January 22, 2011

A Greeting Card To Rush Limbaugh

YouTube video titled Racism on Air 
posted by politicalarticles

On the occasion of a four-day state visit to the United States by President Hu Jintao of China this week, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves and mocked the Chinese language and effectively Chinese people the world over.   

It was an ugly display of American "playground bully" antics and those on the right immediately defended Limbaugh by invoking the Rosie O'Donnell incident from 2006, when the liberal O'Donnell did her own crude imitation of a Chinese newscaster for "laughs".

I wasn't aware of the O'Donnell clip until now, but these two are truly a bookend of babbling idiots who deserve a tasteless greeting from us all.

"Don't Walk" sign seen on 
Avenue C in New York City

A second "Don't Walk" sign seen 
on Avenue C in New York City

YouTube video posted by LilliputSight

January 8, 2011

To Be Great Is Not Great Enough, When You Dream Of Being Good.

Artwork showing the origin of Spider-Man 
from Amazing Fantasy #15, published 
August 1962 by Marvel Comics

Earlier this week, the Republican Party (GOP) took power as the majority in the United States House of Representatives.

. . . . . . . .

As Bob Herbert wrote in his Op-Ed piece for the January 3, 2011 edition of The New York Times titled Get Ready for a G.O.P. Rerun:

"You just can't close the door on this crowd. The party that brought us the worst economy since the Great Depression, that led us into Iraq and the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, that would like to take a hammer to Social Security and a chisel to Medicare, is back in control of the House of Representative with the expressed mission of undermining all things Obama."

Mr. Herbert continues:

"It was ever thus. The fundamental mission of the G.O.P. is to shovel ever more money to those who are already rich. That's why you got all that disgracefully phony rhetoric from Republicans about attacking budget deficits and embracing austerity while at the same time they are fighting like mad people to pile up the better part of a trillion dollars in new debt by extending the Bush tax cuts.

This is a party that has mastered the art of taking from the poor and the middle class and giving to the rich. We should at least be clear about this and stop being repeatedly hoodwinked - like Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy's football - by G.O.P. claims of fiscal responsibility."

. . . . . . . .

Well my friends, here we go again. Ordinary Americans (many duped into fanatically believing they're wealthier and more privileged than they actually are) have indeed been hoodwinked into thinking we live in an Us versus Them society when in truth our nation can best be defined as having an Us versus Us mentality.

Following are some hard facts.  

As detailed by Professor G. William Domhoff of the Universty of California at Santa Cruz:

"In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%."

As Timothy Noah wrote in his article Introducing the Great Divergence for Slate's series titled The United States of Inequality:

"All my life I've heard Latin America described as a failed society (or collection of failed societies) because of its grotesque maldistribution of wealth. Peasants in rags beg for food outside the high walls of opulent villas, and so on. But according to the Central Intelligence Agency (whose patriotism I hesitate to question), income distribution in the United States is more unequal than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador. Income inequality is actually declining in Latin America even as it continues to increase in the United States. Economically speaking, the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic."

BE SURE to follow the link to Timothy Noah's article for Slate and look for the survey box titled Where do I stand? to see how your actual income compares to the median income in your zip code, state, and the country. The truth shall finally set you free.

. . . . . . . .

The illustration above shows the important moment in comic book history when Peter Parker (as Spider-Man) realizes that "with great power there must also come - - great responsibility". I've always found it a fascinating connection that when chairman and co-founder Bill Gates announced his transitioning out of a day-to-day role at Microsoft, he said the following:

"I believe with great wealth comes great responsibility - the responsibility to give back to society and make sure those resources are given back in the best possible way, to those in need."

The hands-on philanthropist has indeed put his money where his mouth is through the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and (as reported by Michael J. De La Merced of the NY Times) "the Giving Pledge, a campaign by Bill Gates and Warren E. Buffett to commit wealthy individuals to giving away at least half of their holdings during their lifetimes or after their deaths".

. . . . . . . . 

Which brings us full circle back to the United States House of Representatives and what new speaker of the House, Representative John A. Boehner (Ohio) told Brian Williams of NBC News this week:

"...I take what I do very seriously. And when it comes to kids. When it comes to my own family. Soldiers. You know, I get, I feel very strongly that I want America to be the country that I grew up in."

To those who wish to live, think and breathe in a time warp, I kindly ask what's it going to be? Is the United States going to become a great nation of progress again in the 21st century, or are we going to fall back on essentially selfish ideas of zero merit including discrimination, injustice, and inequality?

. . . . . . . .

"In addition to unequal wealth distribution, it is also difficult for individuals in the lower income distributions to gain economic mobility which inhibits their ability to accumulate wealth. In 2006, children in the lowest 20% of the income distribution only had a 17% chance of making it to the upper 40% of the income distribution. In 2004, children in the lowest 20% of the wealth distribution had only a 7% chance to make it to the top wealth distribution.

In other words, wealthy parents tend to produce wealthy children, and poor parents tend to produce poor children."

. . . . . . . .     

The challenge then to the nation's wealthiest is that until the country's unfair policies finally force the people to the streets ... the ball is in your court ... you hold all the cards. What's it going to be? We've all heard of the phrase "To be good is not good enough, when you dream of being great." I prefer to think instead that "To be great is not great enough, when you dream of being good."

We the People of the United States ... have much work to do.

January 1, 2011

Choose joy.

"Have a nice day." - Artistry with cholesterol as 
seen through the window of Papaya Dog on 
14th Street and 1st Avenue in NYC.

Happy New Year everyone! From the January 2011 issue of Vanity Fair, chef and businessman Mario Batali's responses to the following questions (among others) in the magazine's Proust Questionnaire:

What is your most marked characteristic?

What is the quality you most like in a man?

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

What do you most value in your friends?

What is it that you most dislike?
Lazy execution.

How would you like to die?
Instantly in my sleep at the age of 145.

What is your motto?
"Choose joy."