aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, February 24, 2008
“Solving” Global Climate Change
I’m reading Big Foot in The New Yorker. I’ll comment later. In the meantime, it reminded me I wanted to post this provocative Ted Talk from environmental scientist David Keith titled A Surprising Idea for “Solving” Global Climate Change…
Georgia’s Jack Kingston dishes dirt
Georgia’s Rep. Jack Kingston (R)—among the most conservative members of the House, he opposes embryonic stem cell research, wants the Ten Commandments displayed in Congressional Chambers, and thinks the 5 day work week is fine for you and me but not for he, his own patriotism does not extend so far as to permit him to vote for a House resolution praising the Georgia arch-rival Florida Gators (the vote was 414-1)— parroted the claim on Friday night’s Bill Maher show that Barack Obama refuses to say the pledge of allegiance to the American flag. [video]
This is one of a number of well-known email hoaxes circulating about Obama. Steve Benen:
Now, I’ve seen Kingston interviewed on several occasions, and one realizes that he’s either frighteningly dumb or he’s pretending to be frighteningly dumb. The difference may actually matter in a case like this - if one assumes the moronic things he says is part of an elaborate act, then one can safely assume he knows the truth but prefers to lie. If his imbecilic remarks are genuine, then Kingston is probably not a liar, but rather someone just barely sharp enough to tie his shoes in the morning.
Benen points to The Huffington Post’s Ryan Davis, who was in the studio for the Maher filming:
Let’s take a close look at Kingston’s nonsense.
-- Rambling on about Michelle Obama’s patriotism, Kingston either lied or is completely misinformed about her “pride” remark, “She could have jumped up and said ‘You know what, that’s not what I meant to say and I’m sorry if people are twisting it - this is politics,’ but she hasn’t said anything!” That’s totally untrue; both Sen.Obama and Michelle have responded to the comments. “I know I wouldn’t be here. Standing here. Barack and I, our stories wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for a fundamental belief in pride in this country and what it stands for,” she said on Feb 20th while campaigning in Rhode Island.
-- Kingston tells us that Obama refuses to say the Pledge Of Allegiance, citing the “famous picture” of Obama not saluting the flag. This rumor originated in an anonymous e-mail and has since been debunked repeatedly by the mainstream media. The truth is that the photo is actually of Obama singing the Star Spangled Banner. It’s sad to see any elected official still parroting the lies in that now-notorious chain e-mail.
-- The Congressman says Obama wants to “Bomb Pakistan” - which is a broad oversimplification of the truth. “Barack Obama has never said he would “attack Pakistan.” According to Obama’s website, he has said that he would attack “high-level terrorist targets” even within Pakistan, a policy which has been endorsed in the Washington Post by the Co-Chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton.
-- Attacking Obama’s legislative record, Kingston tells quite a few lies. “There is nothing out there that he’s done,” is an old lazy favorite. “Obama hasn’t reached across party lines” is a canard Republican Senators like Bond, Coburn, Hagel, and Lugar would disagree with since each of them have worked closely on bills with Senator Obama. Kingston says Obama didn’t oppose the Military Commissions Act, but he did oppose it. (Kingston talks lots about experience for a guy who spent his non-political life as an insurance salesman.)
Does Obama have a patriotism problem?
The AP’s Nedra Pickler asks disgraced Republican dirty-trickster Roger Stone for his opinion. Stone you’ll remember is the guy who got caught making threatening phone calls to New York Gov. Spitzer’s (D-NY) elderly father and last month set up an anti-Hillary group with the acronym C-U-N-T.
Surprisingly enough, Stone thinks the answer is yes.
Personal responsibility just can’t do it!
I’m comfortable with my decision to continue eating meat. But I don’t honestly think it makes one whit of difference in changing the industrial food system. Nor do I think it would change the industrial food system if I chose, instead, to become a vegetarian.
I would encourage you and my friends and my neighbors and my countrymen to also make ethical personal decisions regarding food. But even if you all do I’m still pessimistic about our ability to make a difference. That’s because the problem I see is an entrenched systemic problem. It’s not an individual choice problem.
The system is big and it is powerful and it’s broken. But we can’t hardly see that because we’re so busy taking on the blame for all the bad choices we make.
Of course, we can only choose among the options presented. And of course our choices are influenced by the billions spent on advertising and proximity and placement and policy and the myriad of other factors over which we have so little power as to be virtually powerless.
It’s the system that must be changed. So good for each and every one of us who acts ethically. But let’s not forget that with each and every one of those ethical choices, the fight has just begun.
On issues of our industrial food system I am informed by Michael Pollan. I am also informed by Eric Schlosser.
In his keynote speech, “The True Cost of Cheapness,” to the Fall 2006 Food, Ethics and the Environment Conference at Princeton, Schlosser concisely addressed the limits of personal responsibility and how it plays into the interests of our corporate food system.
I have quoted it often:
[from the podcast at 01:02:13] For the last 25 years we have been preached a gospel of personal responsibility and personal freedom. That is what has been drummed into our head for the past twenty-five years. Personal responsibility. And I believe in that. I believe in personal responsibility and personal freedom.
But I’m now worried that my own work has stressed that element too much. And this whole idea that every purchase that you make is a vote, and that every purchase that you make has a ripple effect, and that we all must be responsible and ethical consumers. Well, I agree with that, but at the same time there is a pressure on all of us to be pure, to be morally pure, to think that we’re really going to change the world by what we buy and...it gets really hard to be pure. It’s complicated. Well, should I be buying organic or local or should I… What should I do?
