Saturday, October 3, 2009

Eight Years in the Bush Leagues: Got a long way to recover from that

The report back from the IOC (and congrats to Rio!) is that nothing Obama could have said or done would have made Chicago more attractive. Rio had a exceedingly good point about sending the Olympics to a new continent. There is more to this than Rio's merits. The great majority of IOC members travel internationally, and comments back to the US delegation confirm that travel to the US is now a "harrowing experience" at the border for many nationalities (thanks to Boing Boing for this link).

Of all the changes in travel over the past several years, and in response to 9/11, the most impractical and counterproductive for America has been the level of harassment that foreign nationals now face to enter the US. Of course, several nations have reciprocated and so US travelers have found boarder crossings equally difficult. It is not that border security is unimportant, but it should be done with a greater economy. Instead of fingerprinting millions of travelers, we should be training border agents to be more perceptive. Keep the crossing secure, but don't make every foreign traveler feel like a criminal.

The sight of a gathering of Republican activists cheering the announcement that Chicago had lost its bid for the Olympics (assuming here that they are not closet Brazil supporters) is simply sad. It shows are complete lack of class. Makes one happy that crowd is no longer in the White House.

photo credit: stuck in customs cc license

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

teabaggers: lie down with fleas, you may catch more than an itch

Watching the recent "teabagger" protests, and glancing at their organizers' blogs, it becomes obvious that these people are new at the game. They have no real center for their message, and they welcome anyone who has any sort of protest to voice. The problem with not doing some kind of in-group policing is that you end up being held hostage by the fringes of your protest. That one jackass over there wearing the KKK hood, or waving the swastika or some other blatantly offensive sign, becomes the poster child for your protest. On the left, this hijacking was often accomplished by someone with kerosine and an American flag. That one photo took all the headlines and the content of the speeches never made the front page. It didn't take long for antiwar protest organizers to learn to help their protest sympathizers stay on message. If the teabaggers don't learn the same lesson, they will find their protests to be increasingly anti-productive. And if they are really not concerned by the fellow in the KKK hood or waving a sign that threatens the life of the president, then they don't understand that free speech and hate speech are two quite different things. They also confuse these on their blogs, which gives their sympathizers license to go out and do the same in public. Here is an illustrative video from CNN.
Every administration needs a loyal opposition, so nobody wins when the opposition is hijacked by jackasses.

Photo Credit:  eikootje, used under CC license

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The President is too smart to talk to kids, oh my!

This is really what the fear is out there in GOP land. Obama, it seems, is just too smart, to convincing, too great a speaker to be allowed to talk to children. Children! Innocent and locked into their public schools where the President can talk to them without their PARENTS standing ready to clamp hands over their tender ears should the President sound too convincing. The horror of having elected someone who can speak! Why, the world has not seen anything like him since... well, since we started electing people like the last one. Clinton could talk up a storm, only he tended to like his own voice a little too much. Doesn't the GOP remember "The Great Communicator?" Reagan also gave a talk to kids in school.
Here is a clip from the cable news where a Republican strategist lays out this line of argument. Just listen to Joe Watkins and decide for yourself. If you are a Republican, can you really believe that the Nation does not deserve a President that is intelligent, passionate, and convincing? If you're from any other political side... just listen and shake your head.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Zombie Walks and Tea Parties

The same day that 2,000 tea party goers went to D.C., 5,000 people showed up in Fremont, Seattle for a record-breaking zombie walk. Fremont is, of course, as much or more of a sister city to Santa Barbara than any of its official sisters. Fremont took in a covey of Santa Barbara artists in the early '80s, and they brought with them the Solstice Celebration, which is now a major Seattle event. Of course, Seattle is a big town, with big-town ideas: like 500 naked bicyclists leading the parade (try that on State Street!).

What do tea parties and zombie walks have in common? They both celebrate something really... dead. Tea parties like to believe that the corpse of big-bank capitalism can be raised again, and the same gravy train that derailed (at which time we discovered... THAT'S NOT GRAVY! EEWW!) can be reassembled, so they can get along with their vision of prosperity.

Meanwhile the rest of the country is looking ahead at the next dream, something emergent and potentially wonderful, even though it might not lead to a billion-dollar bonus at some pirate investment bank.

Tea party zombie walkers, put some zip in your step. Carry the corpse with some elan. Why not. Everyone else is laughing. So go ahead. Step up and go for the full Thriller tango.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Green Academy ties the line at the beach

Drive along Cabrillo this week and you will see dozens of palm trees decke out with ribbons. These ribbons symbolize the scale of sea level rise in the ice on Greenland. Like the lightblueline project, the Santa Barbara High School Green Academy effort uses public art to make a scientific statement. You can visit the green academy website here: