Saturday, February 26, 2011

Leaving Oscar For A Moment..To Look At The World...

Oscar Madness has provided a nice diversion, an escape from continued images and news of turmoil and uncertainty all over the world.  I am enjoying the predictions of my fellow movie-bloggers, their personal choices, and friendly debates.

Results from the Shocking Best Picture Oscar Quiz will be posted tomorrow (Sunday) before the show, so readers can impress their friends with unusual facts from the rich and wacky history of the Academy Awards. (Luke at Journalistic Skepticism did amazingly well....hope a few others will give it a go...!

But for now, I must briefly turn away from Hollywood artifice and comment briefly on some world events that have caught my attention, and occupied my thoughts, and troubled me.  These are brief impressions...nothing in-depth yet, just s snapshot of my reactions at this particular moment.

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Egypt:  The world watched as Egyptians toppled a reviled leader and leaders of the West scrambled to understand the ramifications and how to position themselves.  (Bahrain did not fare so well in their attempts at regime change.) But the "heroism" of the revolutionaries was tainted after CBS reporter Lara Logan was assaulted during a mob "celebration".  Since then it seems that Egypt is being sort of ignored in the daily media coverage.  It could be partly due to the bad taste left by that incident; and  partly due to the way coverage is always pointed at the "flavor of the moment", which for now seems to be Libya.

Libya:  It's hard to isolate the turmoil to one country in this region, because it's complicated to assess how things like tribal loyalty, western influence, and global big business can be contained within the somewhat artificial boundaries of an individual "nation".  What is alarming is how gas prices fluctuate so wildly during times of crisis.  It's a terrible reminder at how much our economy is dependent on hateful regimes.

Wisconsin: It is ironic that workers in Wisconsin are staging demonstrations to preserve their rights, only to see them being stripped away, while demonstrators on the other side of the world are demonstrating to successfully earn their rights.  Perhaps, when citizens in places like Egypt finally achieve Democracy, the Global corporations who pull the strings can strip their workers of collective bargaining rights as well.

Border's Bookstores Closing:  They simply built too many stores at a time when electronic delivery of reading material, and a general falling off of serious reading, was only beginning to take their toll.  I remember the first Borders I visited over 10 years ago in Schaumburg Illinois became my "second home", providing a comfortable and welcoming place to browse books and films, read hungrily, and feel safe as a gay person in suburbia.  Soon it got too big.  Oddly, their rewards program did not save on purchases at the register, but was good for coupons you would find in your e-mail; unlike Barnes and Noble, which resulted in instant discounts.   Reading is a paradoxical activity---you do it alone, but are stimulated into it by the presence of others.  I think small bookstores, which allow for intimacy surrounded by a community of other book-lovers, may soon prevail in a dwindling market for the lovely endangered species known as the book.

DOMA will not be defended:  This past Wednesday,  the Justice Department announced it would no longer be defending the Defense of Marriage Act.  In a story I found on the Huffington Post, Attorney General Eric Holder said President Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.
This is a sudden and very good piece of news, in spite of threats from Republicans that Congress will more ardently defend DOMA.  I have to wonder why it took so long to reach this conclusion, other than the obvious and cynical suggestion that it is the politically expedient thing to do now that the 2012 Presidential campaign is looming.  Mr. Obama is still wrestling with his "evolving" attitudes about same-sex marriage, instead of taking an objective view based on the interpretation of law.  Let's see how this plays out in some pending high-profile cases. 

Hateful language at a Town Hall Meeting: At a Georgia Town Hall Meeting last Tuesday, Republican Rep Paul Broun was asked: "When is someone going to shoot President Obama?"  Broun's lame-ass response:
"The thing is, I know there's a lot of frustration with this president. We're going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we'll elect somebody that's going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare."  This kind of threatening question should not get the dignity of a response...and it seems some politicians are still tacitly encouraging this type of attitude from unbalanced supporters...ANYthing for political support...
Have some people learned NOTHING from Tucson, January 8?


  1. It's not over in Bahrain yet, a country where I have limited experience but my sister currently resides, there have been a number of political prisoners released and I expect to see furter concessions from the ruling family in the coming months.

    It's not the first time the people of Bahrain have revolted but hopefully this will b the last time they need to.

  2. Ben, Yes, thank you, for reminding us of the activity in much to think about, and I am sorry I neglected this serious issue...I hope your sister remains safe. My thoughts go out to you both.