Wednesday, July 18, 2007

morning MSM rant

Maybe I’m just cranky today, but I find myself exasperated with everything, EVERYTHING, I see on the news. I didn’t seek out MSNBC’s headlines this morning—they were thrust on me as I logged out of my hotmail account ( but they are so typical of all headlines everywhere I don’t know if it is fair to pick on MSNBC)-- And it’s like a car wreck; I can’t look away. This is a long diary, and I have no great pearls of wisdom to wrap it up at the end; I am just ranting as I read.

Let’s start here:

Hummer owner gets angry message

Now as much as Hummers make me roll my eyes, I really wonder if the idiots who vandalized this Hummer thought they were striking a great blow for the forces of environmentalism by this rather cowardly act of vandalism. In most cases I think that vandalism as political speech is just stupid—it is more likely to lose you supporters than gain them—and doing it masked?? If you believe in the cause so strongly, why hide?

Oh right, because bashing in someone’s car isn’t seen as political speech; it’s seen as a property crime.

But this whole article is slaying me. Why?

one man bought a flashy gray Hummer that was too massive to fit in his garage

ok, there’s the strong hint that your car is way too effing big

It lasted five days on the street before two masked men took a bat to every window, a knife to each 38-inch tire and scratched into the body: "FOR THE ENVIRON."

And this helped the environment how? As a political strategy, getting people to do what you want (in this case, not drive Hummers) out of fear might be effective in the short run. But it is also historically the weapon of those on the wrong side. Think of racial violence over the last 400 years for examples.

Now I was on the point of agreeing with this neighbor

"They've got everything at their disposal in this city to make a statement in a legal way," Fremaux said of the bat-wielding men who struck out at the Hummer.

Until she said this

"I consider this a hate crime."

When will people quit trivializing the idea of hate crime? People who own Hummers are not a historically oppressed group. Nobody is going to deny you your right to vote, or rape your wife, or sell you into slavery, because you have a Hummer. No one has been lynched, or chained to a car and dragged to death, or beaten to near death and tied up in a field like a scarecrow, because they own a Hummer. It's like the old puzzles: Which one of these crimes is not like these other crimes?

Now, back to our Hummer owner,

Gareth Groves, 32, who lives with his mother in a three-story home in the 3400 block of Brandywine Street NW in American University Park.

Several things here. First, what idiot reporter decided to give the guy’s exact address? Second, the part about living with his mother gets me. Can’t make assumptions—she could be staying with him because her health is so bad or something. But a little voice inside me is suggesting that he lives with his mother so he can afford to pay for a Hummer, which is ironic since one reason he bought the Hummer is that

he is starting a company, Washington Sports Marketing, that is "image-based."

Dude, you are 32 and you live with your mother. The Hummer isn’t going to make up for what that does to your image.

Now, I got really irked when I saw this headline
Dow Jones board signs off on sale
Which popped up after I signed out of my hotmail just now--irked because I knew the punchline, but it’s not in the headline. When I clicked on it, the whole headline came up and read

Dow Jones board signs off on sale to Murdoch

If you ask me, since Murdoch is now trying to buy the company that controls the Wall Street Journal and the Dow Industrial Average, among other things, and since his media empire is a propaganda tool posing as a legitimate news organization, his name should be a bit more prominent in that headline.

(For some reason, I keep picturing the Star Wars opening crawls when I see this headline. Just my inner geek, I guess.)

This also killed me
Why all the Murdoch bashing? Get over it!
but for a reason I didn’t expect. Well, ok, the part where he trivializes serious, legitimate concerns with this purchase by invoking old school vampire flicks is standard fare these days; these guys can reheat these clichés in their sleep. But that part aside, I thought this would be a Murdoch apologist claiming that Murdoch is fair and balanced and whatnot, but instead the article is more of a "So what? Who cares?" about media consolidation.

So what??? So What????
Murdoch controls enough media now

He can reach something like ¾ of the world’s population with this network. It is time for us to say "Enough already."
The US media system was set up with the idea that for a democracy to function, people need access to multiple media outlets. Letting one voice control so many outlets is dangerous for democracy. Partisan media is fine, as long as 1) it admits to being partisan, and 2) it is not the only game in town. Murdoch’s empire metaphorically spits on the Founders’ dream of an informed public.

