Archive for April, 2009

  • Rob Spectre
  • 30
  • Apr
  • 09

In a week packed with apocalyptic headlines, none held the Geiger-counter-crazy-nuclear-mushroom-cloud kick  of Tuesday’s party affiliation switch by the senior senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter.  Pushed to the left by philosophical differences and a curiously well-funded primary challenge, Specter keeps not only his seat, but the dealmaker clout he snagged during the stimulus bill.  Further, he flies a solid prime-time middle finger to the party that planned on lynching him for going off the reservation so early in the Congressional session.

Though the balance in the Senate tips closer to the magic filibuster proof sixty seats, the switch is not an unqualified victory for the Democrats.  In his very first day as a Dem, Specter voted against the President’s budget, signaling his intention to remain an independent – dare I say, maverick – mind in this Congress.

While Arlen Specter switching parties may not be a magic wand for the Blue, it is nothing but fail for the Red who in one news cycle saw an already upset apple cart get shit on by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  For both sides of the aisle, Arlen Specter wiped all the bets at the bookies and blanked every Washington forecast.  Here’s the five big ways the Pennsylvanian senator changed the game for Obama’s first term.

Photo: U.S. Senate

Photo: U.S. Senate

1) Michael Steele Gets Neutered

The already embattled RNC chair is out of the driver seat for this election cycle.  It was primarily his buddies in the Club for Growth which funded Pat Toomey’s primary challenge to Specter’s incumbency and it was the leaks from his office that suggested the push was coming from a GOP establishment upset over the deals Specter was making with the White House.

The problem now is what to do with him.  Keeping him would admit impotence and ousting him would invite savage infighting.  The national GOP is going to be marginalized until after the next election.

2) 2010 Is The Democrats’ To Lose

With a compromised national office and a publicly undermined fundraising network, the Republicans are looking at a Sisyphean climb next fall.  Specter’s switch is a loud no-confidence vote by the GOP’s moderate majority in its neo-con leaders.  Without their money and full throated support, the best Republicans can hope for is a non-fatal loss.

Democrats, on the other hand, need to deliver some economic win.  Change needs to be real by the summer of 2010 or Republicans will have something to run on besides teabags.

3) Ideology Takes A Back Seat To Pragmatism

The biggest win for the country is that Specter’s switch makes political moderates the most precious commodity in this government.  The more Specters and Snowes and Landrieus and Pryors that get pampered in policy meetings, the closer we are to real solutions.  Toomey’s campaign said to elected Republicans that they must stay true to the talking points or expire.

Specter’s switch gave the keys back to the moderates.on both sides of the aisle.  Nays on principle aren’t going to be enough to get elected in this next decade.  Results are back in style.

4) Do or Die for Neo-Conservatism

Arlen Specter leaving the Republican Party is not a sign of its death, though it may be a sign of the death of its neo-conservative element.  Less a wakeup call for the party as a whole as the fanatics that drove it into the dumpster, Neo-Cons are on the cliff.  Specter sent a real message that as long as the Rush Limbaugh crowd is setting the agenda, the party as a whole is going to suffer.

Republicans will survive, but the teabaggers got to go.

5) Health Care Happens This Year

Whether or not it is the sweeping reform Obama promised remains to be seen, but the Democrats didn’t let Specter keep his job for free.  He may not vote for the bill, but he will vote for cloture and finally bring healthcare reform to the floor for an up-or-down vote.

And if healthcare and the economy shows dramatic improvement by 2011, Specter will have assured a second Obama term and, perhaps, a better nation.

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  • Rob Spectre
  • 28
  • Apr
  • 09

Some bonus content for your Tuesday inspired by Jillian C. York:

swine flu reaction

favors us to distinguish

who’s sick and who’s pig

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  • Rob Spectre
  • 28
  • Apr
  • 09

How easy it would be to become desensitized.  Few days have passed over the last eight years where the date wasn’t referenced by one talking head or another.  It was the universal justifier by a shit-scared government in the kneejerk reactions that followed, underscoring our vulnerable humanity.  It’s why we show up at the airport two hours early.  It’s why we have chips in our passports and cameras over our heads.  It’s why we’re in two wars.  It’s why every one in this world is a little less free.

Living nearly a decade at Threat Level Orange might have made us numb, but for the city that served as Ground Zero for the violent beginning of man’s next millennium the root is still exposed and raw.  All it took was one plane flying low over the hole in their skyline to make 11 September 2001 feel like yesterday in New York.

Linda Garcia-Rose works in an office three blocks from where the World Trade Center towers once stood.  Her description echoed much of the Big Apple:

“There was no warning. It looked like the plane was about to come into us,” she said. “I’m a therapist, and I actually had a panic attack.”

