Seventy five thousand people showed up to see Obama's biggest yet speech in Portland, Oregon yesterday. Firstly, that represents something like one-seventh the entire population of Portland and undoubtedly the biggest-ever congregation of fixed-gear bicycles. In fact, the crowd was bigger than pretty much any outdoor rock concert including Burning Man (though not including the Stones at Altamont Speedway) and it was in a city, a city we can only imagine smells kind of awful right now, if only because the coffee in Portland lends itself to really foul shits. Anyway, a friend of mine used to call Portland "White People Gone Wild." It is not such a terrible shock this crowd digs Obama. So as this woeful chapter in our nation's history concludes I can only hope the WPGW contingent will stop saying ludicrous things like the election of John McCain would be "eight more years" of Bush. To say such a thing cheapens the trauma of the World's Worst Presidency and further tries our almost thoroughly bankrupt national capacity for nuance, a capacity Obama is trying to restore. That and lots more with Megan and I, after the jump.
cMOE: Dude I don't want to forget this so I'm just showing you now. From Dick Morris's column on how McCain can beat Obama:
If the GOP nominee were Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee, independents and Democrats might not vote Republican even if they became convinced that Obama is some kind of sleeper agent sent to charm and conquer our democracy.
MEGAN: A sleeper agent? A sleeper agent? How the fuck did the WaPo let him publish that shit?
MOE: um no kidding!
MEGAN: Why doesn't Dick Morris go back to sucking prostitutes' toes and leave the rest of us alone. Have you seen his teeth? He ain't stopped sucking stanky feet yet.
MOE: So there is too much to write about today but anyway Iran is still building a nuclear program, treaties be damned and we can't do anything about it, Burma is still letting its people die and Asian governments won't do anything about it, Hugo Chavez is supporting FARC and by any standard probably now qualifies for our state sponsors of terror list but we probably shouldn't give him the satisfaction, and now they're saying it's the end of American Superpower. For realz?!
MEGAN: Wait, wait! The NY Times is reporting this morning that Myanmar/Burma is going to let ASEAN help. I'm skeptical but maybe they actually will?
MOE: Ah, so their "soft approach" did work!
In a clear departure from the usually secretive style of the military junta, state television in Myanmar on Sunday showed video of the leader, Senior General Than Shwe, touring a refugee camp, checking supplies, patting the heads of babies and shaking hands with survivors. Some of the cyclone victims, surrounded by neat rows of blue tents, clasped their hands and bowed as the general and other senior military officials walked by.
Which of course on a very limited level echoes the Chinese media's refusal to obey to the propaganda ministry's directive not to cover the earthquake.
"Are we going to continue to cover the earthquake?" the Guangzhou-based reporter asked in an instant message to his editor, a day after China's deadliest earthquake in three decades struck Sichuan province."Of course," replied the editor, surnamed Yang. "Why not?"
Then, the reporter said, he forwarded to his boss the text of the latest edict from the propaganda department of the Communist Party Central Committee, ordering domestic news media not to send any more journalists to Sichuan.
Yang wrote back, "If everyone pays no attention to this, then it won't really be a ban."
MEGAN: Oh, look, so they did get some tents to survivors finally. Anyone know what the word for "Potemkin village" is in their language?
MOE: Yeah they only have about 1.6 to 2.6 million people to go right? Question: where is Aung San Syu Kyi?
MEGAN: Also, go Chinese reporters in Sichuan! It's so beautifully optimistic that you believe the Party can't kill or imprison all of you, so I guess maybe it's not that you just don't report on your government's human rights record and atrocities, it's that you really don't know?
MEGAN: Oh, she's probably still under house arrest. Like the regime wants to allow her ot be showed doing good work?
MOE: 40 years of mind control, propaganda, a string of incomprehensible, and incomprehensibly destructive political campaigns combined with severe rationing and poverty followed by 15 years of steady marginal increases in living standards and the appearance of openness will...do that to a citizenry!
MOE: I guess we should talk about how the crowd that showed up for Obama was like 1/8 the population of Portland? And maybe we should talk about how tiny his advance for Dreams From My Father was?
