aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Plotz on why the press is gaga for Obama
David Plotz, in “cocktail chatter” at the end of this week’s Slate Gabfest, tells us he’s figured out why so many of his peers are enraptured by Obama. It’s because…
He’s basically a journalist. You see it...all over the place… you see his ability to be living his own life and yet be making these very wry clever observations about it… which are sometimes just jokes or sometimes have true meaning… but it is a journalist’s way of thinking and I do think that that, even more than his ability to heighten the emotion of a crowd, is why journalists in particular are so gaga over him.
On humanely killed animals
Not that I’m calling you out, but when you write “humanely killed”, um, what?
Well, while it seems abundantly clear to me, I completely understand that it’s certainly not to others (and for some, it never will be).
I think it’s noteworthy that this week we had the largest meat recall in U.S. history. The recall came as a result of a Humane Society video that caught what the USDA later called “egregious violations” of federal animal care regulations.
Here’s an interview with the CEO of The Humane Society on why this video captured the media’s attention when so many of their others do not (among the reasons, it wasn’t too awful to watch). Here’s an LATimes story on the man who shot the video.
For specifics, Temple Grandin has written on redesigning slaughterhouses to make them more humane. I assume my commenter will get the point that if we are going to kill animals for food, it should be done as humanely as possible.
But I gather his real point is to ask, should we be killing animals for food at all? For the moment it is clear where I come down on that question, though I may one day, still, become a vegetarian. It is indeed a very enlightening exercise to look the animal in the eye that you will one day eat. In that I have, in my way, followed Michael Pollan. This from his 2002 NYTimes Magazine piece, An Animal’s Place:
Except for our pets, real animals-animals living and dying-no longer figure in our everyday lives. Meat comes from the grocery store, where it is cut and packaged to look as little like parts of animals as possible. The disappearance of animals from our lives has opened a space in which there’s no reality check, either on the sentiment or the brutality. Several years ago, the English critic John Berger wrote an essay, â€˜’Why Look at Animals?’’ in which he suggested that the loss of everyday contact between ourselves and animals-and specifically the loss of eye contact-has left us deeply confused about the terms of our relationship to other species. That eye contact, always slightly uncanny, had provided a vivid daily reminder that animals were at once crucially like and unlike us; in their eyes we glimpsed something unmistakably familiar (pain, fear, tenderness) and something irretrievably alien. Upon this paradox people built a relationship in which they felt they could both honor and eat animals without looking away.
I don’t know that this one paragraph can capture it, but it can begin to suggest the idea, I think, that there may be an ethical construct for eating animals. From page 325:
To give up eating animals is to give up on these places as human habitat, unless of course we are willing to make complete our dependence on a highly industrialized national food chain. That food chain would be in turn even more dependent than it already is on fossil fuels and chemical fertilizer, since food would need to travel even farther and fertility - in the form of manures - would be in short supply. Indeed, it is doubtful you can build a genuinely sustainable agriculture without animals to cycle nutrients and support local food production. If our concern is for the health of nature - rather than, say, the internal consistency of our moral code or the condition of our souls - then eating animals may sometimes be the most ethical thing to do.
Whether ethical or not, most Americans today—if not most of the people on the planet—eat living creatures. I’d like to see us improve the living standards of those creatures. And when the time comes, I’d like to give them, too, a more humane death.
SEE ALSO: How to avoid meat from factory farms.
Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama & Health Care
This one’s been gone round and round but I have to say I liked the way Melissa Block and Julie Rovner captured it on All Things Considered yesterday. Clinton’s been claiming that Obama’s plan will leave out 15 million people:
BLOCK: Julie. Is that number correct?
ROVNER: Well, Senator Obama and his experts certainly don’t think so. They think that they can cover almost all of the uninsured simply with a voluntary system. But most of the economists say that you can’t do that. That you need some sort of a mandate. And in fact, the urban institute came out with a study just a couple of weeks ago that said having a voluntary system like the one that Senator Obama has proposed would in fact leave uncovered about fifteen and a half million people. So that number is pretty close to what Senator Clinton has been saying.
