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Posts tagged with Making A Difference

The Affaire Breitbart Starring Shirley Sherrod

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/22/deus_ex_machina.jpg

The saga of Shirley Sherrod and the 24 hour news cycle is one of these Greek styled dramas in which the climax involves the ancient "deus ex machina" device; the ending doesn't grow out of the actual event, but from a contrived, outside insertion, pushing a special agenda. The internet plays the role of the giant crane the Greeks used to allow a new character to suddenly appear from offstage to manipulate a story. Fending rage in the name of a revealed truth, the "god they manipulate by their own hands" (a rough translation of "deus ex machina") leads the real truth to a trap door where it instantly disappears.

Yet deeply embedded in this "search for truth" supposedly revealed by the original internet posting is the idea that those who stand up for civil rights want to and fully intend to take rights away from white people. This is an old saw, dating to slavery, used during the fight against segregation and job discrimination; that the advancement of rights for all means the denial of rights for some, especially whites. Racism in this instance is now being equated with the denial of rights to whites. The label of racism now tells whites over and over: you lose. You are the victims. As truth, Ms. Sherrod's real intent disappears; this "real" (read: contrived!) truth is what immediately pops through the door of the trap!

This dangerous message is being covered up by the righteous outpouring of sympathy that Ms. Sherrod richly deserves. Her father killed by whites, in a murder with witnesses in which nothing was done, she has taken the long journey to forgiveness and embraced, as a consequence of her personal tragedy, the more noble idea that no one of any color, background, or income level should suffer because of these circumstances.

Yet the person who posted the edited segment (who surely had the whole tape!) points to members of the audience appearing to support a position of inequality. This is a gross distortion of a cultural tradition, again substituting the contrived for the real. In truth, the nods and apparent signs of acceptance at that point in her story were expressions of empathy, a self recognition by those in the crowd that they had been there too, that they knew this journey, that they too had stepped along its path and walked in those shoes, before reaching higher ground. What was seen was no more than the congregation of a black church on Sunday empathizing with the preacher's description or confession of a personal sin. The congregation, as Ms. Sherrod's audience did, embraces this testimony common to all, acknowledging the act that was then transformed by Grace. It is Grace that leads to a better day and a clean heart.

This audience role of empathy, of saying and signifying "we are with you," has a long standing and well documented tradition and history in the cultural communications of the African-American community. It is how Grace is affirmed, in the church or in public, or even in the supermarket as I have witnessed. It should not be reframed, misinterpretated, and distorted for the grotesque advancement of an agenda of race baiting, hate, and division; it should not be seen as a "got cha" moment.

It should not be used to document an agenda that simpy doesn't exist, either in that speech--or in the high unemployment which is supposedly the Muslim African Socialist President's payback to white people for slavery. However ludicrous, the common message in all of this contrived gibberish is clear: white people lose when others gain. Those who stand for civil rights only really want to take away the rights of whites. Civil rights is only a code word and cover for racism--against whites! Therefore, "we" must intervene.

Unfortunately, that message has been put out, passed on, and remains; effectively lingering in some quarters whether Ms. Sherrod is re-hired or moves on. And the story of that message will be overlooked in the story of what happens next.

Thanks for reading! /wr. Please stir the Perlo, leave a comment. Image used under fair use.

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Wishful thinking

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/15/blowoutreventerCAMeronNautronix_NAsmux.jpg I wish BP was more transparent about the planning, review, and technical processes for sealing the well. It is unthinkable in 85 days the oil flow from a 21 inch pipe has killed the ocean's plankton, the key food source for marine life; annihilated America's most valuable wetlands and destroyed the natural habitat for one of our most important renewable industries; and impacted the fragile eco-system of the ocean and shore lines of five states--yet there is NO transparency about the choices of chemical dispersants, which by some reports have simply driven the oil out of sight, suspending it beneath the surface; where by other reports, its micro-particles cloud the waters and create the potential for vast dead zones and ultimately may do more harm than if the oil had been left to rise en masse to the surface. http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/15/Plankton_collage.jpg The same dark glass covers the engineering processes and decisions carried out by BP to cap the well. This delay of installing the new cap to debate the consequences of the well pressure on the bore hole should have been completed and settled weeks ago. Why is the science and assessment running behind the construction and installation of the cap? Is BP working from a multi-scenario model, projecting good, bad, and worse results? How is data being collected and assessed? Is sound theory driving the containment effort? Why does BP spend millions on advertising but will not open its doors to view how its teams use the most powerful tool in containing the well, the multiple disciplines of applied science?

