Love this photo of the first lady of Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols, with President Obama; nice to see he can do the Vulcan salute too, I suspect his predecessor Dubyah was still struggling with the notion of opposable thumbs too much to be able to do that. I wonder if he asked her about her encounter with Dr Martin Luther King Jr and how he told her to stay on the original show in the 60s even though she felt her character didn’t get many lines because just having a black face – and a woman too – on prime time TV in the US during that turbulent era, let alone one who was a senior bridge officer, was an important, viisble role model for young coloured Americans. And you didn’t say no to King. (via FP blog via Live for Films)
This reworking of Obama’s iconic election campaign poster to show his utter hypocrisy in being a Democratic leader presiding over a country where young teenage student girls get pepper sprayed in the face on their own campus simply for peacefully exercising their right to free assembly and speech, or signing legislation (and very sneakily doing it over New Year when he hoped most wouldn’t notice) that will make it possible for the authorities to arrest and detain not only those pesky foreign radicals and terrorists without proper judicial oversight or charges, but also US citizens. The Land of the Free my fecking arse in parsley sauce…I thought back at election time that the euphoria over Obama’s election was foolish – sure it was better than having Bush there but I thought the hopes people piled on his administration were unrealistic, not to mention foolish and sure enough he has disappointed endlessly since then. Sad to think at the next US election I wouldn’t prefer to see him re-elected because he deserves to be but simply because he is a lesser evil (just) of the rampantly right-wing, Tea Party numpties in the Republican Reptile Party… Sigh…
Classic war film The Battle of Midway was on this weekend and as the feature film uses some genuine wartime footage (notably in the ariel combat scenes) it reminded me of the legendary Hollywood director John Ford, who shot some of the most famous American films of the mid 20th century (and is largely responsible for the visual look of the classic Western). Ford volunteered to take a documentary film crew to the tiny island of Midway ahead of the expected Japanese attack, to record it for the US Navy. He didn’t just make fictional tales of combat and heroism, he actually dodged bullets and bombs to record what would be a pivotal moment in the war in the Pacific, when the US fleet, so badly damaged after the sneak attack at Pearl Harbour the year before, struck back and seriously wounded the seemingly omnipotent Imperial Japanese Navy. The war in the Pacific would rage on for several more bloody years and cost both sides dearly, but this was one of those pivotal moments when the Americans showed their enemies that they weren’t the soft, decadent people they had assumed but a ferocious force determined to finish what the bad guys had started (ah, the days when we didn’t worry about the morality of US foreign policy because it was a clear cut us and them, good guys versus the bad guys war…). Checking the web I found you can actually watch Ford’s original short documentary footage online – no CGI and special effects here, no actors who have spent a few weeks in a mock boot camp to be trained, this is the real thing and recorded at enormous risk. Makes James Cameron going to the depths of the oceans in a submersible look kind of tame in directing derring-do terms, doesn’t it?
Just how buggered is the United States Senate? George Packer in the New Yorker offers up some depressing reading on an institution utterly ruined by its own labyrinthian structures – both the physical building and the arcane rules and customs – and the increasing ways Senators, rather than doing their actual job of representing the interest of the citizens, spend little time on actual legislation and more on fund raising, publicity or goodness knows what else in their various cubby holes secreted around the building. And when they do troop into the chamber they spend inordinate amounts of time and effort to utilise obscure rules to ruin their opponents’ bills. Democratic choice said your party doesn’t have the majority? No problem, just use arcane old rules to wreck possible legislation by procedural means. Meanwhile important matters simply do not get discussed and dealt with. And they wonder why so many people don’t bother to vote?
