Saturday, May 06, 2006
Friday, May 05, 2006
Just as important to me is that this is yet another case of patriotism at odds with the true ideals of America. A distinction lost on many who call themselves patriots. The whole point of the idea of freedom of speech is that it protects even the most offensive speech and expressions. As long as it is not violent and doesn't espouse violence. Even racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and other types of offensive speech are protected. If they weren't, what would be the point? Non-offensive speech doesn't need protection. And what under the amendment would be considered desecration? A peace symbol on a flag? Some Tommy Hilfiger fashions, remember the clothes with flags on them? Boy Scout flag retirement ceremonies that burn the flag as a way to respectfully retire it? After that would it be speech that advocates flag burning? If the flag, as a symbol of our freedoms, is used to limit one of our fundamental freedoms, in the same act it becomes an empty symbol. If we protect the flag from burning, we in effect burn the rights it stands as a symbol of.
As I listened to her speak in the interview, clear coherent speech, and with the fact that she's been making appearances lately because she's one of the few people left in the White House more popular than she is not, you have to wonder why she isn't the politician in the family. She could teach the President a thing or two. Then again, maybe she's tried.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.Apropos I think in view of the approaching cult status of Stephen Colbert after his performance at the White House Corrspondents' dinner. Just look at how this conservative gasbag gets deflated in a whopping 340 comments on HuffPo of all places. Not the place to dog out a liberal hero. This guy, Nathan Gardels, tried and had the nerve to whine about it in his next post where he was lambasted in 261 comments. This blogger is the kind of snidely little prick whose face you want to rub in it. Who, as is pointed out in several comments, lists in his bio that he was a "Founding Member, Intellectuels du Monde." Please. That kind of pretention belongs in the MSM where they eat that crap up. At HuffPo it is begging to be made fun of like the nerd character in a locker room full of jocks in a teen flick.
Mr. Carlin knows a little bit about crossing the line. With classic routines from Seven Dirty Words to American Bullshit, he is the inspiraton of generations of comedians to follow. I don't know that he has ever, correct me if I'm wrong, been handed a golden opportunity to do so in the face of those he is lampooning. Within spitting distance, as Colbert was this weekend. I sure he would have done so just as fearlessly.
WaPo has this fair assessment of the MSM's initial response to Colbert, a virtual "blackout."And after being called on it by the blogosphere, their second attempt to devalue it, by saying, as Gardels did, that it was "not funny." Which, of course, is understandable. It's hard to appreciate humor that you are the butt of. Not humor like President Bush's milquetoast self-mockery. But parody that fully exposes the "man behind the curtain." Like the finally exposed Wizard of Oz, the MSM is telling us to pay no heed to him.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Ok, I feel like you people are waiting for a punch line. I really did get email from Arianna yesterday. She's recently been posting excerpts of her new book on her blog and I read them and made a few salient and perspicuous comments, you know like the stuff I write here on this blog all the time, which she understandably would like to include in her new book.
I'm not smoking or drinking anything and I am awake. And this is the thing that is cool about Arianna Huffington. Not that she wants to include my comments in her book. But that she gets this medium. She is one of the few people who came from the conventional press who gets what the web and the blogosphere are and what their potential is. I wish more authors would share their work prior to publication on the web and in blogs. She gets some snarky comments on her blog from time to time from people who call it self-promotion. If it is it is very smart self-promotion, but looking at it this way completely misses the point and is a comment made by people who don't get it. Arianna, don't listen to the haters.
What she is doing is good for both authors and readers because people get to read exceprts from a book that isn't out yet and they don't even have to get dressed. It is something that would have not been possible before the web and before blogging. It's about being open and sharing information and using the potential of the medium to that end. But that is not the only way she gets it. Her encouragement of celebrity bloggers on HuffPo, though occasionally overzealous, is good for the blogosphere and good for those who choose to use it. The Contagious Festival and the whole idea of HuffPo is very forward thinking. She is on the vanguard of what the future of journalism will be. While networks like CNN - the most trusted name in news, have "blog reporters" who tell you what's on the blogs, and commentators who read email from viewers on TV, but you can't find the email on their site. They believe that they are Internet savvy. They still don't get it.
Arianna has also been named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. Not that I put much stock in lists of that kind or any kind. Not really something I would have paid much attention to at all in fact. But in her case I think Time got it right. And for those of you who think I'm saying these things because she asked to quote me in her book, you couldn't be more...well, Ok, that did help. But I would have said them anyway. And I won't cheapen all of this by saying she's hot. I respect her for her mind.