This disaster is a fascinating story of science: an action thriller in which an important American legacy teeters in the brink, yet the science that is being used to fight the bilge is almost secret, unshared, and except for narrow specifics, unexplained. Television sound bites are a poor substitute for the many of us who want to be fully informed.

I, for one suggested, using conventional weapons and naval systems to implode the well; exactly what President Clinton suggested during an interview from South Africa. While the Times examined a nuclear option, the most sensational and unsafe of all the explosive methods, it did not explore with detail or careful consideration, non-nuclear options, how they were assessed, or why they were rejected, and by whom.

I've read blogs in which people have reported that Florida's marine biologists are reporting the death of the plankton, but have seen no follow ups or confirmations. There has been no investigative reporting on why BP developed three caps, only the last of which is intended to fully seal the cut pipe. There have been no reports on why the relief well, now within 400 feet of the main well, will take three to four weeks to finish.

The reporting of the science and the applied scientific processes being employed to seal the well has been dismal. The failure to use science reporting as leverage, to enhance transparency and offer insights has been an opportunity missed. Somehow it has added to the confused feelings and growing anger I have about the uncapped well.

I trust the science more than BP's PR. I wish I knew more about it, and somehow were better informed. http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/15/ageis_missle_luanch.jpg

Charleston, SC July 14th, 2010 1:00 pm

Stir the Perlo, leave a comment, /wr. All photos used under creative commons license, fair use, or government works. Blow Out Preventer, Cameron-Nautronix NASMUX, illustrated only for educational purposes; not the BOP installed on the Deepwater Horizon well.

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“I’ve Already Done the Screaming:” “Today I’m Jamming”

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/11/queens.gif

God is, indeed, good. Friday was my birthday. I prayed for the ancestors who saw us through the journey and for the One who guides our steps, offering thanksgiving for the ways my life has been enriched by family and friends.

But God's gift was a surprise!

The New York Times editors highlighted my comment on 2008 Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman's important and widely read economic blog.

In “Affluent Deadbeats,” commentor #22 calculated the stats as Dr. Krugman noted default rates (14.3%) for mortgages over $1 million are actually higher than defaults (8.5%) for mortgages under $1 million! Poor folk are defaulting at a lower rate, yet are blamed by many for the housing crash and banking collapse.

To celebrate my birthday, I'm sharing a direct link to my comment (#1) on the comment page. http://nyti.ms/ccmokk.

My comment is a difficult read. It references the Red Queen's famous exchange about "impossible things," from Chapter 5, " of "Alice Through the Looking Glass." This children's book, an adventure in make believe, is a conceit for author Lewis Carroll's larger idea that every age finds and is driven by its own obsessions.

We celebrated, having done the "impossible thing" and elected an African-American President. But now our country's obsession seems to be turning the “impossible” into the unthinkable. Other impossibles, spawned by the celebration, are engaged in the unthinkable--a closing assault on our values. Dr. Krugman documents and the Red Queen notes, all it takes is a little practice.

Surely, the rich defaulting on mortgages, if not impossible, is unthinkable. It assaults our values. It contradicts the incantation of "socialism," which supposedly robs the rich to support the poor; instead it is the poor who are being robbed.

By defaulting, the rich lose their moral edge. Socialism is being stood on its head, as Marx once did to Hegel. (An inside economic pun.) Things spiral out of control: in the comment, even I yield to the Red Queen's Looking Glass and flip Mr. Bourgeois. (Hint: there were two Bourgeois, Louis and Leon. And for Carroll's two Queens, even time going forward ran backward.)

What do we make of the new arrivals, blaming us while breaking convention, ranting day and night about the financial welfare of unborn grandchildren and imaginary trust accounts? If we are obsessed, we must learn to adapt. That's the point of my comment: our conventional views are being turned upside down.

To adapt, our curiosity must be forthright.

