Give Me Symbolism, Damn It! The New “Drama-News” Business

People are getting very frustrated with the oil spill that continues to gush into the gulf. It sickens me and its unbelievable to me that they ever let oil rigs off-shore – especially if they didn’t have a tested plan to fix a problem like this. Rachel Maddow had a great review of news footage from years past. This isn’t new, they have never had any good plans to fix this type of problem. It is posted below, watch it if you want some context to the situation. Of course the media never seems to give any context, they treat everything as a new phenomenon, they re-invent the wheel repeatedly.

I’ve heard both James Carville and Harry Shearer screaming and attacking the president, both Louisiana natives who are especially upset that this mess hasn’t been fixed yet. They have every right to feel that way. But I think they are both letting their emotions overwhelm them and have slipped into irrationality. Their anger is misdirected, very much like someone who is helpless and has to lash out at someone. I think they have chosen the wrong people, to even imagine that the President doesn’t take this seriously is just fucking stupid. Both Shearer and Carville are screaming for symbolism, they admitted it in their rants. They want style over substance, damn it. I want visuals, photo ops…maybe President Obama should move the Oval office to Louisiana until this problem is fixed….what, 20 fucking years from now? It’s not like there is anything else the president has to worry about, and I think Barack Obama got his undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering, right?

These cries for a superhuman response, they want Obama to swoop in and fix the problem like magic, are very irrational and like a said, very much a scream for help from someone who feels they have no control, no options. The response from Carville and Shearer and I would add Howard Fineman, is really kind of childish. This situation isn’t cut and dry, there isn’t a magic answer that just isn’t getting done. The experts in this area HAVE been assembled in Houston for many weeks, a combination of experts tapped by the administration, BP experts and experts from other oil companies too. They are weighing all the science, testing, experimenting and they are working with urgency, we may not have a live feed of their work, but it is happening.

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Put Up or Shut Up!

Al Giordano has another excellent piece up that I recommend you read. I plan to post about the oil spill and the “yelling” that is surrounding it soon, stay tuned. But for now, here is a snippet from Al’s latest on the catastrophe in the gulf.

I don’t know how to cap the big oil leak in the Gulf and truth is neither do you. And even if it is capped in five minutes from now, the damage is already done.

That said, as a longtime vocal opponent of off shore oil drilling, and proponent of renewable energy, I wish to publicly disassociate myself from all the newly concerned voices screaming at the top of their lungs that the government must “do something” if they don’t come with concrete suggestions for what exactly can be done. They do not represent me and please don’t ever confuse me with them, okay?

Without an easy solution in sight, and with the knowledge sinking in of just how harmful this oil gusher will be to the Gulf of Mexico, its shores, its fishing and tourism and quality of life, a lot of people seem to be screaming that somebody should yell louder and point their fingers harder.

Okay, just this once, I will point fingers. You know who is to blame in addition to BP and the government that allowed this oil rig to be built? Every single one of us that ever drove a car, got in an airplane, or drank from a plastic bottle (they’re made from petroleum, too). The heavier our “carbon footprints” the greater each of us is to blame. Go yell at yourself now.

Yell at yourself especially if you live in the United States, because you use up twenty times the earth’s resources as people in other countries. You are, therefore, twenty times greater to blame for this civilization’s addiction to oil that created the market for which BP and others went drilling in the seas.

Go read the whole thing, it helped me to dispel some anger.

The Role of Government – BP Edition

As I listen to the right trying to blame anything that happens in the world on the Obama administration, I can’t help but wonder how these people justify their statements in light of their claim from the other side of their mouths that Obama is trying to take over the business sector. Oh, yeah, that’s right, they are BIG FUCKING HYPOCRITES. I’ve been wondering during this whole BP mess what exactly the US government CAN do. I admit that I am ignorant on exactly what powers our government has over a British company who is offshore. I’ve been so sickened by the whole mess that I have been in conscious denial about the whole damn thing. Bob Cesca says much of what I’ve been thinking about in this post about the government taking over the mess from BP…

But why wait? Get in there now. Again, I don’t know the legalities of actually nationalizing BP, but I wouldn’t just take over the capping and cleanup effort, I would take over the whole damn company. They’ve forfeited their corporate status. This is one of the biggest corporate disasters in the history corporate disasters.