And before you think hey, you’re not American, what does it matter to you that they can’t actually deliver the Great Democracy that they like to tell us all they do better than everyone else? Because some of those possible acts that get screwed up affect other nations – financial reform, foreign policy and aide, environmental protection. And because this sort of nonsense goes on in pretty much every parliament and senate in the democratic world to a lesser extent – and there’s that old worry that it will only get worse both here and there. And it doesn’t help anyone who believe in democracy if the institutions meant to serve it turn out to be full of self serving arseholes with no interest in representing the people and doing a good job. And you thought Mr Smith had a hard time when he went to Washington? (via Nick Smale)
The Daily Dish has an interesting compilation of the many bare-faced lies told by Sarah Palin during her political career. It never ceases to amaze me how brazenly some politicians will simply lie even over pretty easily checkable claims, from relatively small ones about meetings right up to fabricated justifications for wars. And I’m always depressed how many supporters continue to believe in these duplicitous toads even when they have been caught out time after time lying to the public, a sad indicator of the fact that many voters are indeed just as stupid as these lying politicians obviously think they are. (via Boing Boing)
“Palin lied when she claimed that Alaska has spent “millions of dollars” on litigation related to her ethics complaints; in fact, that figure is much, much lower, and she had initiated the most expensive inquiry.
Palin lied when she denied that the Alaska Independence Party supports secession and denied that her husband had been a member; in fact, even the McCain campaign noted that the party’s very existence is based on secession and that Todd was a member for seven years.”
My friend Dan Goldman, artist on Shooting War (my favourite graphic novel of 2007), 08: a Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail and the psychedelic online comic Kelly on webcomics collective Act-I-Vate, has delivered a special treat for the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States today (to be swiftly followed by the solving of all the world’s problems within a month), a short comic with President Obama set in 2012, riffing on his theme of change and using some of Dan’s very cool colouring effects that he lets rip with on Kelly, specially on Tor.com.
With only days to go Sarah ‘pitbull with lipstick (very expensive lipstick) Palin has been fooled by Canadian comedian Marc Antoine Audette into thinking she was on a phone call with French president Nicolas Sarkozy, which went out on a Montreal radio station. The whole Palin thing – utter lack of a grasp of geopolitics, foreign relations, her dubious record (the library interference when she was a humble mayor, possible misuse of family connections in jobs, trying to avoid freedom of information requests on her work by using personal email accounts rather than official government ones), her hideously intolerant right wing stance, her love of shooting animals for leisure, the pretence at being an ordinary working mom while spending more on clothes and hairstyling than many families bring home in a year, her apparent lack of knowledge of what the duties of the VP actually are – would be funny, except even after all this there are still a lot of Americans who not only would vote for her, they are talking about how she should run for president in 4 or 8 years…
was declaring to the reporter he wouldn’t vote for Obama not on political grounds but because ‘he was a Muslim’.I can’t help but wonder at the sheer stupidity of some people, but then again a lot of those numpties are the ones who voted for a retarded chimp to let in Dubyah (well, second time, first time his brother and dad’s friends in the Supreme Court handed the election to him) and before that voted a dreadful B movie elderly actor who delighted on ratting out his fellows during the McCarthy era into the top job. Watching one news programme some ignorant redneck woman When the reporter pointed out he had been a regular church-goer for many years she said that didn’t count. No, she wasn’t a bigoted, racist cow at all… Although being someone who dislikes organised religions of all types I always find it quite disturbing how much relgion plays into American politics to begin with anyway, especially in a country which likes to boast how state and church are seperated by the Constitution.
Thankfully, despite idiots like Cardinal Winning constantly sticking his oar into Scottish politics (you have your own opinion, but stop trying to tell groups how they should be thinking and voting) its not the same here; in fact when Tony Blair started talking about his mate God we all got rather uncomfortable because its a private matter. And because we think a politician is meant to be answerable to the citizen, not some mythic deity.
BBC Radio 4 has been running a fascinating series entitled “America, Empire of Liberty“, presented by historian David Reynolds, which I’ve been listening to over the last weeks. The actual history, leading up to, through and just after the War of Independence and the actual establishment of a country out of a disparate groups of revolutionaries and often competing and arguing states is interesting enough, but the series has also done what any good history should do – present the links between the Then and the Now. History is not a static, dry study but something dynamic, events from decades and centuries before constantly bleeding into the present the the future yet to be born, which makes it a shame so many people tend to ignore it (and that escalates to tragedy when we see what our so called leaders do in ignorance of historical precedent).
