Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why there is no hope, September 12th 2007 Edition

There's a man whose name you need to know: James Howard Kunstler.

Mr. Kunstler writes, and writes very clearly and articulately, about economics, architecture, suburban sprawl and some kind of liberal nonsense called "peak oil" in a blog called "Clusterfuck Nation". (That's clusterfuck as in "very bad turn of events", not as in "group sex".) From the biography on his site:

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, "Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.""

One of Mr. Kunstler's frequently-made points is that we are as a nation headed for what the elder George Bush once referred to as "deep doo-doo". His exquisitely no-nonsense essays on our culture, our politics and especially our economy, delivered at the rate of one every Monday, are all worthwhile reading for anyone who suspects that things are a bit different than what we see on the news and that maybe we just might not be living in the Best of All Possible Worlds®. One in particular, written just two years ago, had a significant impact upon me me, kind of like a two-by-four upside the head. It is this one. Check out this excerpt:

Americans were once a brave and forward-looking people, willing to face the facts, willing to work hard, to acknowledge the common good and contribute to it, willing to make difficult choices. We've become a nation of overfed clowns and crybabies, afraid of the truth, indifferent to the common good, hardly even a common culture, selfish, belligerent, narcissistic whiners seeking every means possible to live outside a reality-based community.

These are the consequences of a value system that puts comfort, convenience, and leisure above all other considerations. These are not enough to hold a civilization together. We've signed off on all other values since the end of World War Two. Our great victory over manifest evil half a century ago was such a triumph that we have effectively - and incrementally - excused ourselves from all other duties, obligations and responsibilities.

Which is exactly why we have come to refer to ourselves as consumers. That's what we call ourselves on TV, in the newspapers, in the legislatures. Consumers. What a degrading label for people who used to be citizens."

Is this guy on the mark, or full of beans? Why not read the rest of it, and his other essays, and see what you think?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Operation Coffeecup

A conservative web site has posted this rather interesting artifact from very early on in the universal health-care debate. This recording was distributed by the American Medical Association to members of its Women's Auxiliary in the early 1960's.

Click this link, have a look at the record's liner notes, and give it a listen.

NOTE: For those who might be tempted to say certain things in certain web sites' comment sections, just remember, rational arguments accomplish a lot more than flame wars.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Who is the next Murrow, the next Cronkite?

In a news media dominated by rah-rah cheerleaders for the administration and its policies, there is at least one newsman of the old school, someone for whom facts carry some weight. Someone who definitely calls a spade a shovel.

I just don't get how this guy has held up against Hannity, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, etc. ad nauseum for so long. In the face of Faux News and Coulterama, this guy carries on much as Murrow would have if he were alive today. Not bad for someone who's nominally a sports commentator.

Carry on, Mr. Olbermann! You do us all proud!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Don't laugh too hard ...

A moralistic radical-right-wing blowhard gets nabbed in an airport john doing exactly the sort of thing he publicly rails against. Bastard had it coming, right? Well unfortunately, it's not that simple.

According to this story, Senator Larry ("I'm not gay") Craig got busted not for openly soliciting sex for money as another member of Congress did, but for taking certain cryptic actions known primarily to gay men experienced at crusing. Apparently he neither did nor said anything openly sexual. Seems the undercover cops who busted him didn't know he was a prominent family-values Republican senator. They took him down because he was - a gay man cruising a public bathroom.

Like a lot of you, I enjoyed seeing this man, and others like him, getting exposed for the hypocrites that they are and receiving a generous dose of their own bad medicine. What I didn't like so much is the idea of authorities randomly victimizing gay people because - well, just because.

Knowingly arresting and criminalizing people who haven't actually violated the law is a frontal assault upon the rule of law itself. Why don't we put a halt to this kind of official misconduct before the Supreme Court upholds it?