Is the "unthinkable" a reality deprived, or just unrealized, or by turns, feared, touted or ignored? Years from now, we'll all forget the mussels grab of Paul the Octopus or the 44X HD zoom on nails with manicured expletives. Greed is the new welfare. Vitriol, or any bitter abrasive, is the new truth. And instead of snake oil, we have the hype of “second amendment remedies” for our political ills.

Yet “impossible things” spiral around our core of meaning, like DNA in our genes: looking for a cake recipe this weekend, I found slaves and descendants from local plantations and the 1861 war; John Dent, Samuel Faber, and Muam Nancy's featured recipes preserve Charleston's traditional tastes. Their hoarded cooking memos from impossible times were collected and prized in a society cookbook whose 1976 printing run was 50,000. The unthinkable can be gotten beyond.

The Rules of Make-Believe

So, swimming against the Red Queen's strong admonition about surprises, I'm jamming today. That on my very birthday, my comment would be the first posted on a popular Nobel Prize winner's economic blog and highlighted as interesting and thoughtful by the editors of the New York Times--America's top online newspaper, its audience of 32.5 million viewed 715 million pages in May, 2010.

Read the comment, please. If you enjoy it (don't take off for the misspellings and typos!), please click recommend. That would be a great gift for my birthday!

Maybe a few others of the 30 million reading this month will note my riff tying Dr. Krugman's blog on defaults to the Red Queen's wisdom. She candidly foreshadowed a world where you had to go further down to get higher up, a culture in which the rich defaulted mortgages, oil bliged from down the hole in the hollow earth to despoil the waters and shores, the fish and fowl, and as usual, as she prepared us to note, sympathy was offered for the unthinkable. Because “We have already screamed.”

For your patience and service, I offer this prayer: "May the Great Spirit Bless you with the knowledge of your inner strength & wisdom."

From “The Looking Glass:”

Long has paled that sunny sky: Echoes fade and memories die: Autumn frosts have slain July.

Ever drifting down the stream -- Lingering in the golden gleam -- Life what is it but a dream?

In Memory of Professor O.R. Dathorne 1934 - 2007 http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/11/alice.jpg Illlustrations by John Tenniel, used under fair use.

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Right or Obtuse: Measuring Sharron Angle

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/07/partnershipfrenchafghan.jpg

I have an important question for Sharron Angle.

To the Republican nominee running against Senate Leader, Democrat Harry Reid in Nevada: Do “second amendment remedies” for disagreements over government policies extend to state legislatures and county and city councils, or should “second amendment remedies” just be confined to the federal government? Exactly how will this work?

I ask because I heard a recorded interview you did with a broadcaster during which you claimed. “our founding fathers, they put that second amendment in there for a good reason; and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government” . . .(you cited Thomas Jefferson, hope we don't have a revolution, but added) . . “if this government keeps going the way it is, people are looking toward those second amendment remedies, saying what can we do to turn this Congress around and the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out . . .” [my transcript, /wr; http://bit.ly/aO7awu].

Obviously, she's not talking about shooting Harry Reid, or calling for his assassination. Angle is skillfully using a rhetorical device; its ambiguity hammers home her point. But the irony of her pun belies its violence.

Angle touts her gun ownership and says she uses a “Dirty Harry canon.” But her words are a casual endorsement of extreme actions. Like an unlocked hand gun, her words are irresponsible and dangerous. Her example citing a founding American principle belittles the democratic process she wants to win, distorts the purpose of the second amendment and borders on sedition.

Her remarks could get people killed.

So I ask, how far is she willing to go?

Is the right “to keep and bear arms,” more important than feeding the hungry, tending the sick, comforting the dying or educating the youth, or adding jobs to the economy?

After all, a state senator in nearby Utah has called for the abolishment of 12th grade in Utah high schools to save $102 million; does Angle also support such drastic non-violent spending cuts?

Is she lured only by “lock and load?” How far down and when should these “remedies” begin?

Ms. Angle has called questions about her comments, “nitpicking”(http://bit.ly/aLnHWC+). She blames Harry Reid, her opponent, for the discussion and media focus; it's his policies she feels are wrong and his party is tone deaf to American protests.

But the rub is Reid and the Democrats who control the Senate and House were elected, state by state, district by district, poll by poll. They were elected by the ballot. Not by the bullet.

