I have so many links for you this morning, let us start with a look at class warfare…I am reminded of the quote wrongly attributed to Marie Antoinette…Let them eat cake. Hamilton Nolan from the Gawker has a point….check it out: It Would Be Great if Millionaires Would Not Lecture Us on ‘Living With Less’
There is something about achieving great financial success that seduces people into believing that they are life coaches. This problem seems particularly endemic to the tech millionaire set. You are not simply Some Fucking Guy Who Sold Your Internet Company For a Lot of Money; you are a lifestyle guru, with many important and penetrating insight about How to Live that must be shared with the common people.
We would humbly request that this stop.
Meet Graham Hill. Graham Hill became a multimillionaire at a very young age when he sold his internet company in 1998. Good for him. We would not be telling you about Graham Hill at all, except for the fact that he wrote a remarkable op-ed in the New York Times Sunday Review yesterday in which he instructs you, the common man, on the virtues of “Living With Less.” He bases this prescription on the wisdom he has learned on his own personal journey, from millionaire with a big house and many material possessions to millionaire with a smaller house and fewer material possessions, but just as many liquid assets.
You can read Hill’s op/ed at that link, but I just want to post the last of this Gawker response, cause it is damn good.
A millionaire does not have the standing to tell regular people that money is overrated. Graham Hill moved into a smaller apartment and sold some of his stuff. But he sure as fuck didn’t empty his bank accounts. It’s easy not to have material things when you can just buy whatever you need, whenever you need it. ” My space is small. My life is big,” writes Hill. Of course it is! You can buy anything and go anywhere at any time, thanks to your vast wealth! The fact that a millionaire’s “life is big” offers little valuable wisdom to the common person. The presumptuousness is akin to a fat food critic walking out of a restaurant after a huge meal and telling a starving beggar on the curb, “Trust me—you don’t want to eat at this place.”
Money doesn’t matter at all, as long as you have too much of it.
Sure got that right, just like all these wealthy ass politicians that are dealing and scheming to do away with programs that are of no concern with them. (That also goes for the current president in the White House.) The White House Is for Sale Under Barack Obama, Too
On Wednesday night, at the swanky St. Regis Hotel three blocks north of the White House, President Barack Obama will schmooze with his biggest donors and most avid grassroots supporters at a “founder’s summit” for Organizing for Action, the controversial pro-Obama nonprofit group. OFA will use the email lists, social networks, and cutting-edge technologies honed during Obama’s reelection campaign to try to galvanize Americans in support of the president’s second-term agenda.
But watchdogs and reformers are up in arms after the New York Times revealed that supporters who raise or donate $500,000 or more will score invites to quarterly meetings with Obama and other exclusive perks unavailable to run-of-the-mill Obama supporters. “Access to the president should never be for sale,” said Common Cause president Bob Edgar.
Obama isn’t the first prez to do this, you can read more at the link, but it should not be surprising.
Oops, I got distracted, back to the issue of class. Well, I thought this was an interesting blog post over at Suburban Guerilla, written by OddManOut » Being white in Philly Mag
Chances are slim that Philadelphia Magazine‘s March cover piece, “Being White in Philly,” by Robert Huber, was meant as anything more than an exercise in cynicism. Huber had to know that his confused personal impressions regarding race relations didn’t add up to an actual story. And his editor surely saw that the piece was ill-conceived and unresolved, more likely to stir up resentment than encourage dialogue between black and white city residents.
Huber affected the “why can’t we all get along” tone of a white Rodney King, but with little bombs of condescension that could only have been meant to provoke:
But like many people, I yearn for much more: that I could feel the freedom to speak to my African-American neighbors about, say, not only my concerns for my son’s safety living around Temple, but how the inner city needs to get its act together.
Substituting “inner city” made Huber’s generalization seem even more insulting than it would have if he’d used “blacks.” His professed yearning to speak to his black neighbors reminds us that he didn’t quote, and perhaps didn’t even speak with, any black Philadelphians while doing his research (if you can call it that).
It seems the article was meant to piss off blacks while appealing to the magazine’s core demographic — reasonably well-off and well-educated whites who respond to ads for luxury cars and liposuction. Huber and Philly Mag were saying it’s OK for these whites to think of themselves as tolerant despite their fear and loathing of blacks; that it’s only natural to feel this way about people who, after all these years, still can’t get their act together.
Huber was writing more about class than race, but acknowledging this fact would have called attention to the superficiality of his analysis. He offered a brief history of white flight from Philly, but mentioned none of the underlying socioeconomic factors that have widened the gulf not only between whites and blacks but also between the well-off and poor of both races.