Take for example on of last week’s episodes – some parts of the series have touched on US history I was familiar with, but this part I didn’t know: the Aliens and Seditions Act, passed by Alexaner Hamilton’s Federalist Party in the 1790s as debate raged over the newly independent US’s stance on the growing global conflict between France and the British Empire. This largely forgotten act delivered unheard of powers to central government (and at a time when US central government was very weak, by design, most power designed by Jefferson et al to be held more locally at state and county levels, not like today where the executive has steadily accumulated powers to itself). Basically a 1790s War on Terror (WOT?) it allowed the president to deport aliens without right of appeal and to silence criticism in the interests of the country. The parallels between the 18th century and the draconian changes to civil liberties in the laws of the US, UK and other countries in the post 9-11 world are disturbingly familiar.
Likewise debates over a newly minted land of so-called liberty happily ignoring the rights of women (even when President Adams wife implored him to remember that a land of democratic liberty which ignored one entire gender was pure hypocricy. She was, of course, ignored by the male leaders, many of whom, truth be told, for all their fine rhetoric, were not overly mad on giving all men the vote, let alone women, unless they were the right kind of men (well bred, well off, basically the New World’s aristocracy), thus again repeating old mistakes even back then. And then there was the odious issue of slavery, not to mention the way the native American Indians would be treated…
Meanwhile on the TV the BBC has just started a new series by Simon Schama, “The American Future: a History“. The first episode also linked the Then and Now, exploring the seemingly insatiable consumerism of the US and its almost unshakable belief that it can endlessly exploit natural resources throughout its history, noting how this belief is slowly (and perhaps a little too late) being shaken as drought in the West means constantly shriking water for more and more people, to say nothing of the over-dependence on oil driven not only by car culture but an over-sized (and extremely inefficent) car culture.
Schama brings us right up to date with both Obama and McCain’s campaign comments on climate change and resource management and comparing to a century or so before with one man telling the good and great of Westward Expansion that there simply was not enough water in the land for all the cities and the farms they planned (he was booed of stage, but he was right) and in more recent history replaying what Jimmy Carter told America during his presidency (but more Americans preferred to listen to a B movie actor at that election than a man who had been a farmer and actually knew what he was talking about in terms of managing the land).
I missed noticing this until today, but Guantanamo Bay’s odious prison camp marked its sixth anniversary on Friday, an event marked by Amnesty International. Gee, I feel so much safer, hasn’t the world become a much better place as a result of this place and the rest of Bush’s foreign policy (not to mention their State Department announcing that under US law it is legal for them to go to another country, including Britain and kidnap someone they think is a suspect)? If only Gitmo made as much sense as most six year olds… (via Boing Boing)
I came to this story by Johan Hari of the Independent via Boing Boing – Hari joined a regular cruise organised by the ultra right wing National Review in the US, a cruise ship full of rich, white, right wing Americans. I have no problem with the fact that people hold different views from what I would consider reasonable (not to mention humane and moral), but these people are off the scale for willful ignorance, arrogance, bigotry, stupidity and an ability to tune out real events in a manner that would make even Fox News blush in shame.
If they lived in their own little warped world that would be fine, but cry for the world because these are the sorts of shagwits who have urged on the foreign policies of the current US administration and if anyone disagrees they are obviously communist-liberal-muslim-sand-nazis out to destroy The American Way Of Life (TAWOL), which obviously for them includes freedom of expression as long as you express nothing but agreement with them. Warning, reading this article may make you very angry and demand the public disembowelling of Rush Limbaugh.