BLOCK: So, then, Senator Obama raises the question that if you have a plan to mandate insurance for everyone, how do you go about enforcing that?
ROVNER: That’s right, and that’s been his main argument against Senator Clinton’s plan, what it would mean to actually have to enforce that mandate...But what Senator Obama is not saying is that he might have to do that too since he has a mandate in his plan for children, so he might have to go after parent’s wages if they don’t pay the health insurance premiums for their children.
Like him or not, Obama is wrong on this point.
ROVNER: Now, Senator Clinton makes the point that health insurance shouldn’t be any different than any other type of social insurance.
Sen. CLINTON: It would be as though Social Security were voluntary, Medicare, one of the great accomplishments of President Johnson was voluntary. I do not believe that is going to work.
BLOCK: Drawing a tie between what she is proposing for health insurance and programs that have long been accepted as part of our economic and social system.
ROVNER: Yes. And I think this is, you know, the remaining - one of the few differences, I think, between these two candidates is they go down the line toward these two very big primaries.
#12: The cow’s come home
Just home from the abattoir, the cow’s in the trunk (frozen). Our dog, Baci, checks it out.
Last winter we had gone out to the pastuer and picked out the calf, #12. Last year we went in with three couples on a half cow; this time around the three couples bought a whole cow. We took half.
292.5 pounds of beef. $757.89. That’s $2.59 per pound.
Here’s the breakdown:
9 Large (huge!) sirloins
18 Rib steaks
2 sirloin tip roasts
5 chuck roasts
4 rump roasts
3 beef ribs (Doug doesn’t like them so most were ground up, the few we got are for the dogs)
390 burgers in patties (quarter pounders at least, I paid extra to have them made into patties)
9 boneless stew (packages of cut up meat for skewers on the grill, I’m thinking a package is good for 2 or 3 people)
Now, if that seems like a lot to you (and it does to most folks) let me just say that if it were to be eaten just by us, it would come to 1.87 pounds per week per person. BUT… it won’t be eaten just by us. We have people over. Often. And lots of them.
Further, this is grass fed, humanely raised and humanely killed, anti-biotic-free and un-processed meat. So, for example, where once we might have had a salt-laden highly-processed luncheon meat, now we will have a burger.
We had gone through last year’s sixth of a cow in four months and now we have my
big eatin’ super-buff nephew living with us. I’m guessing he and his friends will help us finish this new cow off in no time…
Speaking of spent forces…
Yglesias on Welch on NYT on McCain
I think this is about right—non-reporting of a non-scandalous non-affair aside, the Times story manages to reproduce some not-new information about McCain that most people nonetheless don’t know and should.
Hillary’s graceful, gradual, exit
I have been pro-Hillary, not anti-Obama. And I have been absolutely appalled by the anti-Hillary vehemence of some Obama supporters.
Now Hillary is doing exactly what I expected her to do. She is acting in a way that is completely consistent with why I continue to support her. She is putting her best argument out there, making it forcefully and with dignity. She has not quit like a Romney or Giuliani or Edwards,* but she is positioning herself to leave. She’s got grit. She’s fighting tough. And honorably. She’ll leave when she’s lost.
She will become, I firmly believe, an invaluable Obama ally—maybe even yet his very best asset in the Senate—when he faces the immovable corporate, bureaucratic, media and government establishment in DC and starts to try to enact his agenda of change.
After South Carolina I said that I thought if she didn’t win Super Tuesday she’d get out. It was the “how” that would be tricky. Just prior to February 5, and with increasing frequency since, I have asked those anti-Clinton critics of the Left to watch her closely. I think what we saw in that 60 Minutes interview, and what we saw in the debate in Texas, are the “how” happening right before our eyes…
Hillary Clinton, you are a great American political leader, you are my hope, and you are my hero!
* (Inserted later) I’m ambivalent about including Edwards in this list of losers. Edwards’ was an honorable exit, but it did also mean that his signature issue lost currency in the campaign. Arguably, he’d have been able to keep it more front and center had he stayed in.