MOE: Oh and how a place as shit poor as Yemen manages to hide a guy with a $5 million price on his head. And also we should talk about oil prices. And McCain's continued purge of his aides who love lobbyists, which is getting like New York politicos with whores. And Anthony Shahid's fucking depressing story on Lebanon.
MEGAN: Ok, well, I can speak to the continued purge of lobbyists. Because there's one guy who isn't getting out. He's McCain's Mark Penn only potentially slightly less stupid. He's practically consolidating power in the campaign by getting rid of the other guys with lobbying ties, so that in November-January when clients are looking for someone with a good relationship to McCain that hasn't been accused of fucking him, he's the only one left. It's all very wonderfully Machiavellian.
MEGAN: Also, I think it's fair to say that Republican lobbyists understand the least about why people think they're shills out to destroy America and don't love McCain that much anyway, so it probably never occurred to anyone that it might be a teeny tiny problem to the electorate that the guy writing McCain's energy policy was an active lobbyist for energy companies. Because, hey, that's how this Administration has run things for 8 years anyway.
MEGAN: As for the Yemen thing, it's actually a little funny because here, more and more people are tipping off their neighbors to pay their electric bills and shit and the economy goes into the toilet. So either the Yemenis are more loyal, or we're just that more desperate? Either way, my position has always been that I would totally turn in criminals for money, which is probably why my friends are all nerdy-upstanding types. One year at college there was a $1200 reward for a serial fire alarm puller and I was dying to know who it was because that was like, half of the money I'd make all semester otherwise.
MOE: Which reminds me of a point that I hope that Obama can make fairly. Re the "eight more years" thing. I think anyone who goes out of his way to say that a McCain administration would be "another eight years of the same" is doing a disservice to history. I think it's safe to say it would be historically impossible for another Administration to match this administration's singleminded dedication to the pursuit the interests of such a tiny group of corrupt people in all blatant disregard of democracy. I think we would be ill-advised to cheapen George W. Bush's "Worst President Ever" stain that way. No matter what happens in the general election January 20 will be a relatively good day for this country.
MOE: And regarding Yemen, I think it's safe to say we are less desperate.
MOE: And don't let me forget to bring up this fucking depressing story on the end of the era of cooperation between First and Third World countries that SOMEHOW begat the Green Revolution on the basis of a basic shared interest in the end of human suffering and not ADM profit margins.
MEGAN: Um, I don't thing McCain will be bad in the same way, but I think he's spent the last 8 years selling his soul to the Rovian devils in order to secure the nomination, and that doesn't make me particularly happy. There won't be a ton of turnover in terms of the kinds of people in middle management and shit because they're all working on his campaign and will be "owed"
MOE: This is pretty stark.
Adjusted for inflation, the World Bank cut its agricultural lending to $2 billion in 2004 from $7.7 billion in 1980.
MOE: Well, but what does McCain need with the Rovian devils now? Karl Rove is dispensing him free advice via his various punditry positions now.
MOE: There is just something that chills me about the "eight more years" refrain.
MEGAN: Well, and let's not forget that part of the problem with the IRRI's budget and people not working there is the fact that they were a proponent of biotechnology to get certain properties out of rice (salinity resistance, vitamins) that simply could not be bred in by convention means, and they were shit on by the world and the environmental movement, targeted for eco-terrorism and a lot of their developed-world money dried up over it, even though the Gold Rice project could've had serious benefits for the malnourished people of the world. I kept waiting for the article to mention that and it didn't.
MOE: Fuckin ecoterrorists. Anyway here we see shades of the pharmaceutical industry.
The insect is not a new problem. In the 1960s, the rice institute, nestled between jungle and the bustling town of Los Ba os, pioneered ways to help farmers grow two and even three crops a season, instead of one.
Which reminds me
MOE: Scientists are not driven by financial greed.
MOE: Across the board this is true.
MEGAN: Well, some of them are. Most of them aren't.