Oh and finally, I hope Arianna won't be jealous that George Clooney will be a guest blogger on A Revolution of One blog soon. He happened to catch one of my posts and started reading the whole blog and decided he did want to blog after all.... Ok, that part is a joke. But the rest is real. I swear.
"The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday."
~Stephen Colbert about President Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents' dinner.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
What makes Colbert's attack so deadly is that it is not a frontal assault. It is not an angry, loud, or strident. It is not crude. It is not Ann Coulter. It is a kind of philosophical judo that uses the weight of the opponents arguments against them. His weapon is irony. And he uses it with the deadly accuracy of a Samurai warrior. If you haven't seen The Colbert Report (pronounced colber repor, the Ts are silent), on Comedy Central, and you should, his character is a parody of the Bill O'Reilly, Tucker Carlson, blowhard conservative pundit type taken to the Nth degree. You can see clips on Comedycentral.com.
Colbert's is a brand of political and cultural commentary in the vein of the French Situationist, as this commentary on Salon points out.
In the late 1960s, the Situationists in France called such ironic mockery "detournement," a word that roughly translates to "abduction" or "embezzlement." It was considered a revolutionary act, helping to channel the frustration of the Paris student riots of 1968. They co-opted and altered famous paintings, newspapers, books and documentary films, seeking subversive ideas in the found objects of popular culture. "Plagiarism is necessary," wrote Guy Debord, the famed Situationist, referring to his strategy of mockery and semiotic inversion. "Progress demands it. Staying close to an author's phrasing, plagiarism exploits his expressions, erases false ideas, replaces them with correct ideas."There is a site set up for fans to thank Stephen for the courage of his performance at www.thankyoustephencolbert.org. Because he was not feeling the love from the audience, and it is easy to see why. They were the butt of the joke. Which is not much different from what he does on his show, but there it is one on one and it works. Last night on the Daily Show Jon Stewart wondered if they'd expected Colbert to do what he does on his show. There are links on thankyoustephencolbert.org to the whole performance. YouTube has a 60 Minutes piece on Colbert, the real Stephen Colbert, not the character from the Report.
The Darfur tragedy also reminds me of one of the big reasons those who still defend the war in Iraq use to justify it. Saddam Hussein committed genocide on his own people. They always forget to finish that sentence. I'm sure what they mean to say is Saddam Hussein committed genocide on his own people who just happened to be living above the second largest oil reserves in the world. But I'm being disappointedly idealistic again. To be fair, Darfur is an issue that has brought together people from all over the political spectrum. It is described in this excerpt from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
"This is as big a tent as I've ever worked under," said Chuck Thies, the Washington rally director. "As far left and far right, and fully stacked up the middle; Muslims, Jews, Christians, students, labor. It's a rare opportunity to work with such a group that's unified."
The Decider is also at least speaking out.
...after meeting Friday at the White House with eight representatives from the SaveDarfur Coalition, Bush said: "I want the Sudanese government to understand the United States of America is serious about solving this problem."
Bush said that the 7,000 African Union peacekeeping troops in Darfur need to be augmented by NATO forces. He also praised those participating in this weekend's rallies: "For those of you going out to march for justice, you represent the best of our country. We believe every life is precious, every human being is important. And the signal you send to the world is a strong signal, and I welcome your participation."
The good thing about Darfur, if anything about it can be said to be good, is that so many people are speaking out and taking action. There were large demonstrations in Washington, DC this weekend. There was also a large demonstration against the Iraq war. With the Immigration protests also held this weekend, this country is starting to look like France occasionally does. Thankfully sans the burning cars and people getting hosed down by water canons.
Real hero of 'Hotel Rwanda', Paul Rusesabagina speaks at Darfur rally in DC, Saturday April 29, 2006.
But I can't mention Darfur without saying something about George Clooney and his efforts to bring attention to the tragedy. Not only him, but all the pampered celebrities who have used their fame to do more than tell us what's in fashion, what diet we need to go on to squeeze our ample American arses into those fashions, and what car to drive to be seen in them. Celebrities like Branjolina, Oprah, who did a moving and informative show which Clooney appeared on, and Don Cheadle. Also people in the media and politicians. One who has been speaking out for years is radio host and commentator Joe Madison.
Reverend Al Sharpton speaks at Darfur rally in DC, Saturday April 29, 2006.
WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) - Five members of the U.S. Congress were arrested on Friday at a demonstration held at the Sudan embassy to protest atrocities in that country's Darfur region, congressional aides said.
The lawmakers, all Democrats, were Reps. Tom Lantos of California, James McGovern and John Olver of Massachusetts, James Moran of Virginia, and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, aides to McGovern and Lantos said.