And by the way, is it me, or does everyone else cringe when they see the phrase "Get over it"? these days? It has become the winger’s usual signoff for "How dare you protest our illegal/unethical/democracy-killing actions?" Voter fraud and stolen elections—"Get over it!" Endless war—"Get over it!" Executive incompetence—"Get over it!"

While I have been typing this, I see that the headline about the plane crash in Brazil has soared to the top of the list, predictably, since there’s now a picture of flaming wreckage attached to it. God, Some days I really despise the mainstream media.

Finally, the story I went online to catch up on

Senate nears end to all-night Iraq debate
(UPDATE: this link no longer goes to the earlier story)
Not much to see here except for the return of the grade-school playground taunt as political strategy

Added Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., of his Democratic colleagues: "I bet I can stay up longer than they can."

And one WTF moment:

With a half-dozen spectators watching from the gallery

Shit, I figured it would be mobbed! Wish I had known, I would have tried to get in to watch. Richmond is only 100 miles from DC. It would’ve been a good thing to show some support...
But that's it; there's just not much meat in the story, and I am ging to kos to find out what really went on. I don't know why I have wasted so much time on MSNBC anyway.

As I start to click off I see one more cringe-worthy headline

Edwards ad touts him as a tough guy

So far he’s my favorite candidate, with Obama up there too, but does ugh, what a headline. And so typical, focusing on the horserace, not the horse.

It ends because I have to get ready for a meeting. So as I said up top, no real overarching point here. It’s just good once in a blue moon to know other people feel my pain.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Good news

My cousin Alex made it home safely from Afghanistan (again) on July 4th.

Sex and death

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
• sex (4x)
• death (1x)

Yeah, sex ed and the death penalty.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Around town

I saw this on Church Hill People’s News.
From NBC 12:
The Sons of Confederate Veterans says it would like to take over maintenance at Oakwood Cemetery, but it cannot get a go-ahead from the city.
Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans say they will do the maintenance, they’ll pay for it out of their own funds and the city can keep the title.
This seems to be a winner all around. The SCV thinks it will save the city $30,000 a year. The cemetery gets maintained, the city saves some money, and this might mollify both the groups who are upset that so much money goes to the upkeep of Confederate monuments and the groups that are upset that so many other Confederate places are not kept up. So why haven’t the city/Mayor Wilder moved on this offer?
Some days Richmond’s government is enough to make you pull your hair out.

SaveRichmond has another great example: City Council is putting more energy into busting up parties than it is into finding out why the Performing Arts Center is turning into such a disastrous waste of taxpayer money.

On to brighter news:
The homicide rate is down, significantly so--

And finally, this Saturday is the Hanover Tomato Festival.

Reality-Based Intellectualist

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

Well, sorta. Nothing against Jesus, though, and I don't know why intellectuals are supposed to be so elite. No one gets into education to make money...

Friday, June 29, 2007


We saw Sicko tonight. I had heard that it is Michael Moore’s best film ever and I totally, emphatically have to agree. While I appreciate his usual techniques, with his stunts and gotcha moments and feigned shock, I also think from a political viewpoint that sometimes his humor gets in the way of his points. This time, however, he stands back and allows the humor and pathos and irony to arise from the situations themselves, not from any stunts he pulls. Well ok, there is one major stunt, and it is a good one—he takes a bunch of people, including a few sick 9/11 rescue workers, to Cuba for healthcare—but generally he stands back and let his subjects make his points for him.

He quickly introduces the premise that it’s not just the uninsured who are desperate for healthcare in the US; even the insured in this country are getting dangerously substandard care. He then slowly builds a case that a healthcare system that is set up to profit the most by providing less and less care is designed to and thus doomed to screw over its patients. There were so many moving moments, from the opening sequences where a man without insurance sews up a large cut on his leg and another man explains how he cut off the tips of 2 fingers but could only afford to reattach one, to scenes of an older couple, insured yet still bankrupted by healthcare costs, moving in with their daughter, to a mother describing how her sick toddler died after being taken to an out-of-network hospital that refused to treat her, to a woman describing how her husband was denied a bone marrow transplant and died. There are enough of these stories that I began to cringe every time an older home video showed up on the screen; it meant we were going to hear another story about someone else killed by bureaucracy.

