Subject to Change, version 2.0
I'm a goddamed liberal. Deal with it.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Even Count Potemkin No Longer Pretends His Creations Are Villages.

National Review says things are not going well in Iraq. Why oh why do they hate America so much? Steven Vincent on Iraq on National Review Online: Steven Vincent: Basra, Iraq — It’s been a little over a year since I was last in Basra, and at first glance little has changed. The buildings are just as dilapidated, livestock still periodically cross the rubble-strewn streets, and the once beautiful canals remain clotted with trash.... Beneath the surface, though.... I can no longer wander the streets, take a cab, or dine in restaurants for fear of being spotted as a foreigner: Kidnapping, by criminal gangs or terrorists, remains a lucrative business. Instead, for safety’s sake, I’m tied to my hotel, dependent on expensive drivers, unable to go anywhere without Iraqi escort. “You really shouldn’t be here at all,” a British-embassy official warned me.... Gone are the glamorous posters of those Shia icons.... The reason for this apparent diminution of religious fervor is the mainstreaming of Shia political organizations. “After the elections, the Islamic parties seized control of Basra,” Layla explains. “Now they want to appear more respectable.” Indeed, all but six of the 41 seats on the province’s Governing Council are...

 [Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal]
1:17:41 PM    

Karen Finley: Not In Our Town, The Olympic Stadium

Last week, Bloomberg’s quest to build a stadium on the West Side of New York City died. Although I wasn’t for the stadium, I could imagine Bloomberg’s reasoning. Lower Manhattan’s office space is not filling up. If New York City can be a showplace in hosting the Olympics in 2012, maybe if will attract tenants to the Freedom Towers. And build a needed momentum for New York City. The cameras will not be just on ‘the tragedy’.

On the front page of the New York Times last week, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is quoted ‘Am I supposed to turn my back on Lower Manhattan as it struggles to recover? For what? A Stadium?’ Mayor Bloomberg responds with ‘Those that were on the other side will have to explain why they were against jobs, why they were against economic opportunity and growth.

Let me tell you the real reason the Olympic stadium didn’t go through. It’s pay back time. New York City is sick and tired of having the party in their house, providing the booze, food, the space and then everyone putting their cigarettes out on our rug. After last summer’s hosting of the Republican Convention, (even though 75 percent of Manhattan voted for Kerry) New Yorkers have had enough.

During the Republican Convention last year, the city turned into a military zone, with unnecessary sweeping arrests. Citizens were held in mass holdings at the pier. The military and police were lined along thoroughfares, visibly armed. Pedestrians were regularly searched, stopped. Democrats watched the Republicans USE The Red Apple, exploit Ground Zero as a backdrop to justify the occupation and war in Iraq. Then leave us being a standing duck.

Republicans came to our town for fun, then in a month felt guilt and made it all better with continuing the agenda of No Stem Research, No Gay Marriage. Everything done here, stays here. And that needs to change. Believe me the Republicans didn’t come to New York for the weather in August. They came for the clubs, the loving, the sex, the art. No one said, Oh I can’t wait to have the Republican Convention in a town that doesn’t serve liquor and you go to church when you can’t sleep.

We have had enough of our city’s Red Alert, being used as an erotic zone for conservatives to facilitate their agenda at our expense. They are pimping us. Ground Zero’s fear becomes propaganda to continue the Patriot Act. Close Quatanamo, End the War and we’ll talk.

Everyday we live and go to work with a sense of High Alert. We endure the gaze of pity, the contentment in others knowing the tragedy didn’t happen in their ‘good city’. We endure the thousands of well meaning tourists buying World Trade Center knick knacks and souvenirs. We endure the questions. Did you know someone who died? How close were you?

We don’t want Olympics 2012 to be the goal post to work towards. The Olympics in 2012, for those who live and work here, will be a combination plate of Beach Blanket Babylon, Robo Cop and a S and M session if everything goes right. Is this someone’s idea of a good time on our dime?

