You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

 

Pretty harsh stuff, or just self-evident? Typical liberal elitism viewing the average Joe as cattle to be managed or a lament for a loss of hope in American government and ideals? Anti-God, guns, and Old Glory or pro-progress, pro-trade, and pro-tolerance?

Or is a mix of both: a cogent analysis of why many small-town folks feel disenfranchised but also a glimpse into Obama’s big-city feelings towards small-town America?

And does either John McCain or Hillary Clinton have a leg to stand on in condemning these remarks?

Discuss!

First, review this fine cautionary tale available here, courtesy of the ACLU:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNJl9EEcsoE

Now, I am no great fan of the ACLU, but credit where credit is due, this piece sums up the dangers of all those clever national IDs, government administered programs, linked databases, and GPS-enabled devices nicely. In fact, just two short years later, much of what is portrayed already exists:

  • businesses use caller-ID to recognize phones and link to customer information
  • even if the government didn’t give it out, businesses would certainly use a national ID number as a key—just as they use the SSN currently
  • your home address, birthday, name, etc. are all already keyed to the current equivalent of a national ID—your SSN
  • where you work is almost certainly on file—didn’t they ask the last time you applied for credit or a loan?
  • cell phones with GPS currently do broadcast your location to services that request that information—unless you configure them not to
  • businesses already assign delivery areas or prices by risk of the neighborhood—as those living near shady areas know—and as crime stats become more instantly available, this can only increase
  • as businesses partner to offer shared customer incentives, exchanging information about recent purchases and coupon offers is becoming commonplace
  • certainly whether your cards are maxed out is easy—a quick query to each card could do that

And some things, which have not yet come to pass (as it were) are terrifyingly likely:

  • currently legislation protects your health care information, but either government-run healthcare or single-payer schemes would require releasing it to the government at the least
  • legislation to allow the government to regulate food and lifestyle choices for health is already proposed—once the government’s actually paying for health-care, what will happen
  • currently the health-care industry and insurance industry would love to be notified about people’s purchases and force them to sign waivers—unlike them, government can actually enforce such desires
  • in our climate of constant fear of terror attacks, does opening travel itineraries to public scrutiny seem farfetched?

Horrifyingly, the only thing which seemed utterly ridiculous was libraries ever voluntarily making your reading choices public. But amazon.com on the other hand…

Clearly some of what is portrayed is fine, even useful, but some is frighteningly Orwellian.

So where should the line be drawn? Where does the scenario presented cross the line from convenience to surveillance? As technology advances it seems increasingly impossible to effectively compartmentalize information, so should we assume that whatever the government knows about us will find its way into private hands? And just how much should the government know about us, anyway?

Discuss amongst yourselves!

Spinal Tap once again proves that truth is stranger than fiction:

Recently, ABBA’s former drummer died in a bizarre gardening accident.

The late, great Jeff Porcaro‘s widow claims to this day that her husband died from a heart attack brought on by an allergic reaction to the pesticide he was using in his garden, not a drug overdose… that’s right, a bizarre gardening accident. (Decades of drug use must have counted, though.)

Jim Hodder, also a former Steely Dan drummer (he and Jeff both played with the Dan—at the same time—back in the mid ’70s), drowned in his swimming pool. Not quite a bizarre gardening accident but within spitting distance since the backyard is what the Brits call “the garden”….

So what is it with drummers? Or is it musicians? Or is it all “man bites dog” publication bias? Discuss!

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ObFascism Tag: If it were up to those hateful fascist safety regulators—who Hate America and Everything It Stands For!—there would be no more bizarre gardening accidents.

The AM highlighted this article for discussion.

Angry Midwesterner:
Ah….Republicans.
Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they stick it
to the poor and help out their rich buddies?

Angry Immigrant:
Yeah, those dang “Republicans” who took 6,000 acres of her land without any payment in the 1930s… And that $0 of repayment was worth more back then…

Angry Midwesterner:
At least they weren’t skipping over the nearby resort and the local Bush friend.

Angry Immigrant:
Well, for now they’re skipping over everyone and not building anything. But as for making the case for skipping Republicans, argue about the Hunt plantation/trade corridor — that one’s easier. The golf course doesn’t seem to have direct connections up the chain anywhere, and could just be avoiding rich people.

