Big Smoke

’cause it’s hard to see from where I’m standin’

Fast Food, Fast Music

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Intimidation?

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There’s been a bit of a furor over intimidation tactics against Prop 8 supporters during the federal district court battle to strike it down, to the point where conservative witnesses are dropping out of the case for the second time.

To that I ask: What intimidation?

Plenty of articles cite the fear, but the only article that cites what, specifically, is to be feared is the San Francisco Gate, which says that some businesses run by Prop 8 contributing supporters are being boycotted, and that some internet trolls found one of the conservatives’ websites and wrote some very angry comments.

If that’s the sort of intimidation that holds up democracy, call me a terrorist.

I don’t see bricks through windows, meeting family members in person, beatings, sabotage or even phone calls at home at 3am. In a country where Blacks were beaten and hung for attempting to vote, union rallies were met with fist fights, clubs and guns and abortion doctors and civil rights workers (and, for that matter, gay men) were actually found and murdered, the sort of “intimidation” these conservatives are facing, if any*, is incredibly mild.

I propose that these witnesses know exactly what they’re doing: They’re getting more leverage NOT testifying than they would if they DID testify. Fuck them.

*Historically, the side advocating tolerance is the one targeted for violence and intimidation, which makes these current claims doubly laughable.

Actually,

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to put it succinctly, the only problem is that nothing is in the way of this liberal elite radical socialist madrassa-trained Islamic Kenyan Nazi (who, by the way, is Black) from forcing his agenda down America’s throat, and that his administration has all the resources they need to deal with the current oil spill* (right after he wins both wars, stops torture, bans lobbyists, restores faith in government, saves the economy, ends corruption, resurrects the Democratic party, quells American fear, solves the Middle East crisis, fixes health care, bails out the states, balances the budget and gives us all jobs).

Who does he think he is, king?

*And really, us liberals know that all Obama really needs to do is part the Gulf of Mexico so that BP engineers can just walk up and plug the pipe, but that he’s holding back so he can put the screws to evil capitalist corporations…

The Narrative

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Obama gave a speech last night to address not so much the BP Oil Crisis, but the media narrative surrounding his involvement with it, for the two have little in common. That didn’t stop the narrative from plodding right on, but then nothing Obama can do is ever remotely in the right direction (so sayeth the narrative).

a) The Oil Spill was somehow Obama’s fault. This allows opponents to draw parallels to Hurricane Katrina (because there are only two sides to every issue and every partisan move has a direct analog, right?). Yes, the government bears responsibility, but not in the way the narrative implies.

b) The government has the resources to address the spill, with the implication that it isn’t mobilizing those resources. The governor of Louisiana got the troops he asked for. The appropriate authorities have put up barriers all along the Gulf. The government leaned on BP to provide billions in an escrow account (arguably the biggest hostile government takeover of private assets in Obama’s administration to date, yet the least controversial) to pay damages, and yelled at every American oil corporation for having basically the same policies as BP. It remains to be seen whether MMS and other regulatory agencies will have cleaned house by the time all this is done, but that’s basically the extent of government involvement. The issue, after all, is not whether the government can plug the hole itself (it can’t; nobody can), but whether it can stop corporations from breaking what they can’t fix.

c) Obama’s leadership is in question due to his impotence in the problem. I voted for Obama because he was a fresh, vigorous Democrat who looked like a strong leader, sure, but also because there was no way in hell I’d ever vote for the GOP. Obama’s inauguration was historic, sure, but aside from the warm glow of that night, nobody actually believed he was Jesus and JFK rolled up into one. Indeed, such sounds more like a GOP sneer on how strongly liberals supported Obama during his candidacy rather than how liberals saw him. So, to hold him to such a standard where he’s able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and swim to the ocean floor and beat it into submission is disingenuous at best.

There’s things to get Obama on – his criminal negligence of continued illegal detentions, his hawkish stance towards Afghanistan, etc – but he’s a politician, and one with the worst job since Hoover left office, coupled with a far more hostile congress and public than FDR ever had to deal with. We’re at the point where the GOP narrative has so poisoned the well for all government (after defanging regulatory agencies, defunding legacy projects and decades of media campaigns devaluing government initiative) that we have an entire “movement” of so-called Tea Partiers who don’t know what they want except that DC should burn. We’re at the point where reaching across the aisle means liberal Dems making deals with NDC conservative Dems, because the GOP are gleefully and cynically sabotaging government – delegitimizing the current administration – rather than looking to govern.