The Olympics? Really, let’s give out the medals now.
We have our Olympic Gold Medallists. We have our fire fighters, our police, our EMT. We have our Olympic teachers and we have our Olympic artists, actors, musicians, writers. We have our record breaking subways, buses and taxis. We have our Gold Medal pizza, our neurosis, our 24/7, our drive, our ambition, our loudness, directness, all wearing black, we live in small cramped quarters, we don’t invite you up. We are a city of heroes, who stay here to build, create for our future. We have a magnificent city that we enjoy sharing with the world and we want to continue doing so. We don’t want to destroy our city in hosting the Olympics.

Perhaps Bloomberg should consider hosting a Cultural Olympics. There would be no buildings to be built. We could use the East Side Park, Battery Park and have public art, theater, music. And yes some of it would be controversial. Instead of funding sports we’d be funding art. Isn’t that an original idea?

- Karen Finley

[The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
8:45:31 AM    

Brain cells are matured in lab.

Scientists say they have duplicated the process of generating new adult brain cells in a controlled way in the lab.

[BBC News | News Front Page | UK Edition]
7:45:30 AM    

Jesse Kornbluth: If the Real Estate Bubble bursts, is the God Bubble Next?

What no one says about zooming housing prices and highly leveraged real estate financing schemes is almost too obvious to mention: a sudden end to this boom will almost surely have a ripple effect that will hurt not just those unlucky homeowners who bought at the top, but all the people riding the coattails of those rising expectations.

That includes hardcore members of the Christian Right, They may be the elect, but in a real estate crash, they will discover they're not the elite -- if the economy hits the wall, they're going to get as badly battered as the rest of us. And maybe worse.

The critical difference: The rest of us will lose money, jobs, opportunity. These folks could lose their faith.

It's my view that we're experiencing not one, but two bubbles: Real Estate and God. Like the Real Estate Bubble, the God Bubble has been getting so much attention that we've been encouraged to think it's real and growing: a bedrock change in American culture. And no doubt there are many who do place their faith above all else and are delighted that their religion is -- at last -- big news. But as in any movement, there are people who join a cause just because it looks like a winner.

If I were a betting man, I'd wager that a lot of people have jumped onto God's crusade to purify America as a kind of career move. Some guys make deals on the golf courses of exclusive clubs, others over Krispy Kremes at the mega-church's coffee hour. You use what you've got to get where you want to go.

For all the preaching about forsaking pleasure on earth for good in heaven, I'd also wager that people of faith live like so many of us --above their means, skating from paycheck to paycheck, credit cards maxed out. But there's a difference between these Christians and those of us who don't believe in a God who shines His light only on the faithful. We feel we're on our own if bad times hit -- and the deeply devout, always eager to see God's hand in their lives, regard an economic downturn as a test they can pass with God's active help.

And if God doesn't? That would be the first reality-based test of the faith-based community. Just imagine the mad scramble for scapegoats if the Godly must, with the rest of us, come face to face with brutal economic reality -- and neither God nor God's Right Hand (their ministers and Congressmen) intercedes on their behalf. Who can they blame? The Right Wing God Squad was, after all, cheek-to-jowl with the Republican leadership in slamming the door closed on personal bankruptcies. And those "Christian" banks that have sprouted up -- they have no one to point a finger at if they don't extend longer lines of credit to the least of their brethren.

Let me be clear: I'm not on my knees each night praying for the housing bubble to burst or Christian homeowners to be ruined -- I'd like everyone to prosper. I'm just looking around the corner and speculating what might happen if real estate-derived prosperity ended before another boom could begin: a lot of real estate developments suddenly turned into ghost towns, a lot of churches looking barren on Sundays. And a lot of people hearing an unexpected echo of Edward G. Robinson's snarl to Charlton Heston in "The Ten Commandments" --"Where's your God now, Dr. Frist?"

For the full-length rant:

- Jesse Kornbluth (

[The Huffington Post | Full Blog Feed]
7:44:07 AM    

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