What pisses me off even more than regular government bureaucracy (apart from the ridiculous spelling of the word) is partisan bureaucracy (admittedly, these fence shenanigans seem applicable at the moment). The last thing I want is a CIA more loyal to Clinton than the U.S. and a DHS more loyal to Bush. With that policy we’ll eventually end up with the INS kicking down the door of some Indian family with the “same name as” and finding a CIA wet team waiting for them instead. And how is HillaryCare going to reimburse the widows after that mess?

I want anyone appointed to their job to be loyal to the country, not to the DNC or the RNC (GNC, P&FNC, BIRPNC…). You get your Obama dude to fix that by 2012, and I’ll consider voting to re-elect him.

Plus, this isn’t the right response of a poor-or-brown-people hating Republican. This is hosing our own people — that’s the Democrats’ job. A good evil Republican looks at this as says, “The problem comes from Mexico, so the solution goes inside Mexico.” We want to build the fence outside the flood plain, but there’s no reason to build it on our side of the river… If Mexico doesn’t enforce their own border, we’ll do it for them, with a 2 mile deep occupational fence zone. Any fence will piss them off, so why not go all the way? Plus, if they want to push us back from building the fence, they’ll have to send their military to the border; which will fix the original problem of them not policing the para-military groups running border incursions… Q.E.D. Where’s my consulting fee?

-AI

So deep is the hate-juice among some conservatives for John McCain that they favor an opponent over the possible (likely?—in this crazy campaign, I’m not going to say that) nominee of their own party. Jimmie Dobson has been rumbling again, for instance, and Limbaugh has been working himself into a faux-frothing-at-the-mouth fury. This more or less reminds me of the hard-core Green Party Nader voters of 2000. It’s a long standing theme in American politics going back decades when a party splits into its component factions. But nothing tops this little gem:

Of course, it’s been making the rounds and chances are good you’ve seen it already, though if you haven’t, watching Colmes’ reaction to Ann is damn funny. No, if there’s anything new to this, it’s Ann’s little line on John McCain “he has led the fight against torture at Guantanamo” about a minute in. Has “torture” been turned into a one-word talking point? WTF?

Mind-twisting quasi-logic of the John Yoo variety I understand (he is a law professor after all), but Ann goes out of her way to correct Hannity when he uses the term “interrogations”. Props for being honest, I guess, but… whoa. Chuck Norris in the movies might do that, but I’m not sure where the Chuckster stands on it in real life, and Chuck does know the difference, though evidently some conservative commentators don’t understand that ’24’ is a TV show. (Anyone know?)

Discuss!

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ObFascism Tag: Can’t you just see Ann as one of Josef Goebbels’ girlfriends in a different life?

It turns out that The Atlantic—a magazine to which I have subscribed for the last ten years, though I really doubt I’ll ever make enough money to be in their demographic (at least based on the market research surveys I saw and the ads in the magazine)—recently decided to open its web page to everyone. This is really nice from my perspective because I can send people links to articles without wondering if they’ll be able to read them. Whether they will read them is, of course, a separate question, but I’m not kidding myself. It’s not like I read everything people send me either.

Not too long back, as Angry New Mexican noted, the New York Times dumped TimesSelect and opened up things to everyone. After NYT went to TimesSelect, I confess I stopped reading them and ended up moving to the Washington Post, which I prefer (with the exception of Science Times). I wonder how many other people went in similar directions and simply stopped reading the Times?

Salon.com also dropped most of its pay-to-enter (I recall the days before pay-to-enter) and allows viewers in if they watch ads. You can pay not to watch ads.

Rupert Murdoch—ever the conformist contrarian—seems like he wants to keep his newly acquired Wall Street Journal as subscription-only. Murdoch seems to make piles of money riding herd over contradictions such as Fox News, purveyor of culture-warriors like Bill O’Reilly and sleaze-shows to offend more schoolmarm-ish viewers on Fox Network so maybe he can make this work.

Seems like advertising is paying more than the subscription fees these days and that many popular writers chafe under firewalls.