The pressure is on us and I think that what we buy can make a difference and that we are responsible and that we do have an obligation. But I think that changing the world by what you buy is only going to go so far. And it only works to a point. And after that point I think it is delusion that as consumers we are going to change that system fundamentally or we are going to change the world.
Missing from the discourse, missing from the dialog over the last twenty-five years have been a couple of other phrases. One of them is “corporate responsibility"Â� and the other one is “collective responsibility.” And I stand here honestly saying that I’m not pure, my purchases are not ideal, and maybe some of you in this room are pure but it’s hard to be pure in this country in the year 2006. But ultimately the problems that...I’ve tried to outline are not due to individual faults. They’re really not. They have been caused by big systems. Systems of belief, systems of production, systems of making a profit. And without looking at them from a systemic approach there is no possibility of meaningful change...what we do as consumers isn’t going to make a profound difference. And I think we cannot allow this movement surrounding ethical eating to focus only on our personal responsibility and on consumer power.
Emphasis mine. What was true in 2006 is still true in 2008 and will still be true in 2010 unless we do something.
I fully expect a Democrat in the White House. Then it will be our time to put up or shut up. That system is not going to want to give. But we’re going to have to give it all we got!
How to avoid meat from factory farms
As you may have already read, yesterday I brought home half a cow (or, what has become, at this point, a side of beef).
I was lucky in that I got to meet and know the farmer, pick out the calf when he was young, then visit and watch him grow. This is grainy cellphone video of Doug hand-feeding him grass, and here are photos of our Italian Greyhounds who, oddly enough, enjoyed frolicking with the cattle.
We weren’t precisely inspired to do this by Michael Pollan—a set of fortuitous circumstances has it that in this small town I work with both the neighbor of the farmer and the live-in girlfriend of the owner of the abattoir—but Pollan’s writing has informed us all along the way.
I’ve written a lot on industrial meat production, and it’s very interesting to see how people react. Some people react by saying, “That’s it, I can’t eat meat anymore.” Other people look at this and they put it in a box. They don’t make the emotional connection between their 99-cent double cheeseburger and this process that we’ve seen in [last week’s Humane Society video depicting needless machine-like cruelty at slaughterhouses]. Still other people decide they want to still eat meat, but they want to eat meat they feel good about. They want alternatives. Luckily for us, there are some really good ones. There is meat produced in small batches, from ranchers that keep their animals not in feedlots standing in their own manure but in pastureland. They are slaughtered in small plants, just a few head a day.
He says even at farmers’ markets the only way to know for sure is to visit or to ask:
I think if you find meat at the farmers’ market, and it’s grass-fed meat, you are going to meet the rancher there and ask him. Ultimately, that’s the only real assurance: talk to the person who has raised the meat. I don’t know that natural or organic meat necessarily offers you any assurance that the slaughterhouse is humane. I think you really have to look at smaller slaughterhouses. It does tend to be more expensive, but you get what you pay for… Another thing people who are buying hamburger can do is buy hamburger from places that are grinding it themselves. You can go to your butcher or your supermarket and ask whether they are grinding the meat or buying it ground. If you are buying hamburger from someone who is grinding it themselves, it will [probably] come from just one animal, and that will lower the risk considerably.
SEE ALSO: A call for glass walls.
Racism as pond scum reprised in the Dallas Morning News
It might settle to the bottom if left alone, but it can also be whipped up into a froth. And that’s what [Hillary Clinton’s Hispanic pollster Sergio] Bendixen was really doing.
The column, titled Race card: Play it at your peril, is in The Dallas Morning News today. So, again this Sunday, I’m back at it.
Ford says Bendixen was pond scum playing the race card when he told a reporter last month that Latino voters haven’t generally “shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.”
...by insisting that Hispanics are anti-black bigots and insinuating that black politicians won’t serve the interests of Hispanic constituents, Bendixen may well have helped inspire the racial tensions he purported to describe. African Americans have had their worst fears of anti-black racism confirmed by a supposed expert on Latino opinion; Latinos, told that their community rejects black candidates, may well assume that this must be so for a good reason—such as African American prejudice against them.
Now, I have to tell you, I have not yet read the book but I have been looking forward to it since I learned of it back in September. I appreciated Ford’s view of the Jena 6 complexities and its very provocative title, The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse, promised a fresh perspective.
Unfortunately, I’m thinking I’m seeing the same old tired argument. And Ford is the one trotting it out in this column. His example, Bendixen the player whose bluffing, made a benign statement into which Ford has definitively interpreted Bendixen’s insistence “that Hispanics are anti-black bigots”???
I guess I need to be African American to pick that up. Or have a Harvard Law degree. (Or is that just my bias talking? There is, of course, bias everywhere isn’t there?)
This is now my third try and, still, what I see is too confident a conclusion based on too little evidence boosted with plenty of journalistic qualifiers.
I will be reading the book over spring break. In the meantime, I make due with reviews. But what I’m beginning to wonder is whether I’ll agree with its thesis.
As I understand it, I like Ford’s notion of a move away from an emphasis on “diversity” and towards “integration.” Among those areas where we may differ is how to get there.
I read, for example, that he cautions against comparing gay marriage to miscegenation. But miscegenation and same sex marriage simply do share attributes. Sure, there are differences. There are also similarities.
The question, then, is which to emphasize. I find a benefit, for all of us, in empathy. In finding the shared human experience and values, the common ground and understanding, that bring us closer together.
If the goal is integration, the way there is through our common humanity, not our unique pain.