Sharron Angle has raised more than $1.4 million and has over 5,000 facebook friends. Her race with Reid is neck and neck. Yet her websites are spare with specifics.

So I want to know does she believe that the second amendment guarantees and encourages citizens to put up arms to overturn the government? Don't we settle our differences by elections? Don't we put forth our vision for society by legislation?

Do we want a country run by warlords, all claiming as warlords do, that they represent the people's vision? http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/07/revregimentcolumbia.jpg

There was a time when politicians who were clever with words and ideas got laughs, built loyalty by their wit, and deflated their opponents by exposing the absurdity of their positions.

Now campaign rhetoric is driven by a lower standard: anger. Anger is this year's requisite quality for high office. Anger and a determined obstinacy that is unwilling to explain political positions, discuss specifics, offer details, describe the impact of policies, or deflate their own rhetoric.

I recall a historic exception to the idea that the second amendment levels the political playing field, or can be used to accurately reflect the people's will.

Mrs. Angle makes no mention of it, but the second amendment has often been widely used to support tyranny at lower levels of society, especially here in Charleston, after the American revolution. Here's just one example, from the Charleston Gazette newspaper reported in 1817, “that the victim of an attempted robbery struck a slave running away in the skull with a “musket lock,” killing him. Upon the judge's hearing and recommendation, the slave's head was severed, foisted on a pike, and displayed “at the cross roads, near Ashley Ferry.”

This was the result of second amendment rights exercised by those who resisted government tyranny with the support and endorsement of others with like minds. http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/07/Revolutionary_Soldiers_2.JPG

But in 1817, politicians also engaged in rigorous debate, writing long detailed treatises, citing historic examples. Mrs. Angle seems to have reduced the current political discussion to sound bites, given to those she favors, who receive her pronouncements without any examination of her views or concrete specifics. This is dangerous because it exempts her from accountability, from buying into the long tradition that has stood the country in good stead of politicians setting down their views in detail so that the electorate can given those ideas carefully consideration.

Rigorous debate improves the process. Blaming your opponents, parodying our celebrated revolution, wrapping yourself in its cloak without the sacrifice or commitment to upholding its democratic values of accepting and working with your political opponents making holding office a farce. The American ideal of democracy was unheard of anywhere in the world until it became an American norm.

It is worthy of being maintained. It should not be lightly treaded on. And those who suggest a “second amendment remedy” to its issues and current miasma should have a lot of questions to answer.

That is a first amendment right. It is a longstanding remedy for our differences. It has worked effectively for more than 200 years. Let's hope Sharron Angle answers questions and proudly put the remedies of discussion and explanation guaranteed by the first amendment to good use.

Thanks for reading! /wr. Stir the Perlo, leave a comment. (All photos used under fair use; creative common license for educational use. 2006 Washington DC parade. Pennslyvania parade. Afghan photos provided by ISAF Public Affairs, isafmedia; from the ISAF facebook photo album. http://bit.ly/crCQSS.) http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/07/talk.jpg

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The Senate Judiciary Committee vs. Elena Kagan

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/01/Senatepanelkaganhearingjune2010.jpg In less tumultuous times, I might be more concerned about Elena Kagan's nomination. Having clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall, that with her wit, warmth, and engaging personality she could not find minority candidates to qualify for and accept available positions at Harvard Law during her tenure as Dean is glaring and difficult to ignore. (Even CNN has the affable and well reasoned conservative, Ron Christie.)Unfortunately, Republicans, while opposing discrimination are indifferent to affirmative action, and Democrats gave wide berth (a benign neglect) to Dean Kagan's ineffectiveness in broadening her faculty's diversity.

Instead, Sen. Sessions beat a dead horse during the hearings, with much thanks from both sides. He micro-debated the non-issue of job recruiting by the US military at Harvard, disputing whether it was fair that the military recruiters were subjected to Harvard's version of "don't act to challenge Congressional authorization that denies people with an intra-gender sexual orientation the right to be open members of our armed forces; instead move recruiters to another building, hold our noses and open our doors."

The simple shift of locations dramatically concealed Harvard Law's accommodation with the policy of "don't ask, don't tell."

