Monday, September 24, 2012

Links / Open Thread

Holy Ratched! Chris Hedges likens the two presidential candidates to nasty nurses forcing noxious medicine down our throats in behalf of Austerity Asylum, Inc. He tells us how we are doomed in his uniquely brilliant way -- profound depression is countered with a healthy dose of anger. Like Randle McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" we won't stop fighting until the lobotomizer strikes. From the latest Hedges column:

You are, by playing your assigned role as the Democratic or Republican voter in this political theater, giving legitimacy to a corporate agenda that means your own impoverishment and disempowerment. All the things that stand between us and utter destitution—Medicaid, food stamps, Pell grants, Head Start, Social Security, public education, federal grants-in-aid to America’s states and cities, the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program (WIC), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and home-delivered meals for seniors—are about to be shredded by the corporate state. Our corporate oligarchs are harvesting the nation, grabbing as much as they can, as fast as they can, in the inevitable descent.

And tough luck, maybe, for all the disappointed consumers who didn't score the new iPhone before they ran out. The wage slaves at Foxconn have finally had enough and rioted. The Chinese plant has been shut down. A company spokesman said only certain components of the the iPhone were made at the smashed up factory. Maybe the map components that cheerfully misdirect users looking for directions and show crumbling infrastructure instead of shiny new buildings?

Despite what President Obama likes to brag about, the mortgage industry and the banks have not been reined in. Elderly homeowners are being disproportionately foreclosed on by predatory lenders. These are people who have lived in their homes for decades and always worked hard and played by the rules and deserve a fair shot at a better couple of tomorrows. These are the people, the president assured us, that would be helped by his housing program. The question remains -- what housing program?

Voting fraud is a fraud perpetrated by the fraudsters who are backing the Republican candidates. "In a close election" writes Elizabeth Drew in the New York Review of Books, "the Republican plan could call into question the legitimacy of the next president. An election conducted on this basis could lead to turbulence on election day and possibly an extended period of lawsuits contesting the outcome in various states. Bush v. Gore would seem to have been a pleasant summer afternoon. The fact that their party’s nominee is currently stumbling about, his candidacy widely deemed to be in crisis mode, hasn’t lessened their determination to prevent as many Democratic supporters as they can from voting in November."

This begs the question -- if, as Drew writes, the voter ID scandal is "worse than Watergate", where is the Obama Justice Dept? Oh, I forgot. They're busy not prosecuting banksters and defending indefinite detention.


4Runner said...

The DOJ will soon be very busy. They will be assigned the duty of monitoring all melting icebergs. It will be re-named the Department of Just Ice.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Good Neighbour Canada looks on in disbelief as the USA self-destructs.

Denis Neville said...

“A Squirrel Dying In Your Front Yard May Be More Relevant To Your Interests Right Now Than People Dying In Africa.”

“As more and more people discover news and content through Facebook-like personalized feeds, the stuff that really matters falls out of the picture. In the Darwinian environment of the hyper-relevant news feed, content about issues like homelessness or climate change can’t compete with goofy viral videos, celebrity news, and kittens. The public sphere falls out of view. And that matters, because while we can lose sight of our common problems, they don’t lose sight of us.” - Eli Pariser

Invisible algorithmic editing on the web directs us to more of what algorithms think we want to see and less of what we need to see.

Eli Pariser, author of “The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You,” is alarmed like Neil Postman, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.

“Focusing on the most personally relevant news - the squirrel - is a great business strategy. But it leaves us staring at our front yard instead of reading about suffering, genocide and revolution. There is no algorithmic equivalent to journalistic ethics.”

10 Ways to Pop Your Filter Bubble

Pearl said...

Democracy is frayed at the edges here in Canada with Prime Minister Harper not representing the will of the people. Kimberly Rivera, the first female Iraq war veteran to seek refuge in Canada, was denied asylum here thanks to Harper and his ilk, who feel she deserves what she will receive in the U.S. where she has just been forced to return to. She has a husband and 4 young children and may be detained for up to 5 years in prison. As she stated, "I am forced to destroy my family because I refused to do so to another family in Iraq."

The New Democratic Party here fought hard to support her appeal for amnesty and they are now gearing up to lock horns with Harper who is a clone of Bush. Let us hope that they use this issue among others to force an earlier election than 3 years from now. A very sad story.

Valerie said...

I'm with Chris Hedges. Our vote isn't going to affect the outcome - but it would show that we aren't going to be participants in this farcical election if we were to throw our vote to a Third Party candidate.

Yes, Pearl, I had heard that Canada was going the way of the U.S. with Bush-like politicians. I figured something was up with the whole Tar Sands drilling. At least you still have a relatively free press and it sounds like a viable political party, if supporting the Iraqi veteran is anything to go on. God bless the parliamentary system!

I read the comments on Jay’s thread and was saddened to hear the same old arguments that manufacturing in Canada was gone because the unions demanded too much money – some exaggerated amount – and how could they compete with labour that costs $5 a day? A brave soul pointed out that when Canadian manufacturing was strong, things cost more but everyone had a decent job. Personally, as I have stated many times on this blog, I think it would be far better to pay more and have good quality things made in environmentally sound ways and by people making a living wage, than the downward spiral most of the First World finds itself in.

As for the i-phone thread - which, once again, I was too late to join - I remember reading twenty years ago, how technology would ultimately separate the classes. Those with money would be able to jet ahead of their poorer counterparts thanks to the advantages of the new technology. But I can see there is also a very obvious social aspect to this technology that revolves around the status of owning the latest toy. Just as the guy at Denis' table with three phones was the star of the moment, so will be those who can afford the toys that will become more and more expensive. Like my sister-in-law used to justify spending thousands on a work wardrobe, so will people with simple means sacrifice the necessities to own a toy that will give them status.

I have opted to not have a cell phone and it is getting harder and harder. There aren’t phone booths around and people can’t get their minds around the idea that I can’t be reached immediately. But a part of me just can’t bring myself to own something that has proven to be so destructive to the environment.

I struggle as a mother of an eleven year old, how much technology to allow her to have. She LOVES books and reading and is one of the few children I know who actually reads. My husband and I believe it is because she watches little T.V. and plays no computer games. Yet the schools, which are neglecting the basics, all assign projects that require work from the computer. It doesn’t seem to bother the teachers one iota that most of what is turned in is cut and pasted. Sometimes I wonder if the way I am teaching my daughter to learn – to wade through books and find multiple sources, to write her findings in her own words, to carefully handwrite her papers or hand draw her graphs is putting her at a disadvantage. I am only 51, but I feel like I am 91, longing for a time before the computer revolution when kids raced out for the mail and kitchen phones had long cords so people could drag the receiver into a closet for a private conversation.

And I know what you mean, @Zee, about e-mail. It seems to have totally passed the younger generation by. They post – mostly boring crap – on their Facebook pages and text. As Denis pointed out, the art of letter writing is lost - along with the thank you note. As much as I love getting e-mails from friends, I still miss the mail and the letters.

Sorry to have strayed so far from the post. Just a note: If you haven’t seen Bill Moyers interview with Chris Hedges you should make time to do so. It really shed light on what drives Hedges and was an outstanding interview.

The Black Swan said...

Heard this on NPR last night. File it under hypocrisy. From Obama's speech to the UN; talking about Syria:
"The future must not belong to a dictator who murders his people".