Hmmmm, I know Huber’s article is not the same as that op/ed from rich man Graham Hill, but it also seems to leave a bad aftertaste in the mouth. OddManOut continues:
There’s an even wider gulf between bad journalism and the truth. I was there, growing up in a Philly neighborhood that was transitioning from white to black in the 1960s-1970s, hanging out with other white kids who were engaged in an ongoing street war with black kids. The shootings and stabbings were manifestations of forces that all of us, black and white, couldn’t control or even understand.
These forces are still at work, and articles such as Huber’s do nothing to shed light on why they persist. But they do boost print sales and online traffic, and that’s the bottom line.
I guess this last sentence is in line with the Journalism post I wrote a few days ago. How the son of Fred Friendly stated, “making more money doing its worst…than it did doing its best.”
Alright, I am going to move on to the Vatican now. Here’s a few links on the Vatican’s selection of the new pope. According to Tommy Christopher over at Mediaite: MSNBC Contributor Compares The Vatican To The Soviet Union
But she meant it in the best way possible. On Tuesday morning, all three cable news networks devoted hours of airtime to complete coverage of Cardinals signing in for the latest conclave to elect a new pope, which made for television with all the electricity of a watch battery. On MSNBC, The Nation‘s Katrina vanden Heuvel broke up the monotony somewhat by telling fellow panelists that she was reminded of Soviet Russia, specifically “of the Communist Party. There is something about the need to have Kremlinology to understand who might be the next pope.”
Vanden Heuvel went on to explain that the next pope will need to be a reformer, along the lines of a Mikhail Gorbachev, to bring transparency to the Vatican. She also confessed to being a lapsed Catholic who agrees with E.J. Dionne that the next pope should be a nun…
Ditto on making the next pope a nun…but Tommy continues:
Although I only half-watched the coverage of what appeared to be the waiting room for the world’s slowest, yet busiest, doctor’s office, I am fairly confident that this was the most interesting thing said during the cumulative hours of cable news this morning. On CNN, without a trace of irony, they were talking about the betting line on who the next pope will be. On Fox News, Shep Smith was also talking about transparency, which is becoming one of the most overrated concepts in the media. It seems as though it’s more important to let people see the horrible things you’re doing than to do anything about it.
To be fair, I’m a much more lapsed Catholic than Katrina vanden Heuvel, so my level of investment in the new pope is lower than most, and while I begrudge no one their faith, the Vatican, as an institution, seems fatally flawed. Covering up and enabling child rape is something you shouldn’t even get one shot at, let alone several thousand. But even those who are considerably more forgiving than I am would be hard-pressed to find much of value in this saturation coverage of the papal conclave kickoff.
I agree with Christopher about the Vatican cover-ups, which goes without saying…but the Vatican is also filled with hypocrites. Check this out: As cardinals gather to elect Pope, Catholic officials break into a sweat over news that priests share €23m building with huge gay sauna
A day ahead of the papal conclave, faces at the scandal-struck Vatican were even redder than usual after it emerged that the Holy See had purchased a €23 million (£21 million) share of a Rome apartment block that houses Europe’s biggest gay sauna.
The senior Vatican figure sweating the most due to the unlikely proximity of the gay Europa Multiclub is probably Cardinal Ivan Dias, the head of the Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples, who is due to participate in tomorrow’s election at the Sistine Chapel.
This 76-year-old “prince of the church” enjoys a 12-room apartment on the first-floor of the imposing palazzo, at 2 Via Carducci, just yards from the ground floor entrance to the steamy flesh pot. There are 18 other Vatican apartments in the block, many of which house priests.
The Holy See is still reeling from allegations that the previous pontiff, Benedict XVI, had quit in reaction to the presence of a gay cabal in the curia.
And with disgraced Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien lending new weight to charges of hypocrisy against the Church’s stance on homosexuality, La Repubblica newspaper noted that the presence of “Italy’s best known gay sauna in the premises is an embarrassment”.
And if you really want to experience an early morning yuk factor, take a look at this link which features a real commercial for that gay sauna: Vatican Building Houses Gay Sauna
One more pope story, actually it is an interactive… from the Guardian: Choose your own pope – with our interactive Pontifficator
I’m going to go ahead and give you the rest of today’s news reads via a Link Dump:
This little nugget about the latest Bush candidate, from LG&M: The Little Brown One
Looks like there is some talk about men in a powerful positions who sexually assault women, via the Independent: Petronella, paedophilia, and the wrong lesson to draw from Olivier’s pass
Over at the Guardian, a story about the Generation self: what do young people really care about?