Sen. Sessions missed the opportunity to inquire why, if Dean Kagan inherited this position, she did not lead a review to bring a legal challenge to a stature she felt discriminated; he should have asked in fact, is she tough enough to confront issues head-on that seem to violate original intent and non-discrimination statures, even if the battle and its results would be wildly unpopular.

The committee did an excellent job of talking past Ms. Kagan much of the time, to share for the public its own views on Supreme Court decisions, judicial philosophy, and dramatically debating in remarks its points of differences.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jul/01/Kaganjune10.jpg

I felt most of the time, Ms. Kagan was a moderator, offering background and context for the discussion, showing charm and intelligence, as she guided the opposing fractions of Senators through their oral arguments which were often removed from a review of her qualifications as a nominee for a lifetime appointment.

The background noise of states rights, talk of nullification, secession, state legislative changes to federal authority, the delegitimization of political authority seemed to push the Senators to safe but impassioned discussions of pet topics.

Actually, delving into the current ambiance of the vox populi and its reading of constitutional law along with the willingness of many States to challenge the Supremacy clause in Article VI would have made a fascinating, free-wheeling discussion of law, its relationship to governing, its role in society, the use and limits of executive power (eg. the Barton apology for BP's voluntary establishing an escrow account; BP's swiftest and most transparent action to date.) South Carolina's Sen. Graham came closest to engaging Ms. Kagan in this type of discussion during his questions. Other senators stuck to a narrow review of memos and briefs or jousted on social issues. Every one praised the progress of women.

Ms. Kagan was certainly a breath of fresh air. But the Senate committee missed a real opportunity to give Ms. Kagan a true chance to shine.

Thanks for reading! /wr. Stir the Perlo, leave a comment. July 9 is Walter Rhett's birthday; but sure to post a comment on that day's post.

(Photos from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court, by talkradionews. Used by permission under the creative commons license.)

Lyric excerpt from George Gershwin/Vernon Duke's "I Can't Get Started With You," from the 1936 show, "The Zeigfeld Follies," originally sung by Bob Hope.

I've been consulted by Franklin D. Even Di had me to tea But now I'm broken hearted I can't get started with you

You're so supreme, Lyrics I write of you Scheme just for a sight of you Dream both day and night of you, But what good does it do?

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Two Generals Face a Single Issue

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jun/30/Petraeuswhitehousemay2010.jpg The single issue shared by Generals Kagan and Petraeus, the two sides of the coin they hold in common, is what to do with the legions of enemy combatants that keep attacking us in the war against terrorism.

For the general responsible for the overseas terrorities, do we pile on and map out fire fights for another year? At the cost of how many more American lives? To what end? To enrich Karzai; to funnel money to the Taliban through the war lords providing road security? To aggravate ethnic tensions by dispensing instant safe status and cabinet positions to former Taliban while excluding from power those groups who carried out the country's resistance before the calvary came to complicate things?

From the Afghan, the whole thing sounds like a modified repackaging of thugs extracting tribute watching your car in crime-ridden neighborhoods; money can't buy friends, and after the pay-off they still hurt you and rip-off your car.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/Jun/30/KaganObamaWHMay2010.jpg To the general who hopes to ascend to the court deciding legalities for the Homeland, do we corral Afghanistan and hold the population as enemy combatants indefinitely? We don't need charges since the battlefield for terrorism lies in winning their hearts and minds.

Agreeable on procedures, both Generals sanctioned and tapped by the imitable SC Senator Lindsay Graham, neither General was willing to question the common goal. They both swore a common blind faith to a increasing bitter taste: a war that cannot be won.

Were Generals Kagan and Petraeus nominated by Obama or the Red Queen (from “In the Looking Glass," the one who believed in impossible things; all it takes is practice).

from Emily Dickinson's "An Awful Tempest Mashed the Air,"

An awful tempest mashed the air, The clouds were gaunt and few; A black, as of a spectre's cloak, Hid heaven and earth from view.

Thanks for reading! /wr. Stir the Perlo. leave a comment.

(Photos from the official White House photostream, White House meetings with Generals Petraeus and Kagan in May 2010. Permission granted to reprint for news and education as a US government work.)