For a few minutes yesterday morning, Manhattan relived the modern American nightmare.  They fled their buildings in panic.  They seized their cell phones and screamed at their loved ones.  They looked into the sky with the unique horror of reliving the worst thing any of them had ever seen.

Their chorus of fright and the refrain of outrage that followed highlights the reverence of that day made cliche.  For much of America, the terrorist attack’s gratuitous misappropriation has made 9/11 an everyday thing, something that’s become routine.  But from Uptown to the Jersey Shore yesterday, a reminder in an impolite New Yorker accent was delivered that this is not a fucking joke.

So when people like Glenn Beck  say that the day after 9/11 is the moment we need to recapture as a nation, I wonder from what inexhaustible pit of egomania he can derive the gall.  Whether his intent is to pervert that vulnerability for political gain or merely to leverage that hallowed occasion for marketing, he and Fox News got to hear from the people who saw it first hand yesterday.

Even after eight years of American sensationalism, New York is still living in the day after 9/11.  And I think if you were to ask them, it’s a day they’d all prefer to leave behind.

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  • Rob Spectre
  • 27
  • Apr
  • 09

This lie gets repeated everywhere I go.  Busted investment bankers complain about it on the train while exchanging horror stories over their last financial advisor interview.  Lawyers uncomfortable with anything not at arms length complain about collection agency fees over $5 lattes.  Talking heads in ill-fitting studio wardrobe toss up their hands as they did during the tsunami and Katrina and 9/11.  To hear them call it, Depression 2.0 had no father.  “No one saw this coming,” they say, with all the believability of the teenager bringing home a report card full of fail.

Photo: mar is sea Y

Photo: mar is sea Y

At first, it was something I think we could concede.  The suggestion that no one in this complex economy of unprecedented size did, at first, seem credible.  But half a year after we learned first hand that the houses were made of cards and the castles were built on sand, the story is still the same.  While they simultaneously jack up our credit card rates, decline our car loans and hold out their hands for their balloon payments, they repeat the tired cliché.  “No one saw this coming,” they say.  Apparently, the fairy fucking godmother did it.

This is the greatest outrage of this economic bed-shitting.  Of course, we’re upset that it happened.  But worse still, we are six months into this motherfucker and those in charge of figuring this crap out are still acting like Goldilocks caught in the bear’s bed.  When the American magistrates and noblemen say “No one saw this coming,” it looks like the sheepish shrug of the wolf in the hen house will a belly full of chicken.  They sound like a hooker in the brothel claiming she has no idea how all those dicks got in her mouth.

Economics is mechanics, not magic.  Men built it, men understand it and should be expected to report the failings when it breaks down.  Aviation is spectacularly complex, and yet we demand to know what happened when a plane crashes.  Rocket science is the colloquial height of applied engineering, and yet we expect to know what went wrong when a shuttle burns up in our atmosphere.  Even the ultimate mystery – the human mind – is expected to produce some answers when it breaks and does something unthinkable.

Every time we’ve cloned a sheep or landed on another planet or split an atom or done any of the thousands of brilliant things that make humans so singular on this planet, we have royally fucked up and been expected to explain why.  Are those few in control of the cogs of our economy suggesting their trade is more complex than genetics or interplanetary travel or nuclear physics?  Are they saying that who spent what money when is the most complicated endeavor humanity has yet engaged?

A reasonable period for investigation has passed.  Someone saw this coming , someone knows what happened.  Some group of people is responsible and should be held accountable.  That is not to say that what they did was criminal, though the argument could be certainly made that it was.  But we didn’t jail the manufacturer of the foam that failed on Columbia nor did we imprison the operators of Three Mile Island.  Obviously, their negligence was horrific and reprehensible, though ultimately could be forgiven as the inescapable combination of human fallibility and the application of his ever more complicated instruments.

What is criminal is that we still don’t know why our economy is in shambles.  And this is no accident.

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  • Daniel Austin
  • 26
  • Apr
  • 09
This entry is part 6 of 40 in the series The (d)SP0T

This week we are deviating from plan with the (d)SPOT, taking photos not from the last week but from the archives. I’m in the process of gearing up for some exciting changes in subject matter for (d)NOT, and haven’t had time to focus on photography as much as I’d like. Never fear though, current works of art will continue to flow into the sidebar as they are created. We’re heading into some damn creative times in regards to the (d)SPOT.

This week I took some architectural subcontexts with an artistic flare from the archives in my Flickr gallery.

the-sky-between

in-a-high-building-there-is-so-much-to-do

walking-alone

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