big business is okay with things. Capitalism was supposed to be about putting self-interest first. Our self-interest now lies with having healthy citizens and a healthy planet. So when you said “change!” did you really mean it? Or did you just mean finding a way to create little islands of security for the wealthy and letting the rest of humanity fend for ourselves? I believe you have good intentions, really I do. But I also believe that you, like so many West Wing-devotees and Beltway Insiders, are utterly insulated from the real-world results of your half-measures. I believe that if you circumvent Congress and continue to enhance your executive power that you make it that much easier for a more ambitious individual down the road to go all Augustus on us. Deal with problem of legislating, but don’t give up on it. Don’t take more power for yourself, don’t rationalize behaving as Bush did. Please.

Exhibit F: I kinda have always had massive disdain for people obsessed with economic models and talk of GDP. This is because I usually find them totally dismissive of the needs of real people, and also lacking in all common sense. I get tired of hearing endless talk about what works for the economy. What about what works for people? I will talk about this more at another time. I only mention this because that is why I enormously appreciated this post by Nate Silver. I hope someone is paying him for his work.

Exhibit G: I first thought about starting my own blog during the unending campaign of 2008. I was able to restrain myself because I knew exactly what said blog would resemble: immense despair, ramblings consisting of pleas, curses, frantic prayers to the heavens, weeping, and an increasingly incoherent panic which would suggest the need for something resembling WaitMate (I love you, Tim and Eric) after Sarah Palin’s nomination for VP. Ah, lucky those days are in the past! Now, I can sit and look back: with regret. Regret, regret that there was the possibility of anything like this being true about the candidate with the best political ideas and the most incredible stupidity and disloyalty towards his family, as well as his supporters (thanks for using that money we donated to let your mistress make shitty videos asshole! if there’s a sex tape I swear to God, that better have come out of your own pocketbook). I can also regret that though we can never know what a Hillary presidency would have been like (and I really don’t think it would be much better), I still feel in some deep part of my soul that she would have been delighted to tell republicans to Suck It. I just feel bipartisanship is not the idol for her that it is for Obama, and she would be pushing for a public option right now so much more vocally and vehemently. I also feel she could not possibly be worse for the gay community than Obama has been.

The country is ready (yeah Iowa!) and who cares about who isn’t because this is about civil rights. I am frustrated that in this country, a country whose infrastructure is falling apart and is in the midst of several crises, we are debating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Are you fucking kidding me? Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a ridiculous and shitty policy which needs to be repealed right now so that we can start solving the shit that cannot wait. I cannot hear one more word about Miss California-whoever. I cannot listen to anymore talk about Prop 8 or if the country is entirely ready for gay marriage. This is a travesty. I don’t care who is ready and I don’t care who isn’t just like I would hope Obama wouldn’t have tolerated such shit standing in the way of his parent’s marriage. Stop being insane and give the gay community their basic fucking rights because it’s so obvious how wrong and inane your defense of the horrible Defense of Marriage Act was. You have to do this so that we can talk about how we are all going to die because health insurance companies do not help sick people and unemployment is still climbing and the planet is warming and our use of torture may not mean death for me but it is so horribly wrong and why can there not be some sort of basic justice and accountability for that kind of evil and  obesity is climbing and animals are being mutated and their miserable lives are filling the poor Chesapeake with chicken shit and why are gay people not allowed to get drunk wtf and our pathetic justice system still refuses to deal with a man who is very likely innocent (let alone the fact that the death penalty is inherently wrong and fucked-up no matter what) and Iran is apparently having some sort of military coup and these are some obviously pressing issues and maybe someone should take Ezra Klein’s analysis on the grander scheme of things seriously so we can stop having our government fail cos, you know, maybe it’s time to really fix some of these things??

… Of course not, silly me. Oh well. I accept this. We shall all perish in flames. But I must not leave you all in complete despair. Not today, not while there is such a thing as true love left in this world. Not while there is something to warm the cockles of our bitter hearts. I am referring, of course, to my new love:

Mark Sanford’s press conference.

My Own Guilty Love

My Own Guilty Love

Not Mark Sanford. No, he’s an asshole who is in the midst of a nervous breakdown and needs to resign. But his press conference… that press conference. Mark Sanford showed me Love is Real. I am not referring to his love for Maria or his wife, of course. I am referring to his love for the Appalachian Trail and Tom Davis. This is why all the above shit has pissed me off. It is just taking up too much space in our national discourse. I really really need to spend some more time on this.

Why can’t I just have a few more days to enjoy the fact that a Republican politician was so incoherent and fumbling that I actually empathized with him? Is it so wrong to want a bit more time to focus on how he was such a spontaneous mess of self-indulgence and sorrow, on the way he gave the public a press conference which was actually less polished or controlled than Sarah Palin’s Katie Couric interviews? I realize enjoying it’s sweet inanity is the antithesis of the craving for sanity in our public political discourse that I expressed above. But every time I think about this current state of affairs I find myself longing for that simple time of last week when a man named Mark Sanford was twenty minutes late to his own press conference. I think about how he wept his way through it, called a man with the joyous name Cubby Colbertson a “spiritual giant”, thanked all the Tom Davises of the world multiple times, referenced Jurassic Park, evoked (in spirit though not literally) Evita… and made me cringe and want to leap onstage and create an escape path for such a wreck. Poor, poor man. But I thank you for having been such a complete dick of a politician in the past that I was able to smile at your incoherence as much as did the hilarious young woman behind you. I thank you for being such a non-threatening disaster that I could guiltily enjoy your shenanigans and put off thinking about our health insurance crisis for a little while. Thank you, Mark Sanford.

And thank you, Tom Davis.

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