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Comment #297: Comfort Think

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/May/29/Gulf_Oil_Spill_Lawsuits_802444012_.jpg For 40 days and nights, the dance of disaster has hovered near the edge of one of the world's most productive fisheries and one of the globe's most important eco-systems. The Gulf provides for the birth and balance of life that touches people, living things, and regions far beyond it. The NYT comment stream is instructive: some see the spewing well as an allegory of corporate Goliaths who team with and control the puppets (i.e., elected and appointed officials) of Big Government through force and finances (campaign contributions). Others see a lassiez faire issue and a simple but large and inevitable mistake that the world and a fragile Gulf environment are big enough to cope with; still others find no heroic actions--or heroes--that can be celebrated even as the efforts to kill the well continually fail. Others tremble and heap scorn and shame.

The fears and denial of the country are spreading like the plumes, and also has its own treacherous undercurrent: Sarah Palin who as governor of Alaska supported the destruction of Willow Bay and its self-renewing, self-sustaining multi-billion dollar salmon industry (the livelihood of indigenous American communities) to support granting rights for a private corporation to build one of the world's largest strip mines, dumping toxic waste into Alaska's waters now turns to point a finger at Obama as being bought, when a quick check of the numbers reveals that his contributions from BP for all of his elective campaigns totaled no more that $775,000, less than seventeenth thousands of one percent (0.0017) of the $454 million his campaign raised and spent during the 2008 President election alone.

The spewing oil has pushed BP, the Administration and Obama, and the public into criticisms that reveal a "comfort think," a kind of auto zone of actions, ideas, and behaviors individuals and organizations use to grasp and respond to unthinkable, horrific disasters.

The most telling example of this auto zone, of the isolation of corporate comfort think, is BP's suspension of pumping mud for the top kill, including during the very time the President persistently asserted at his press conference his command, knowledge, and oversight of BP's capping, clean-up, and containment operations. At the time of the President's assertion, BP had failed to notify federal officials of the suspension, including the President/White House! BP fails to see that what may be in their best interest as a corporation stands diametrically opposed to the public's best interest. And BP is completely and utterly unable to break its mindset. Its imperial attitude adds a clamor to the tremendous fears and anxiety of local officials and citizens along the Gulf and to concerned others across the nation and world.

Obama, too, has his mantras of comfort think: "this isn't going to be easy" is now a favorite (and non-compelling) cliche; yet, it is easily seen Obama is not holding BP or federal officials accountable for even the basics of communications, reporting, or manning operations.

I still suggest moving outside of the invisible but restricting limits of comfort think (media pundits are indicted by their parade of experts who have no new ideas) and embracing transparent and public discussions about two technical solutions readily available, within easy reach: ignore the Army Corps of Engineers review and design-build sea berms on Louisiana's submerged barrier islands; use the advanced Aegis system (operating in the Navy's Arleigh Burke destroyer class, built in Misissippi!) designed to guide torpedoes and small missiles with non-nuclear munitions with pinpoint accuracy underwater. True, the explosive charges would have to be re-configured and re-installed, a simple task for munitions experts who take down buildings by implosion without a brick flying across the street.

Kill the well. BP, spewing comfort think, is still trying to save it. Boom and the leak stops.

Thanks for reading!/wr. Stir the Perlo, leave a comment. (Image: Smoke rising from the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert; Reuters (below) used under fair educational use.) http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/May/29/handsoil_.jpg

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Comment #297: Spewing Comfort Think

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/May/29/Gulf_Oil_Spill_Lawsuits_802444012.jpg For 40 days and nights, the dance of disaster has hovered near the edge of one of the world's most productive fisheries and one of the globe's most important eco-systems. The Gulf provides for the birth and balance of life that touches people, living things, and regions far beyond it. The NYT comment stream is instructive: some see the spewing well as an allegory of corporate Goliaths who team with and control the puppets (i.e., elected and appointed officials) of Big Government through force and finances (campaign contributions). Others see a lassiez faire issue and a simple but large and inevitable mistake that the world and a fragile Gulf environment are big enough to cope with; still others find no heroic actions--or heroes--that can be celebrated even as the efforts to kill the well continually fail. Others tremble and heap scorn and shame.