In between these stories Moore visited Canada, England, and France to show how socialized medicine functions in those countries. HINT: We don’t see the nightmarish waits and substandard care that our HMOs tell us exist. The comparison becomes painful. Moore gives us stats on how our system now ranks 37th in the world, how we are the only Western nation without subsidized healthcare for all people, how we have the infant mortality rate of a third world nation, how profits for healthcare companies and drug companies keep soaring while treatments gets worse and worse.

Moore questions why socialized medicine is seen as such a boogeyman in this country while socialized education, libraries, firefighters and police departments are seen as good things. (The looming hammer and sickle at this point provide some of the funniest moments.) Best of all though is the way that he relates socialized medicine to values that are in the American ethos, and connects our healthcare system to our entire way of life—our political passivity, our debt, and our fear. Near the end he has quick clips of people in various circumstance talking about how neighbors pull together to help each other (we see a community searching for a lost child, a woman taking meals to shut-ins, men rebuilding a house) and compares this to other countries where healthcare is included in that sort of sentiment. It seems like a nonpartisan sentiment to me, to want good healthcare for every one of my fellow Americans, and for even for non-Americans who wander in too (the scenes where Canadians talk about their experiences getting sick or injured in this country, and discuss how they will not come here without buying special insurance, should be painful to anyone who wants to be proud of this country). I think this sentiment should be nonpartisan, but I am sure after I post this and travel around the blogs reading reviews, that I will see plenty of those if-you-think-France-is-so-great-why-don’t-you-move-there and everything-Michael-Moore-says-is-fiction and if-we-socialze-medicine-they’ll-come-for-our-entire-way-of-life-next posts from people who make this a partisan issue.

And my God, if it has to be partisan, I am glad I am on the side that votes for not having children and adults die because they have no insurance, or because they have insurance, but they are at the wrong hospital, or they have insurance, but insurance company reps have quotas for how many claims they are supposed to deny, in short, the side that votes for LIFE.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Small, out of date bragging

Last month, for the first and probably last time ever, I landed a diary on the recommended list on dailykos. That was pretty cool.

Liberal media my a**

PBS has hired Frank Luntz, a partisan hack who has been previously reprimanded for unscientific manipulation of polls, to comment on tomorrow's Democratic debate. Details and links to emails if ya wanna protest:

John Edwards party tonight

This is where I’m going tonight.
It was a close call between John Edwards and Asia, but Edwards finally beat out the chance to hear "Heat of the Moment” live.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Activism, politicking, backslapping

Just pasting in from email:

The latest shindig for them what has money to toss at Tim Kaine's PAC:

Please Join Moving Virginia Forward In Honoring Tim Kaine
And Celebrating the Sounds and Tastes of Virginia

The Sounds and Tastes Celebration Gala will be held on
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 at 7 p.m.
At the Jefferson Hotel
In Richmond, Virginia
Valet parking will be available.
Business attire is appropriate.
Sponsors ($5,000) receive 2 tickets to the VIP reception at 6pm and 2 tickets to the General reception.
Friends ($1,000) receive 1 ticket to the VIP reception at 6 p.m. and 1 ticket to the General Reception.
Democratic Activists ($125) receive 1 ticket to attend the General Reception.

And 2 volunteer opportunities with Planned Parenthood:

Sex Education and Community Outreach Training
Wednesday, July 11, 6:00-8:00 pm3415 Floyd Avenue, Richmond
Throughout the summer, volunteers will attend festivals and community events like the Watermelon Festival and the 17th St Farmers Market to help educate Richmond about our REAL Sex Ed Saves Lives Campaign. Topics covered at the training include: Planned Parenthood's services, How to talk the pro-choice talk, and much more information about our sex ed campaign. Even if you don't feel comfortable approaching strangers, there are many other ways you can be involved. Registrants for the training are asked to bring $7 to purchase a Protect Women's Health t-shirt. Pizza and drinks will be provided.

Volunteer Night of Action
Thursday, July 12, 6:00-7:30 pm
3415 Floyd Avenue, Richmond
As volunteers help identify tons of new Planned Parenthood supporters, those supporters are asked to sign a postcard to their legislator. As we collect hundreds of postcards from Richmonders who support REAL Sex Ed, we need your help to prepare them to send to local officials. Food and drinks will be provided, as well as good friends and fun. No experience necessary!