  • Are the days of pay web sites disappearing?
  • What are the upsides?
  • What are the downsides? I can think of a few, most notably the fact that advertiser influence may grow and make many media sites self-censor.
  • What fee sites, besides WSJ (and the huge number that are NSFW which we will leave to Angry Biologist to examine), aren’t likely to switch?
  • And the real question I want to know the answer to: Is Obama, the second political candidate to which I’ve ever given money, going to vanquish the Billary? 🙂 Having given money to McCain in the 2000 primary, I can be like all the fat cats who cover their basses by donating to both sides, only in slow motion and with a lot less $$$.

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ObFascism Tag: Well, much like other political groups out there, fascist ones, don’t usually charge… in coin. But you will pay with your soul…. (I won’t give them the satisfaction of the click-through, though not much shows up under the Google search for “fascism”.)

On top of the wonders of the 12 Angry Men Blog, we have our own special internal mailing list that occasionally produces amusing gems. Every so often, you know, when the stars are right (Cthulu ftahgn!), we choose to share these dialogues with you, our loyal readers.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
What I always wonder about is why these secret cabals have such bizarre goals. Exterminate 99% of humanity in a nuclear holocaust. Brutally enslave 99% of the world. Ruthlessly (but secretly) hold power in all nations of the world through shadowy college fraternities.

I mean, in every case either just plain crazy (nuclear war) or, really, far too much work for any sane person to want to do (everything else).

I too believe there are international conspiracies of bankers, financiers, secret society members, etc. I am confident that groups like the Trilateral Commission, the Rothchilds, the Bilderberg Group, and the Skull and Bones all exist, all have actual members and actual meetings, and have an actual agenda. And here is their deep, dark, secret, terrible agenda: ensure we all get/stay rich, keep meeting in awesome exclusive locations, and keep up a steady supply of good booze, good food, and pretty girls.

Now that’s an agenda I can see a rich, powerful, sneaky bastard actually embracing as worthwhile…

After all, everyone conspires, and for pretty much the same things. Rich people just do it more effectively…

Angry Immigrant
So how about groups that avoid that agenda by their very charter — like Opus Dei? They’ve got to be all about the aliens and total world dominance…

Angry Midwesterner
Well according to a South Park episode I saw, I’d imagine they are after good booze, good food, and pretty boys…

Oops, sorry, I mixed them up with the Republicans…

Angry Overeducated Catholic
…though really this only applies to the Closet Gay wing of the Party, please. There’s also the large “Openly Interested in Pretty Girls” wing, but we try to keep things quiet because the CG wing really hates to be reminded about how much fun we’re having. Also, we don’t want them to know about our stash of good drugs and booze because then we’d have to share. Also, we don’t like to mingle with them because, well, they’re just really creepy, you know. (I mean, geesh, just look at Craig for crying-out-loud)!

Anyway, gotta go, need to arrange the strippers for the bash at Cheneys…

Angry Midwesterner
I’d think a stripper bash would kill Cheney. Besides, isn’t he more interested in watching people kill puppies?

Mildly Piqued Academician
Dude that’s why you take nitro pills. Bringing some candid shots of Larry Craig might work as well.

What happens in a secure undisclosed location STAYS in a secure undisclosed location.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
(Re: Dick Cheney watching people kill puppies)
No, that’s a vicious slander by his enemies. Cheney has no interest in watching people kill anything. He’s a player not a spectator…

And when he gets the urge, it’s not animals he sets his sights on…

Angry Midwesterner
What now you’re going to claim lawyers are humans?

Angry Overeducated Catholic
No, but bloodsucking monsters aren’t animals, the last time I checked…

Angry Virginian
And if bloodsucking monsters don’t even qualify as animals, then lawyers definitely don’t.

Mildly Piqued Academician
LINK: Che-ney t-shirts

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Heh, heh, heh…

If I were Cheney I’d totally buy one of these shirts to wear around the house…

Mildly Piqued Academician
You could look snazzy doing a “Cheney speedball”: Alternating between strippers and pictures of Larry Craig and Barney Frank, the first as a substitute for uppers and the second as a stunningly good substitute for downers. 🙂

The Che-ney thong is pretty good. I was disappointed that my homie Radical Jack didn’t have a Che thong, but I’m sure that if I looked hard enough, one could be found.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Heh. With a Che thong you could express your trendy leftist contempt for capitalism, your trendy conformity to fashion trends, and your trendy objectification of women—at the same time! A bargain for you!

Mildly Piqued Academician
*Three* birds with one stone!

If that’s not worthy of a “Mao More Than Ever” slogan, I don’t know what is! Time to make a revolutionary poster!