Salon discusses the paleo-diet: “Paleofantasy”: Stone Age delusions
Susie Madrak has this to say over at C&L… Sources: Koch Brothers May Buy The L.A. Times. Stay Tuned
And we will end with a little history: Aelfthryth, Queen of England
What are you all reading and blogging about today?
Today I saw a documentary about Burma called, They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain.
I think it is something that you should watch in full.
A novelist, filmmaker and physics lecturer at Cornell University, he went to the capital, Yangon, to teach film and make public-service ads as part of the Fulbright Specialist Program, one of the few American aid efforts in a country on which the United States has imposed heavy sanctions. Early on he was admonished not to film.
It was, he said, “a proverbial red flag for a filmmaker.”
And so he filmed, not quite clandestinely, but cautiously enough to avoid — mostly — attention in a place where photographing government buildings, military bases, bridges and even certain streets is grounds for arrest. During that trip, and three more over the next two years, he recorded 120 hours of video documenting life in a beautiful but oppressed and impoverished country, just as the stirrings of political change were beginning to appear.
(Here is a link to the film’s website: http://www.theycallitmyanmar.com/ )
The San Francisco Gate reviewed the movie and had this to say (emphasis is mine): ‘They Call It Myanmar,’ review: timely
“They Call It Myanmar,” but most of us know it as Burma, except we don’t know Burma, hardly at all, because it has existed under a military dictatorship for the last 50 years. The regime has deliberately kept it isolated from outside influences, and thus this documentary by Robert H. Lieberman, accurately subtitled “Lifting the Curtain.” The film provides one of the ultimate functions of a documentary, taking us into the life and culture of a people most of us would never know.
For the first 10 minutes, Burma looks like an ideal travel destination – gorgeous and exotic, full of pristine Buddhist temples and friendly people. But then you notice the military presence, and the fact that Lieberman isn’t allowed to videotape anything or anybody. (He does anyway.)
Few Burmese will make even the most innocuous criticism of the government, at least not on camera, out of fear of being carried off in the night. One man becomes positively giddy when asked his opinion of things – it’s the first time anyone has ever asked his opinion.
This “giddy” response is seen towards the end of the film, and it seems like the ending punctuation of the documentary’s statement. Not a period or question mark, but an exclamation point on the Burmese people’s culture, tradition and the powerful government/military/regime/colonial/royal rule these people have endured over the centuries.
There was another comment in the film that I thought was very telling. In discussing the religious nature of the Burmese people, the connection was made between the Buddhist teachings, and the contentedness of the people. That the people are too content…and that actually could be one of the things within their culture that has lead to the situation they are in.
Trailer for the film below…
You can see the film in full here, the cost is under 4 bucks: They Call It Myanmar: Lifting The Curtain – YouTube
Shot clandestinely over a two-year period by best-selling novelist and filmmaker Robert H. Lieberman, this film provides a rare look at the second-most isolated country on the planet – Burma. It lifts the curtain to expose the everyday life in a country that has been held in the iron grip of a brutal military regime for 48 years. THEY CALL IT MYANMAR, culled from over 120 hours of striking images, is an impressionistic journey. Interviews and interactions with more than one hundred people throughout Burma, including an interview with the recently released Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, are interwoven with spectacular footage of this little-seen nation and its people. Though Burma has tumbled from being one of the most prosperous and advanced countries in Southeast Asia to being one of the world’s poorest, THEY CALL IT MYANMAR is a story of beauty, courage and hope.
You can also stream it on Netflix, which is how I saw it.
As that quote from the movie’s youtube page states, Lieberman interviews Aung San Suu Kyi in the film, I have another review of the film, this time from the New York Times: In Aung San Suu Kyi’s Myanmar
She was released from house arrest in November 2010, shortly after Mr. Lieberman thought he was finished. He returned to Myanmar in February 2011 for the fourth time and arranged to interview her.
“ ‘No personal questions,’ ” Mr. Lieberman recalled her telling him at the outset, a stipulation that complicated the interview, which unfolded awkwardly and yet revealingly. In the film she reflects on the country, its colonial history and her father, Aung San, the revered revolutionary general who led it to independence from Britain, only to be assassinated by rivals in 1947, when she was just 2.
Only an exceptional 2-year-old could have remembered a father lost at that age, she says, poignantly revealing that her father was, for her, as mythical a figure as he has been for her fellow citizens. Hers is the most famous voice, but only one among dozens of people Mr. Lieberman interviewed — some shown with their faces obscured, almost all left unidentified on screen.