Meanwhile, today we’re hearing from Sarah Palin and Pat Buchanan and others that the government ought to get in there and do something. But when the administration actually takes this advice, these same people will be screeching about a “government takeover.” The tea party people will scream about the government “bailing out” BP. Suddenly Palin and the Republicans will rally around Rand Paul and endorse his “un-American” line. The cable news people will hector congressmembers and administration officials about how they plan to pay for the cleanup — what about the CBO?

The stupid will reach all news levels of ear-bleeding hackery.

Of course when the US government does take over the problem, the games will begin in the congress. The Republi-fucks will try some stupid shit like tacking on an amendment to increase off-shore drilling or some abortion funding bullshit. I no longer underestimate the gall or stupidity of the Republicans, they keep sinking to new lows just when I think they’ve reached bottom.

The Role of Government

I have in my bio how I think that government serves a purpose. It often functions very poorly and it’s not always the Republicans who cause it. Democrats have certainly been responsible for it’s malfunctioning over the years. They had control of both houses for over 40 years and had plenty of opportunity to screw things up. But, simply because our government doesn’t always function properly doesn’t mean that we should do away with it or have the knee-jerk reaction to cut it, make it smaller as if somehow that will make it operate more effectively. President Reagan was the one who really started the brainwashing of the right to simply repeat the talking point like robots, “government is bad, musssst stoppp big government”, oh, but don’t take away my social security or medicare.  And of course Reagan went on to expand the government and quadruple the national debt in 8 years. But, the brainwashing helped to mask all that and it continues to this day.

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly had a great post about President Obama’s address at the University of Michigan’s Commencement on this very topic. This is from that…(emphasis mine)

And periodically — in his first State of the Union, at various public events — Obama will, with varying degrees of subtlety, remind the electorate that the government can be a productive, constructive role in advancing the country and empowering its people. The president’s audience in Ann Arbor heard some extended thoughts on this very subject.

“…American democracy has thrived because we have recognized the need for a government that, while limited, can still help us adapt to a changing world…. The democracy designed by Jefferson and the other founders was never intended to solve every problem with a new law or a new program. Having thrown off the tyranny of the British Empire, the first Americans were understandably skeptical of government. Ever since, we have held fast to the belief that government doesn’t have all the answers, and we have cherished and fiercely defended our individual freedom. That is a strand of our nation’s DNA.

“But the other strand is the belief that there are some things we can only do together, as one nation — and that our government must keep pace with the times. When America expanded from a few colonies to an entire continent, and we needed a way to reach the Pacific, our government helped build the railroads. When we transitioned from an economy based on farms to one based in factories, and workers needed new skills and training, our nation set up a system of public high schools. When the markets crashed during the Depression and people lost their life savings, our government put in place a set of rules and safeguards to make sure that such a crisis never happened again. And because our markets and financial system have evolved since then, we’re now putting in place new rules and safeguards to protect the American people.

“This notion hasn’t always been partisan. It was the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, who said that the role of government is to do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves. He would go on to begin that first intercontinental railroad and set up the first land-grant colleges. It was another Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, who said that ‘the object of government is the welfare of the people.’ He is remembered for using the power of government to break up monopolies, and establishing our National Park system. Democrat Lyndon Johnson announced the Great Society during a commencement here at Michigan, but it was the Republican president before him, Dwight Eisenhower, who launched the massive government undertaking known as the Interstate Highway System.”

When you look at our history as a nation and think about the role that government has had as our society has evolved, I don’t understand how so many on the right can just reject outright, the role of government in everything. And the motivation in recent years has been monetary, Republicans want to privatize Social Security. The Wall Street folks have such a great track record, let’s give America’s life savings over to them. Great fucking idea! Why didn’t we think of that before? I hope the Republicans pick that mantle back up and run with it because it will be a good wake up call for many in the country who were brainwashed, maybe they can be de-programmed with a public debate on the role of government vs. the greedy private sector. And the private sector is all about greed. There are some exceptions for sure, but the bottom line is the master of all in the private sector. Here is more from Steve Benen’s piece which has an extended excerpt from President Obama’s speech at U of M.