As someone who grew up in Wisconsin, I have a hard time taking Iowa seriously. Naturally we had lots of Iowa jokes, many of which do not bear repeating but the most memorable involved finding backronyms for Iowa: Idiots Out Wandering Around, I Owe the World an Apology, etc. Of course, this is the narcissism of small differences talking. You would be hard-pressed to tell the area of Iowa closest to my hometown apart. But at least we could comfort ourselves with the fact that we had a once-great football team, a never-great baseball team, cheese curds and beef sticks (on the interstate, not really elsewhere), and, most importantly, cheap, shitty industrial beer, made in Milwaukee! All Iowa had was corn, corn, and more corn and the Iowa Tests.

But once every four years, it forces itself into the national consciousness in a long standing tradition (since 1972, even).

It’s mouseness roars on Jan. 3, 2008.

Soon, someone’s going to take home the Iowa Caucuses Brass Ring (well, one for each party). Sure, the brass ring came out of a bull’s nose several decades back, when they still had bulls on farms rather than the much safer but less… satisfying and profoundly unnatural modern option. And its predictive ability of who wins the nomination is not all that great, but it does have a certain theatrical je ne sais quoi? Remember, Pat Robertson shot to the national consciousness due to his showing in the Iowa Caucuses in 1988 and Howard Dean famously melted down in the Iowa Caucuses of 2004. Some questions:

  • Is Huckabee going to win? How can he miss with Chuck Norris’ endorsement?
  • Obama set to upset HRC?
  • Who’s going to get the hook exit stage right by Iowa?
  • Any juicy meltdowns?

Time to make your predictions. (Note: Iowa does have the honor of bringing us a good source of information which you may find useful.)

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ObFascism Tag: Iowa is 96% white. If that’s not fascist, I don’t know what is…. 😉

Once upon a time, news trickled out into newspapers or magazines. Then radio brought news bulletins out on a twice or three-times daily schedule. Television merged the fast pace of radio with the graphic content of photographs but didn’t really accelerate things further. Over many years we doubled or tripled our daily dose, but that was about it.

Until cable. With the advent of CNN and Headline News, and all their successors we now had news on an hourly basis. Naturally the Internet would only take that further, with news now literally “on demand.”

So it was only a matter of time until some clever news agency merged various technologies to give us this: a fully embedded, Google map-based, interactive display of currently known hash houses in Florida:

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/php/specialreports/index.php?report_id=791046

Can a full merge of all this with Google Earth be far behind? Will we soon have “breaking news” layers for Google Earth allowing us to zoom in as events unfold? Will Google eventually stream live satellite coverage to allow us to watch police chases and shootouts in real time?

Is there even any downside? (Well apart from the unfortunate inevitability that some poor sap will have his house displayed for national scorn due to a mistyped address…)

Pretty soon will this scenario be not clever fantasy but simply the way it is?

If so, is that good or bad?

Discuss!

I’m going to counterpose two relatively conflicting views that have been floating around among the chattering class(es) recently:

  • Andrew Sullivan’s recent Atlantic Monthly cover story “Goodbye to All That” (subscription required, I think), which argues that Barack Obama’s candidacy represents an opportunity to drop a lot of the paralyzing debates which have infected US politics: Stuff about the Vietnam War (think the election of 2004), the whole “free love” thing, etc.
  • A recent Article in the Washington Post “Boomer In Chief”, which essentially argues that Obama’s candidacy is a continuation of Boomerism.

As an illustration of the ugliness, consider the whole “Woodstock Museum” spat of late between Senators Clinton and McCain. Or better yet, forget it, it’s pretty stupid, but it’s an illustration of the general issue. Given that at least one of us has argued here in the past that Boomer politics leaves much to be desired (and another argued that The Greatest Generation wasn’t so great either), what gives? Obama is definitely a Boomer but he’s a late Boomer, not old enough to have gone to Vietnam, not old enough to have been doing much besides riding a skateboard during the Summer of Love, etc. Still, he’s got some Boomer style. I largely go with Sullivan on this one, but can see merit in the other argument. It’s a pity there’s no one on the Republican side who really parallels Obama, which would let us make some really interesting comparisons.

Thoughts?

Aside: Turns out Tom Brokaw is up to it again….