Al Franken has confirmed that he will run for office as a senator of Minnesota in the next elections. Al probably isn’t as well known in the UK as, say, Michael Moore, but I’ve been a big fan of his for years. Al wrote the brilliantly satirical take on the rabid right wing media in the US (you know, those racist, sexist numpties who flat out fib on air) with Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (highly recommended; the audio book version, read by Al, is even funnier). Even if you haven’t read this you may have heard of it because the subtitle was “a fair and balanced look” which pissed off Murdoch’s Fox empire (and we know how hard that is because they are such a warm, cuddly and inclusive organisation). Why? Well apart from the fact that some of the more high profile media targets he went after were broadcast by Fox in the US (they have been told off by media monitors here since they started re-broadcasting them to the UK for the biased opinions and lack of facts) and also because the ultra-right wing Fox News has the slogan ‘fair and balanced’ in it.
So their Monty Burns’ type gaggle of evil lawyers swooped and tried to get the book banned before publication in the US a few years back, which shows how much they believe in freedom of expression and debate in a democratic society. The judge laughed them out of court saying that this was pretty much the definition of ‘fair use’ for satire and there was no case; in the meantime the media coverage of this fiasco pushed the book to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list in the US before it even came out. As own goals go it was up there with the time some of Fox’s lawyers wanted to go after those left-wing pinkoes who write the Simpsons for always portraying Fox as a channel of right-wing news and mediocre, low-brow programming. Until someone pointed out to said lawyers that the Simpsons was actually a Fox show… And of course, years before this, back in the late 90s during the old dial-up internet days those same lawyers went after fans who ran sites celebrating the only two Fox shows anyone had heard of, the Simpsons and the X-Files and told them all to shut up shop, how dare they use pictures etc of Fox properties. So, yes, they were so stupid they attacked fans who were promoting their products free for them; today a PR person would be your best friend for running such a site.
I wonder how Al Franken will do with his campaign; I’d like to see him get into office – he certainly can’t do a worse job than the other numpties who routinely end up in office in most countries. The subject was raised in the recent documentary And God Spoke where a team followed Al around and the subject of possibly running for office one day came up a couple of times (I caught it at the Edinburgh Film Festival last summer). I wonder if we can get Mark Thomas to be an MP here in Blighty?
My mate Ken forwarded this to me:
President Bush Sells Louisiana Back to the FrenchPresident Bush and a giddy Jacques Chirac shake hands on the deal. BATON ROUGE, LA. – The White House announced today that President Bush has successfully sold the state of Louisiana back to the French at more than double its original selling price of $11,250,000. “This is a bold step forward for America,” said Bush. “And America will be stronger and better as a result. I stand here today in unity with French Prime Minister Jack Sharaq, who was so kind to accept my offer of Louisiana in exchange for 25 million dollars cash.”
The state, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild. “Jack understands full well that this one’s a ‘fixer upper,’” said Bush. “He and the French people are quite prepared to pump out all that water, and make Louisiana a decent place to live again. And they’ve got a lot of work to do. But Jack’s assured me, if it’s not right, they’re going to fix it.”The move has been met with incredulity from the beleaguered residents of Louisiana.
However, President Bush’s decision has been widely lauded by Republicans. “This is an unexpected but brilliant move by the President,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. “Instead of spending billions and billions, and billions of dollars rebuilding the state of Louisiana, we’ve just made 25 million dollars in pure profit.”“This is indeed a smart move,” commented Fox News analyst Brit Hume. “Not only have we stopped the flooding in our own budget, we’ve made money on the deal. Plus, when the god-awful French are done fixing it up, we can easily invade and take it back again.”The money gained from ‘T’he Louisiana Refund’ is expected to be immediately pumped into the rebuilding of Iraq.
This article submitted by BSNews contributor Ben Spierenburg 9/06/05 Headline by Reid Carrick
Which kind of reminded me of something that hopped into my mind while singing in the shower this morning (well, the shower radio needs new batteries). To be sung to the tune of American Pie:
“Well, it’s bye bye to being high and dry,
Tried to plug the levee with my Chevy but the tide was too high,
And good ole’ George was on TV in a tie,
Said please help us, Mr President, but he didn’t even try…”
And please don’t write in telling me I’m a sick puppy. For starters we all know that already and secondly I’m not having a go at the poor souls in New Orleans, but sometimes events are so bad you just need to be able to make the odd joke about them.