Monthly Archives: October 2009

U.S. Rep Shares Progressive Frustration

As the New York Times reports, Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer shares the same frustration many progressives do with stalled advocacy and a sense of being taken for granted.

Instead of forging ahead, Mr. Blumenauer, 61, finds himself fighting to retain one of the touchstones for liberals this year, a public insurance option in the health care overhaul, and is watching his hopes of curbing global warming grow cold in the Senate. Mr. Blumenauer, a seven-term congressman, is bracing for a tough vote on sending more troops to Afghanistan while he frets about the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay remaining open.

One caveat, though. If anyone thinks that there has been “an unexpected level of Republican opposition,” well, then they’re really unforgivably naive. Obama’s misstepped in attempting to sincerely partner with people whose self-interest lies in seeing him fail.

Matt Taibbi Blogs My Mind

Rolling Stone muckraker Matt Taibbi has been contributing some excellent, counter–conventional wisdom blog pieces at True/Slant. This excerpt from today’s post, “Good News on Wall Street Means…What Exactly?” provided that rare instance of someone else summing up exactly what I was thinking much better than I could have.

No one mentions here that this is a carrot-and-stick story — the stick being that ordinary people have been robbed of the interest they should be getting in CDs and ordinary bank savings accounts by the various bailout programs and lending guarantees, which have brought the cost of capital down to nothing for the big banks, and punished those people who have been doing the right thing all along by saving. The Fed lends its money to Goldman Sachs and BOFA for free, why does anyone have to pay Grandma a high rate for her CD or her bank savings?

His April post, “The Peasant Mentality Lives on in America,” is also beautifully blunt.

Breaking the NFL’s Racial Barrier

Sports Illustrated’s Alexander Wolff has an excellent story, “The NFL’s Jackie Robinson,” on the first African-American football players to reintegrate the NFL. It’s an informative, frustrating read, laying out the dollar signs that underlied the league’s “unofficial” bigotry as well as the unabashed racism of Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall.

(Gee, who’d have thought the owner of the Redskins would have a problem with race?)

Review: Ghost in the Shell

“Ghost in the Shell” is regarded, I believe, as a landmark work in manga, and there are some definite strengths here. Shirow creates a compelling futuristic world, peopled with androids, cyber communicators and other augmented humans.

For his story, he presents an anti-terrorism squad on a series of loosely linked jobs. The tension is real, as is the “realpolitik” of their barely sanctioned work. The art is excellent, with branching circuits and beautifully detailed cityscapes. “Ghost in the Shell” is an easy work to immerse yourself in.

At the same time, the storytelling can be disjointed and difficult to follow. While Shirow states that he doesn’t like exposition, it’s easy to become lost in the stories, losing track of identity of characters or the relationships between larger political entities.

It’s admirable that he wants to use his story to explore the ramifications of artificial intelligence. (Is a sufficiently advanced robot different from a human? He doesn’t seem to think so.) However, the last chapters stray from the strength of the shadowy world he’s created in favor of armchair metaphysics, with large sections that prove to be skippable. The story ends very far from where it began, and this transition is to the detriment of the book.