“I think a firm, strong, authoritarian hand cannot create unity,” she says in the film, explaining the mind-set of the military rulers up to the election of the new, apparently reform-minded president, U Thein Sein. “It can only give the appearance of unity.”
The film, made with a Sony camcorder (all the better to tuck away when necessary), unfolds as an episodic travelogue, interspersed with historic footage and explanatory narration (on subjects like why the country is known both as Myanmar and the old colonial name, Burma).
Some scenes — shot from Mr. Lieberman’s commercial flight from Thailand or from the window of a moving car — reflect the limitations of trying to film in a police state.
With Mr. Lieberman as the garrulous narrator, it includes clips that would not be out of place in a homemade vacation video, but also interviews that show, indirectly at times, the social and economic conditions of a country that closed itself off from the world for decades. Some of those interviewed speak openly, even candidly.
“Thinking is not an option,” one woman says, describing the Orwellian nature of the place; she is not shown on screen.
Reflect on that statement a moment, it puts the giddiness from the man who was simply asked what his opinion was into perspective, doesn’t it?
One more review from the NYT, this one from the Arts section: ‘They Call It Myanmar,’ by Robert H. Lieberman – NYTimes.com
Robert H. Lieberman/PhotoSynthesis Productions
A fisherman in the documentary “They Call It Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain.”
The movie covers the country’s history, including its domination by the British and Japan; its independence in 1948; and its fall to a military coup in 1962. It outlines the Buddhist precepts that sustain most of its people. And it addresses the 2007 nonviolent protests that Buddhist monks took to Yangon, a major city.
But most important, the film talks to regular citizens: on the street, in a restaurant, at a temple and tourist spot. Those interviewed are gracious and exuberant, living in a country rich in natural resources but trapped in crushing poverty.
In November of last year, this commentary on the Obama Administration was published in National Journal, written by Michael Hirsh: Obama’s China Encirclement Policy: Why It’s Likely to Work
Robert Lieberman, the maker of the critically acclaimed documentary, They Call It Myanmar – Lifting the Curtain, tells a story that exposes some of the cynical reality behind President Obama’s historic visit to politically imprisoned Myanmar today. Shortly after Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize-winning democracy activist, was released from two decades of house arrest in November of 2010, Lieberman was invited to show his film at a Yangon festival that Suu Kyi was organizing called “The Art of Freedom.” Thoughtfully, he informed the U.S. Embassy of his plans. Their reaction? Near-panic.
“They basically said, ‘No way should you do this. You cannot show a movie without it being cleared by [Myanmar] censors. We respectfully request that you remove any reference to the embassy, so it won’t seem to anyone that we helped you,’” says Lieberman, a Cornell University professor. Deferring to his government’s wishes, Lieberman showed his movie at the British Embassy in Yangon instead, without incident. “The British had guts,” he says.
There you have the Obama administration. It will defend human rights and democracy, but only when it’s suitable. And usually when lip service to human rights serves some other end. We saw a similar dynamic play out in the first year of the administration, when Obama’s “outstretched hand” to the Iranian regime led him to slight the “Green Movement,” a precursor to the Arab Spring uprisings that was subsequently crushed. In this case, the administration was just gearing up for a major strategic shift aimed at encircling China with allies old and new, and Myanmar, long isolated by Western sanctions, was deemed a key player. All of which suggests that if there is any president that Barack Obama most resembles right now on foreign policy, it is probably Richard Nixon, the master practitioner of cynical realpolitik. Except rather than opening China to outmaneuver the Soviets, 40 years later he’s opening Myanmar to outmaneuver the Chinese. And just as Nixon and his foreign-policy impresario, Henry Kissinger, never paid much attention to human rights, Obama is treating them as an afterthought as well.
This article was written before Obama visited the country…
Obama, of course, is describing Monday’s trip to Burma—the first-ever by a U.S. president—in very different terms. At a news conference in neighboring Thailand on Sunday, he sounded defensive after being attacked by human-rights activists. The harsh fact is that the long-repressive junta is giving up only a little power and has rigged its constitution to retain what it has and keep Aung San Suu Kyi from the presidency. Most recently the junta demonstrated this with a bloody crackdown on the Muslim minority, the Rohingya. Obama insisted he was ready to use economic leverage and said, “If we waited to engage until they had achieved a perfect democracy, my suspicion is that we’d be waiting an awful long time.”
Read the rest of that essay by Hirsch at the link above…I know we have linked to this op/ed previously on the blog, but it does need repeating here on this thread.
I wish there was a way to view this film without charge, but even if you need to pay to view, it is worth it. Please, take a look at it…wow.