MOE: You talk to guys who develop drugs at pharmaceutical companies and they think it's absolutely shameful that if they want a drug to come to market these days they have to go to work on the next generation of lipitor or abilify or the drug that finally cures metabolic syndrome when there are still so many infectious diseases to be cured. At one point there was a Nature article suggesting the industry establish a non-profit pharmaceutical company to address diseases whose cures would not be money makers. The same should go for agriculture, you'd think. I don't really understand why all the philanthropy targeted at making life-improving technology more available to the third world seems to focus on hand-cranked laptops and stuff like that.
MEGAN: I think it's because a lot of philanthropy is corporate, it's designed to make companies look good to their consumers and stock holders, but those decisions are made by people within the company. So, of course that's the kind of corporate philanthropy they would engage in. And the pharmaceutical companies will pay tons of money to run those Prescription Partnership for America commercials and send out the buses and take a hit on giving medicines to a small subset of people who can't afford it rather than risk price controls, and they'll give away some AIDS medications in developing countries to keep patent rights.
MEGAN: And Monsanto will spend millions of dollars spraying RoundUp on farmers fields to see if they're cheating on licensing rather than donating to the IRRI or developing drought-resistant wheat or something.
MEGAN: And everyone will give Bill Gates $1 million to research a cure for malaria or AIDS or whatever and claim that they're doing great shit and then go back to making money.
MEGAN: Anyway, if we're going to take today to be depressed about injustice, how about if you're taking medical marijuana while waiting for a transplant, you're pretty much not eligible for the transplant anymore?
MOE: Well I actually have a better answer to my own question that is not QUITE as cynical. The culture of Silicon Valley and the rapidness of the wealth creation that's happened there, the "open source-ness" of ideals, the existence of Microsoft monopolistic practices as a sort of anti-standard...the newness...the fact that the scientists in the case of the technology industry WERE the business founders and ARE the wealth holders...this swirl of factors makes electrical engineers and software engineers more idealistic and philanthropic I think. Whereas in pharmaceuticals and agriculture a lot of the scientific talent is still being managed by corporate shareholder-driven assholes because the barriers to entry are so much higher.
MEGAN: So, geeks think computers really can save the world, and everyone else is just faking it like I said? I'd buy that in moderation.
MOE: The thing is that: there are certain classes of people you might to run their businesses more ethically, less greedily...more thoughtfully...Hasidic-founded Kosher agriprocessing plants are no longer among them. (Did you read this story?) (Holy shit.)
MEGAN: I would be more surprised and outraged that this Administration is targeting illegal immigrants for arrest and deportation and doing virtually nothing to the management that hires them if I hadn't been living in this country for 30 years, probably.
MEGAN: And/or hadn't read that series in the WaPo last week about how unethically and illegally we treat supposedly-illegal immigrants while in custody.
MOE: And on that note I'll leave you with this from George Packer's New Yorker piece on conservatism:
Nixon was coldly mixing and pouring volatile passions. Although he was careful to renounce the extreme fringe of Birchites and racists, his means to power eventually became the end. Buchanan gave me a copy of a seven-page confidential memorandum—"A little raw for today," he warned—that he had written for Nixon in 1971, under the heading "Dividing the Democrats." Drawn up with an acute understanding of the fragilities and fault lines in "the Old Roosevelt Coalition," it recommended that the White House "exacerbate the ideological division" between the Old and New Left by praising Democrats who supported any of Nixon's policies; highlight "the elitism and quasi-anti-Americanism of the National Democratic Party"; nominate for the Supreme Court a Southern strict constructionist who would divide Democrats regionally; use abortion and parochial-school aid to deepen the split between Catholics and social liberals; elicit white working-class support with tax relief and denunciations of welfare.
Finally, the memo recommended exploiting racial tensions among Democrats. "Bumper stickers calling for black Presidential and especially Vice-Presidential candidates should be spread out in the ghettoes of the country," Buchanan wrote. "We should do what is within our power to have a black nominated for Number Two, at least at the Democratic National Convention." Such gambits, he added, could "cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half."
MEGAN: Wow, Pat Buchanan is smarter that I would normally give him credit for. Evil, racist, sicker and a worse human being than I thought, but smarter. He can write in complete sentences and everything! And, so, Barack Obama is his end game. He's like a racist, race-baiting Nostradamus.in