Lorenda Starfelt passed away last Tuesday. She was 56. Her death was announced by her husband Brad Mays yesterday on Correntewire where Lori posted under the name Basement Angel. Long time readers of this blog will remember Brad and Lori as the filmmakers who documented the dispossessed of the 2008 primary elections. I met them on several occasions. Brad was a loose cannon and Lori was his voice of moderation. She was beautiful with a dazzling smile and captivating eyes. Brad says she died of uterine cancer that had spread to her liver. I never knew she was sick. I am very sorry to hear that she has died. Her voice will be missed.
Lori intuitively understood the people who defected the Democratic party for the Tea Party. She knew that racism had very little to do with it. She knew that the Tea Party is rallying its supporters with false messages but at least it gives them answers. The Democrats have abandoned its base, liberals and working class and the well educated unemployed. We shouldn’t be surprised that the movement conservatives behind the Tea Party are picking some of them up. In one of her last posts at Corrente, she posted this clip from an interview that the Commonwealth Club did with Noam Chomsky:
I have mixed feelings about Noam. I can’t argue with the points he made in this segment. He understands the way the powerful elite has used language to pit the working people of the world against each other while they make off with the loot. And he’s right to criticize those of us on the left for failing to get our act together to deliver a different message. But in an ironic way, he’s part of the problem. For all of his justifiable criticism of the failures of the Obama administration, which he must known were coming if he was paying attention to the language of Obama’s 2008 campaign, he was willfully blinded to considering any of the other Democratic candidates as better options. He didn’t like any of them, he says. Noam reminds me of the people back in 2000 who thought there was no difference between Republicans and Democrats. Well, there isn’t much difference now but back then there was. Maybe Bill Clinton didn’t turn out to be the uber liberal that Chomsky and others like him were hoping for but there was a world of difference between him and the Republicans. In the same manner, there was a world of difference between the top two Democrats who ran. One lead from deeply held left of center principles; the other was just a brand who walked and talked like the finance industry that footed the bill for his campaign. The difference between them had everything to do with who was backing them. (Next time, pay attention.)
Noam’s weakness seems to be that he’s stuck in the 60’s, reliving the civil rights movement, Cold War and Vietnam. Sometimes, I just want to smack him. No one likes war and no one on welfare would prefer it to a well paying job. The last thing we should do to help people on welfare is make it necessary for them to receive it. Has he forgotten that poor people on welfare tend to live in the low rent parts of town, because that’s all they can afford? That concentrations of poor people tend to perpetuate generational poverty, substandard educations and hopelessness? No, Noam, we don’t want that. We want government to help poor people by helping them get jobs. There is a role for government but welfare isn’t a goal. It’s a stop gap on the way to something better.
What would Noam think of the air strikes on Libya? For the most part, he’s right about the unnecessary wars we’ve been saddled with. Iraq was a sham that many Americans were tricked into pursuing. But the war in Afghanistan? I’m sorry, we needed to go into Afghanistan after 9/11. The fact that the Bush administration screwed up the country after the invasion does not alter the necessity of going there. A country can’t allow a ragtag group of terrorists to attack it and then turn the other cheek. It sends a bad signal to the rest of the world, which despite our civilizing evolution of the past century is still barely holding itself in check from ripping itself to pieces for power and natural resources.
This morning, we joined the French and other countries in attacking Libya as an impressive cultural shift continues to ripple across north Africa and the middle east. Radio Free Europe sums it up:
The British and U.S. strikes came after French warplanes fired the first shots on March 19, destroying government tanks and armored vehicles in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
The campaign, called “Odyssey Dawn,” currently involves forces and equipment from the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Italy, and Denmark. It is the biggest Western military intervention in the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
It followed a decision on March 19 in Paris by Western and Arab leaders to enforce a UN no-fly zone over Libya in order to prevent Gaddafi from carrying out attacks on civilians and opposition forces.
In an audio message broadcast on state TV, the 68-year-old Qaddafi remained defiant, saying he was prepared to defeat the Western forces in what he said would be a “long, glorious war.”