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Political Memory Lane

Booman had a post similar to this and it inspired me to think back on my political junky-ness.

1968 – This is the first election I was aware of, I was 6 years old. That year had a huge impact on my life. My father died of a heart attack, my oldest brother went off to Vietnam and my next oldest brother went off to college at Berklee College of Music in Boston, the Vietnam war was on TV, my other brothers were marching in anti-war protests. (5 boys in the family) I have impressions of Chaos and doom that Nixon would win. I told you so. :)

1972 – I was 10 and spent the summer working at McGovern Headquarters in Muskegon, Michigan – stuffing envelopes and handing out flyers at grocery stores, I remember the same sense of doom and depression because of the war.

1976 – I didn’t pay a lot of attention at 14 but vividly remember coming home on election night and watching the returns with my mom, the first feminist in the country, born in 1923. (I know there were many others before her, but she was way ahead of her time) I was surprised that Carter won, I remember assuming he would lose and was pretty excited that night.

1980 – Carter, Carter, Carter…I was very active in the election, Reagan was going to be the end of civilization as we know it. A senior in High School, I was fully addicted to politics, eating and breathing it.

1984 – Must stop Reagan and his puppetmasters….anyone but Reagan. Saw Mondale in Lansing Michigan where I was going to Michigan State University, I was over the top political junky, buying every paper I could find, watching every political show I could find on TV. Those days it was Sunday morning shows and the MacNeil Lehrer Newshour. In 1985, I took a General Business Law class with a professor at MSU who was one of Reagan’s speechwriters in the ’84 campaign. He graduated #1 from the University of Michigan Law School. We would have debates about the election, we re-fought the election during class. It was pretty crazy debating him about politics, I was way out of my league. He gave me an A in the class even though I really deserved a C.

1988 – Dismal year, I wasn’t happy with any of the candidates, really. Dukakis had no sex appeal and the electorate was coming off the Hollywood president, the empty suit. Dukakis was stiff, wonky…but I agreed with him and tried to help him get elected.

1992 – Clinton, Clinton, Clinton….I liked him a lot. I didn’t like some of his moderate positions like welfare reform and too many tax breaks for business, easing of regulations..but I did like the fact that he was intelligent, hands on, persuasive, telegenic, and not of the World War II era. When he came to Grand Rapids Michigan and spoke, I was interview by the Grand Rapids Press (GR is Amway land, Devos and Van Andel-ville), the paper ended up using a bunch of quotes from me that were picked up across the state. I told them how I wanted a president who didn’t live through the “Great War”, someone who was evolved beyond the “red scare” mentality that was still lingering.

1996 – Clinton all the way, more out of a sense of defending him from the bullshit from Republican attacks, lesser of two evils to some extent.

2000 – Wasn’t thrilled that Gore got the nomination, Mr. Excitement and I thought the Republicans did a great job picking Ole Bushie boy, he was considered moderate at the time, compassionate conservative bullshit. Of course I was obsessed with the recount, bastards….insert expletives here.

2004 – Depression, Kerry was a horrible pick, WTF were the democrats thinking, I guess the field of candidates wasn’t that great to begin with. I think I originally wanted Dick Gephardt and was certainly intrigued by Howard Dean, but he melted down too quickly. I think he quit too soon. Kerry was way too stiff. I was in Baltimore MD visiting when a young guy named Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the democratic convention. I told my wife that he was going to be the first black president, we were both blown away by him.

2008 – I supported Obama before he even announced his candidacy, I even made a sign that I put on my office door at the university where I work before he even announced. I gave money to the campaign and certainly did my part commenting on blogs, but I was too busy with my many projects and jobs to help out much. Unlike many in my party, I think he’s doing a masterful job, not perfect, but I don’t expect perfection.