The fears and denial of the country are spreading like the plumes, and also has its own treacherous undercurrent: Sarah Palin who as governor of Alaska supported the destruction of Willow Bay and its self-renewing, self-sustaining multi-billion dollar salmon industry (the livelihood of indigenous American communities) to support granting rights for a private corporation to build one of the world's largest strip mines, dumping toxic waste into Alaska's waters now turns to point a finger at Obama as being bought, when a quick check of the numbers reveals that his contributions from BP for all of his elective campaigns totaled no more that $775,000, less than seventeenth thousands of one percent (0.0017) of the $454 million his campaign raised and spent during the 2008 President election alone.

The spewing oil has pushed BP, the Administration and Obama, and the public into criticisms that reveal a "comfort think," a kind of auto zone of actions, ideas, and behaviors individuals and organizations use to grasp and respond to unthinkable, horrific disasters.

The most telling example of this auto zone, of the isolation of corporate comfort think, is BP's suspension of pumping mud for the top kill, including during the very time the President persistently asserted at his press conference his command, knowledge, and oversight of BP's capping, clean-up, and containment operations. At the time of the President's assertion, BP had failed to notify federal officials of the suspension, including the President/White House! BP fails to see that what may be in their best interest as a corporation stands diametrically opposed to the public's best interest. And BP is completely and utterly unable to break its mindset. Its imperial attitude adds a clamor to the tremendous fears and anxiety of local officials and citizens along the Gulf and to concerned others across the nation and world.

Obama, too, has his mantras of comfort think: "this isn't going to be easy" is now a favorite (and non-compelling) cliche; yet, it is easy to see Obama is not holding BP or federal officials accountable for even the basics of communications, reporting, or manning operations.

I still suggest moving outside of the invisible but restricting limits of comfort think (media pundits are indicted by their parade of experts who have no new ideas) and embracing transparent and public discussions about two technical solutions readily available, within easy reach: ignore the Army Corps of Engineers review and design-build sea berms on Louisiana's submerged barrier islands; use the advanced Aegis system (operating in the Navy's Arleigh Burke destroyer class, built in Misissippi!) designed to guide torpedoes and small missiles with non-nuclear munitions with pinpoint accuracy underwater. True, the explosive charges would have to be re-configured and re-installed, a simple task for munitions experts who take down buildings by implosion without a brick flying across the street.

Kill the well. BP, spewing comfort think, is still trying to save it. Boom and the leak stops.

Thanks for reading!/wr. Stir the Perlo, leave a comment. (Image: Smoke rising from the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert; Reuters (below); used under fair educational use.) http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/May/29/handsoil.jpg

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Speak Low, BP/Obama

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/May/25/oilspillpost.jpg For the second time in 2 weeks, New York Times editors highlighted my comment on a Times article for its "most interesting and thoughful" view; this time on the May 24, 9:18am (EDT) blog post, "Something Rotten At Interior," by Nobel Prize winner and Times columnist Paul Krugman. Of 18 comments, mine was the only one so noted. As Duke Ellington, once told a English woman who remarked that he and Charleston-born, Cout Basie rhythm guitarist Freddie Green were the top, "Madam, I'd say I'm in good company." The comment (slightly edited by me) appears as today's Perlo. Please, comment about the oil spill; email officials, reply on twitter, push those in responsibiity. It is outrageous that we have not taken to the streets in protest.

http://bit.ly/wrsp14+ (unedited) walterrhett Charleston, SC May 24th, 2010, 10:16 am

The conundrum of change, as the poet W. H. Auden once said, "surrounds us like a baffling crime." Institutional practices, especially in government, are reinforced by a group mind set, by a cultural acceptance, and by a personal ethic that defines the thinking and limits of action, denying other possibilities and easing the way for more of the same. The most egregious example of this apparatnik presence in the thoughts and actions of high government is the dismal and banal lack of response to the dangers our nation faces daily, increasing and imposed by the oil spill from US leases to a private multi-national, BP. Interior and Ken Salazar, and more importantly, Barack Obama, have no sense of self discovery; they are trapped in spin mode, in political crisis management, issuing a covering fire of statements that have absolutely nothing to do with advancing the clean up or stopping the leak. BP has misreported and impeded all efforts for public oversight, delaying reports, pretending to release their "best" numbers (numbers which reflect what is best for BP!), announcing ludicrous strategies doom to fail even before they are tried. Sadly, this crisis, looming to become the largest and most destructive in American history, for both citizens and the economy, is simply, more business-as-usual.