“You are unjust, you are the aggressors, you are beasts, you are criminals. Your countries are against you. There are protests everywhere in Europe, in America against the steps you’re taking against the innocent Libyan people,” Qaddafi said. “The people are with us, even your people are with us. All the people on Earth are against you. You will fail like how Hitler failed, Napoleon failed, Mussolini failed. All tyrants fall under the feet of the people. This is the era of the people and the great [Qaddafi] revolution.”
Uh-huh. Maybe Qaddafi should cut back on the hot sweet tea.
If you are a person of principle, ideally, you want to allow the peoples of these countries to determine for themselves what their government should be and encourage them from the sidelines. But the possibility that civil unrest threatens to destabilize the world’s economies might also make you want to act when a divided country starts to spiral out of control towards years of violence. Better to pick a side, preferably the anti-dictatorship one, and aid it. In this case, timing is everything. Be swift and thorough.
I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide which American politician has been the driving force behind arguing for and assembling the allies for an air strike. Hint: Ditherers don’t do it. Unfortunately, unbiased reporting on foreign policy at the NYTimes is spotty, which brings me to the paywall issue announced last week.
While I admit to being a regular NYTimes reader, lately, I have been disappointed and a little shocked by what I read there. Last week’s coverage of Japan’s struggle with their nuclear reactors was breathless and hyperbolic while reports of the dead, missing and displaced was muted. For the “paper of record”, it was disgraceful. Meanwhile, anti-government bias there is becoming obvious. Maybe the editors aren’t aware of the degree to which they have conformed to the anti-government point of view. But today, their blurb on the frontpage to their editorial on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget parrots the movement conservative line that “Governor Cuomo is right to argue for spending cuts” even while it laments that the wealthy in the state are not going to be compelled to cough up more in taxes. Who decided that the spending cuts are the right thing to argue? Did we poll the residents of New York, consult with leading economists, call up some historians? And this article on the sea walls of Japan that didn’t hold back the tsunamis is just downright bizarre. Not only is the “government programs are wasteful; private industry initiatives are dazzlingly perfect!” messaging obvious, it’s worked into the piece in particularly awkward ways. It’s almost like the editors took the original writing from the bureau in Japan and made it work for the Goldman Sachs readers. Sometimes, I read an article and think *I* could have written it. Recent writing in the NYTimes doesn’t have the same quality as it did even a couple of years ago. The prose seems clumsy and amateur, even a little bit dumbed down.
So, while I love Paul Krugman and will find a way to get my fix, I’m not inclined to pony up more money for a paper that seems to be evolving towards the clueless “creative class” readers and Wall Street crowd. For one thing, soon I won’t be getting a steady paycheck so wasteful government spending in my house is strictly forbidden by real budgetary constraints. Besides, it’s not like the NYTimes has gone out of its way to cover those of us educated unemployed or working class stiffs. The union busting moves in Wisconsin were definitely downplayed and even Krugman is puzzled over the way we, the degreed unemployed, are being ignored and forgotten.
The NYTimes is marginalizing itself. It’s becoming a paper for Mike Bloomberg types and their minions. The little people who still get the “dead tree” version will have access at no additional charge but if you have internet access, why the heck would you get a hard copy? It just piles up in the recycling bin. And if you’re not printing on as much paper, why charge $15.95/month for the electronic version? Presumably, with the exception of the bandwidth, the costs of printing the paper have gone down. Is the NYTimes just following the herd of other corporations that have given in to MBAs and consultants who don’t know the business they are asked to manage? Cater to the money and tell them what they want to hear. Screw the news, even if it is your core business. By the time journalism is just a fleeting memory at the NYTimes, the business guys will have taken the money and run.
The NYTimes lost my subscription with the Judy Miller incident. They’re not getting it back simply because they have international news bureaus, especially if those news bureaus can’t write what’s going on without passing through a political filter. I’ll have to get my news from more international sources from now on.
Thank goodness Brooke is a budding polyglot.