Why I love Save Richmond dot com

It seems that surface knowledge of the boondoggle that is the Virginia Center for Performing Arts has reached the ears of even the Richmond Citizenry that doesn’t pay attention at all, some of whom keep breathlessly keep feeding me details that I read about two years ago on Save Richmond.

It seems that the Times-Dispatch has the same problem with news lag.

In case you aren’t keeping up, the project is still a disaster, sucking money from the public coffers, lurching around with no accountability to the taxpayers and no reference to the art community it is supposed to be supporting.

If you can stand the pain, take Save Richmond’s EZ 2 Love Our City Quiz.
This is my favorite question:

5. The Virginia Performing Arts Foundation’s contract with its longstanding consultant, AMS Planning & Research, is up for renewal this summer. Which of the following is NOT an accomplishment of this consulting firm?

A. Advised and wrote the original plan for Miami’s Carnival Performing Arts Center, which has now gone $250 million over budget, with monthly costs bloating from an original estimate of $306,000 to more than $616,000.
B. Advised the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, which opened in an unfinished state, and with cost overruns that contributed to a $30 million debt.
C. Claimed that the shows presented at University of Richmond’s Modlin Center would have no effect on Richmond’s arts center project because the Modlin was “at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.”
D. Hired Michelle Walter to advise the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation not long after she resigned as the Chief Operating Officer of the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation.
E. Still clears $10,000 a month from the Richmond project.
F. All of these are AMS accomplishments.

(The answer is F, but you knew that, didn’t you?)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Trying to get up to speed…

I’m trying to find all my old favorite links, and noticing that in addition to the recent primary (I’ll post about that soon) there seems to be quite a bit going on in Richmond this week.

For starters, Books on Wheels has a Mo'Book Mo'Bike Mobile. A project springing from Chop Suey Books, it is “a traveling ‘library’ and bike repair shop.”

We have created an organization called Books on Wheels and are attempting to give away as many books, bike parts, and bike repairs that we can. Basically, we will hold bi-monthly events throughout Richmond at which we will park the bus and welcome anyone to bring us their bicycle for repairs, tune-ups, or inspections. This service will be free, and while they are waiting they are encouraged to go through a selection of books which they can take for free. This is an entirely non-profit venture, one which we hope will spread the love of reading and the accessibility of books, encourage alternative forms of transportation, and share skills in bike maintenance and up-keep.

And according to Diversity Thrift’s website,

The GAY COMMUNITY CENTER OF RICHMOND'S 12,000 square foot DIVERSITY EVENT AND BINGO HALL is scheduled to open on Sunday, July 1st

And Style Weekly has an internal memo from the Richmond Police that suggests there are arrest quotas (which the department calls “goals”) for, in this example, trespassing in Gilpin court.

And Next Saturday (June 23rd) is both the 5th annual Richmond Vegetarian Festival (Noon to 6pm, Azalea Gardens at Bryan Park) and Juneteenth.

Signs of life

When I turned this blog into a clean slate, I really didn’t know if I would ever start it up again. The internet is full of people sounding off about politics; when I quit writing in Jan 06 it seemed that all of a sudden were so many Richmond blogs doing what I was doing that I knew one more or less wouldn’t make that much difference.

Last summer there was a frog in our yard who used to sit under our downspouts and holler; he made quite the echo chamber of it and seemed very impressed with himself. Some days when I blogged, I felt like that frog, only maybe without his charm. So after I hadn’t posted for a few months and knew I wouldn’t come back for a while I just wiped the thing clean (there’s something so sad about an out-of-date blog). Deleted it and saved nothing. Felt good. Didn’t really miss it for a long time. At first I was too busy dealing with various family crises, then on a more life-affirming note, I decided it was damn well time I finished my dissertation. And I finished, and settled this and that. And still, with so much settled, I didn’t start writing again. I wondered about adding the point of adding more echoes.

What makes me write again is that recently Vance said he sorta missed my blog.

I find that sweet and funny. I mean, being that we’re married and live together and whatnot, he hears all my political opinions, at length, at all hours, so I am not sure what he has missed. But that’s the little push I needed. So here I go again.

NOW I wish I had saved all my old links...