Clear evidence of this is seen in two examples: despite continuous calls from Plaquemines Parish leaders who have requested to BP and Interior for more than a month that a sea berm be built on top of Louisiana's submerged sea islands to protect the coast, at any estimated cost of $350 million--extremely cost effective considering no one at this point knows how long the spill will continue or the final size of the spill. Plaquemines Parish officials are met with phone calls not being returned or key contacts unavailable, in meetings. In meetings with who? And why are Plaquemines Parish officials left out of those meetings?

The second example is the President's failure to review the use of Arleigh Burke class Aegis destroyers to detonate non-nuclear torpedoes or missiles to implode the site. There is adequate authority, both by Bush memos and under John Warner's 2007 Defense Act to override posse comitatus.

When specifics are omitted, as they are by Gibbs, Salazar, Axelrod, and Obama, and the language becomes more strident and general, that is a sure sign that the crisis will only grow and the unspoken inaction will only enable this incredible disaster to broaden its suffering.

Thanks for reading, /wr. Stir the Perlo, leave a comment. (Image from google images, used for educational purposes under fair use.)

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Carolina Shout: A New Media Riff

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/May/14/BeardenCarolina_Shout.jpg The neat thing about my laptop is the whimsy it brings to my eyes. Daily, as I scroll through the posts on twitter from my 100 followed sources, a parade of gaffes and snapshots touch my soul. Resonating with the silent feeling of old time stride (piano), their off beats colors the day's character. Between laughing and crying, foibles flash by in every new minute that leave me astounded at how wretched is the human hope. How quick we now receive its notice! How abundantly is our condition confirmed! How quickly the state of our state of disbelief spreads:

E.coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce spreads to 4 states, sickens at least 23, CDC says

Can't we wash the lettuce? Is it the same farm? Why only romaine? Is there more being untold? Where's our guidance? Click the link: an Arizona farm; Michigan, Ohio, New York, Tennessee; Southern Perlo publishes in those states. Are my readers safe?

Venezuelan gas rig sinks, workers safe

Again? What happened? Will the whole Atlantic be an oil slick?

Jobless claims drop for fourth straight week

Good news, but what happens when the oil hits the beach, coats the coral, kills the fish, and spreads across the US's most important eco-system? Will New Orleans survive another blow?

Nigeria: Key Oil Pipeline Suffers Damage

Are petroleum and bio-carbon fuels the new terrorist threat to destroying the planet, its destruction chained to and triggered by our convenience and indifference?

Dead Heat in Pennsylvania Primary

I thought the death panels were delayed until 2014? Who ordered this political “dead” heat?

A political ad in Kentucky features a chiming cuckoo clock.

And echoes of Obama's election:

Nigeria: President appoints Sambo as veep

Surely, this is racial profiling . . .

But world powers have new names and places, and visit new places:

UN boss Ban Ki-Moon visits Africa http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/May/14/ban-ki-moon.jpg And, this, just in, from China, the world's economic and population powerhouse:

Speculators blamed for garlic price hikes in China

“Drastic” the increase is called. On China Daily, the national English language newspaper for China, whose website is China's main English portal, read widely by government officials, I am only the second comment on Karzai and Obama's Washington meeting, after HsunTze, who had many questions which I tried to answer honestly.

China has over one million writers online

But nobody commented at the end of the web article touting China's expanding literary and journalistic voices, many paid. How can I ever compete? I lleave a comment. It appears 12 hours later.

And it only the first half hour of a new day. http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2010/May/14/leadsheetCarolinaShout.bmp

(Posted from Charleston, SC, Thursday, 05/13, 9am, while listening to MN jazz radio, KBEM, 88-5 FM, on the web. “Carolina Shout” is a stride piano composition by James P. Johnson, popularly performed in the 1920's, a favorite of audiences and dueling pianists, who played it with hot rhythms, technical virtuosity, great zest, and abounding joy.)

(from google images: romaine lettuce; Ban Ki-Moon; the lead sheet to Carolina Shout; Romare Bearden's "Carolina Shout;" educational fair use.)

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