It is at least good to see that people are aware and are speaking out this time, which is a lot sooner than they did in the case of Rwanda. There are a few things to be optimistic about. And as hard as it is out here for a disappointed idealist, I'm sure it's a million times harder for those living through this tragedy.
Monday, May 01, 2006
"I've heard the national anthem done in rap versions, country versions, classical versions. The individualisation of the American national anthem is quite under way," she said on the CBS show "Face the Nation."Amen sister Secretary. Ok, I'm not a big fan of hers, but when she's right, she's right. There are so many ironies here that it is hard to know where to go first. There's President Bush suggesting that people need to learn English. He should take his own advice and then we'd no longer have to worry why our President isn't learning. It never ceases to amaze me how supposed patriotism can be so at odds with the ideals that are supposed to be the highest ideals of this country. One of those ideals is freedom of speech and expression. Seems to me that applies in this case.
"From my point of view, people expressing themselves as wanting to be Americans is a good thing," she added. "I think what we need to focus on is an immigration policy that is comprehensive and that recognises our laws and recognises our humanity," she added.
I wonder if the people so outraged over this song even hear themselves. How can the ideals that the national anthem represents through words they so revere in English, somehow suddenly become offensive when the same words are sung in Spanish? Can democracy, freedom, justice and all the ideals of this great nation be lost in translation?
Fortunately I passed a TV that Rosa had left on, she's so forgetful sometimes, and heard that darling young girl from CNN - the most trusted name in news, Kyra Phillips talking about this Day Without Immigrants. Whose idea was this anyway? Surely the immigrants hadn't thought of it themselves. I became frightened. What if they all decided never to come back. I would be doomed to a life of flat froth on my lattes or having to drive-thru at Starbucks. I shutter to think. Kyra asked that we write in to CNN to tell them how a day without immigrants is affecting us, and that is why I'm writing this.
This should not be allowed to happen. The president must do something. Who will bus the tables at our favorite dinning spots? Who'll get the car? Someone should get down to this Day Without Immigrants rally and send all those people back to work pronto. They are mostly good workers, but they do need guidance.
Ok, that was my fantasy day without immigrants, but there is a couple things I'd like to say on this May Day. I think it is a shame that many people in this country focus their frustration and anger in this debate on "illegal immigrants." That they focus on those who are poorest and least economically and politically able to make a change in the situation. That is unless those people do as they are now, organize and work together in large numbers. This is not a problem of "illegal immigration." That is a bottom up approach to the problem. It is one that blames those who are victims of the problem. A top down approach sees it as a problem of corporate exploitation of undocumented poor people who have little choice if they want to have a home, clothes and food.
It is a problem that economic policy in both the US and Mexico created. NAFTA which was supposed to ease illegal immigration has made it worse. It enabled large corporate food producers to sell their goods in Mexico, putting small Mexican farms out of business. Those farmers had no choice but to find work wherever they could if they wanted to feed their families. They risked life and limb to come here out of desperation. And once they arrive they are exploited by the same corporate system that created the economic disaster in their own country.
As long as the problem is framed in terms of "illegal immigration", Lou Dobbs, it creates animosities that pit poor whites and the middle class in this country against poor Hispanics. Basically the poor against the poor. And it practically ignores the large corporations who created and ultimately benefit from it, raking in billions off the labor and suffering of desperate people. Focusing on the corporations who profit from it would fix the problem of illegal immigration in record time. But it would not fix the problem of those left in dire straits by disasterous economic policy. Those in the corporate owned media and the corporate owned politicians who frame this debate in terms of illegal immigration part of the problem. They know which side of the bread the butter is on. They will never bite the hand that feeds. You may occasionally hear one of them talk about corporate responsibility for this problem, but never as much as you will hear the words illegal immigrant. Words that play directly into the fears of the bigoted.
That is why these demonstrations and boycotts are being compared to the Civil Rights movement of the '50s and '60s. I only wish that people could be persuaded in the same numbers to demonstrate against the Iraq war and for saving those suffering in Darfur. This day is about more than missing immigrants for one day or forever. It's about justice for poor people. Si se puede!
But I haven't forgotten that I am a revolutionary, so it is my duty to inform all the pampered celebrities that when the revolution comes, they will have to give up their courside seats for the people. All of them that is, except for Nicholson. It wouldn't be a Laker game without Jack courside, looking cool in a pair of shades.
I saw the Flash intro the Suns have on their web site. Sorry to say it, but the fat lady is tuning up and it's pretty much over.