The idea that the same pundits can criticize Obama for not doing enough (whether it’s the bailouts, the recovery plan, the health care bill, or the BP response) while simultaneously blocking his every move is insane, but that’s the current narrative.

Goodbye Gulf

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Long story short, BP can’t just cap the spill because the seabed’s cracking, implying further damage to the line below the sea floor. This means if they capped it, the back pressure would blow a hole in the sea floor that would not only send up ten times more oil but be almost impossible to stop.

Y’know, maybe the Mayans were on to something.

Consequently, 59% of those polled by Gallup/USA think that BP should be forced to pay the entirety of the clean-up costs, even if it puts them out of business. This prompts the question: What the hell does the remaining 41% think?

Generation “Me”

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Not terribly long ago, Judith Warner and Lisa Belkin whined on the New York Times that Generation Y, the Millenials, born from 1982 onwards, have an inflated opinion of themselves and are spoiled brats who are incapable of putting their noses to the grindstone and work in today’s economy.

Ironic position: A couple of boomers who work for a dying industry giving reactionary vitriol. It’s like physically watching someone lose relevance.

But because it strikes home, what with me being an under-employed 20-something with a massive ego and all, I’m inclined to fire right back, so here goes: Women, you’re dead wrong not only about my generation but about the economy my generation is so “haughtily” rejecting.

  • We do not job-hop. We are forced to move jobs constantly because promotion within the office is practically unheard of and job security is non-existent. With 35 years of de-unionization and the most severely depressed job market since the Great Depression, there is no guarantee that, five years down the line, the office will be loyal to you, so there is no incentive (and indeed very much a risk) for you to be loyal to the office. Every recession since boomers became politically prominent has resulted in a drop in employment. Every recovery has not seen a corresponding rise in employment. When those offices found they could still work with a smaller workforce, they learned not to hire. When they realized that massive unemployment means anybody will jump at temp work, they stopped offering full-time jobs with benefits. We’re a generation of freelancers not out of choice, but out of necessity.
  • We do not reject good work. There is no good work. Skilled blue-collar jobs have almost entirely dried up and most white-collar offices hire legions of unpaid interns, depressing the job market in just the sorts of entry-level positions the young and newly-educated require, thus forcing those of us who are independently wealthy into a form of modern indentured servitude while forcing those of us who are not independently wealthy into other professions (mostly of the severely underpaid pink collar variety). We cannot afford to work for less than a living wage, so it should come to no surprise that if we’re to work for work’s sake, we would expect there to be intrinsic benefits involved – that the work pleases us politically, for instance, or that it interests us intellectually.
  • We do not oversell ourselves. Our generation has paid more for education than anybody in the history of mankind and received less training than every previous American generation. The boomers could expect to have government-subsidized tertiary education which they could use to study liberal arts with the assumption that the future jobs they held would train them (and pay them!) on the spot. Our generation has saddled themselves with more debt than any other and then applied for those same jobs, except now those employers expect all training to be done on the applicant’s dime prior to employment. If we seem inexperienced to the travails of the market according to boomers, perhaps it’s because there’s no means to gain it and pay for our education.

Now, neither Warner nor Belkin have specifically mentioned this in their topics of complaint, but it’s on the same line of reasoning:

  • We are not politically apathetic. We’re just prematurely cynical towards a political climate that’s stuck on boomer issues, filled with aging boomers that have been in the beltway since before we were born and known most of all for having given themselves tax breaks while raiding the budget put in place by the generation before them (thanks, Reaganomics!), on the expectation that our generation is to be comparatively “austere.” (That term’s getting popular. Who wants to bet some marketing company was commissioned to replace “budget cuts” with “austerity” in order to soften the lexiconic blow?)
  • We are not socially apathetic. We just express our outrage at the current culture differently than that other ignored generation (Remember Generation X? Specifically, remember why it was called Generation X?).  They tuned out. We’re more sneaky. There’s a reason social satire is more common now than sincere speech.

Simply put, we’re not haughty. We just refuse to supplicate ourselves to the rules of a generation that has given us the corporate consumer culture that so threatens to eat us alive on the argument that they meant well some 40-odd years ago. You made this bed, ladies. You can’t complain when we sleep on it.

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