July 11, 2006

Heading home for death's raincheck


A mosaic by Space Invader, Paris, 2006.

Space Invader is the most well-known and most original of France's post-graffiti artists. He revolutionized street art with one basic tactic: He zeros in on the characters from the cult video game that inspired his alias and translates their pixels into tiled mosaics. Since 1998 he has unleashed approximately two thousand of these bitmapped creatures across thirty-four cities around the world, and has hit everything from the Hollywood sign to the Jiulong public pier in Hong Kong.

* SYD BARRETT has died. RIP, SYD.

* Molly Ivans on the politics of greed. excerpt:

"I don’t get it. What’s the percentage in keeping the minimum wage at $5.15 an hour? After nine years? This is such an unnecessary and nasty Republican move. Congress has voted seven times to raise its own wages since last the minimum wage budged. Of course, Congress always raises its own salary in the dark of night, hoping no one will notice. But now it does the same with the minimum wage, quietly killing it.

"Anyone who doesn’t think this is a country where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer needs to check the numbers—this is Bush country, where a rising tide lifts all yachts.

"According to the current issue of Mother Jones:

"-- One in four U.S. jobs pays less than a poverty-level income.

"-- Since 2000, the number of Americans living below the poverty line at any one time has risen steadily. Now, 13 percent—37 million Americans—are officially poor.

"-- Bush’s tax cuts (extended until 2010) save those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 an average of $10 a year, while those making $1 million are saved $42,700.

"-- In 2002, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, compared those who point out such statistics as the one above to Adolph Hitler (surely he meant Stalin?).

"-- Bush has diverted $750 million to "healthy marriages" by shifting funds from social services, mostly childcare.

"-- Bush has proposed cutting housing programs for low-income people with disabilities by 50 percent.
...
"It seems to me that we’ve seen enough evidence over the years that the capitalist system is not going to be destroyed by an outside challenger like communism—it will be destroyed by its own internal greed. Greed is the greatest danger as we develop an increasingly winner-take-all system. And voices like The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page encourage this mentality by insisting that any form of regulation is bad. But for whom?

"It is so discouraging to watch this country become less and less fair—"justice for all" seems like an embarrassingly archaic tag. Republicans have rigged the "lottery of life" in this country in ways we don’t even know about yet. The new bankruptcy law is unfair, and the new college loan rules are worse. The system has been stacked so that large corporations have an inside track over small businesses in getting government contracts. We won’t see the full consequences of this mean and careless legislation for years, but it starting to affect us already.

* Mark Morford: George Bush is dead to me. excerpt:

"Everyone I know has had enough. Everyone I know is just about done. There is this threshold of happy deadened disgust, this point where the body simply resigns itself to the pain, a point where the disease, the poison has seeped so deeply into the bones that you just have to laugh and shrug it all off and go for a drink. Or 10.

"I was having cocktails recently with a group of people, among whom were two lifetime Republicans, each in his 60s, corporate businessmen, one admittedly slightly more moderate than the other (to the point where, after once hearing a senator read off a long list of Bush's hideous environmental atrocities, actually let his conscience lead his choice and ended up voting for Kerry) but nevertheless both devoted members of the party.

"Bush came up, as a topic, as a cancer, as a fetid miasma in the air. They were both shaking their heads. They were sighing heavily. They were both, in a word, disgusted. The more staunchly conservative of the two even went so far as to say he was so embarrassed and humiliated by this president, by this administration, so appalled at all the war atrocities and the wiretapping and the misuse of law, the fiscal irresponsibility and the abuse of the lower classes and the outright arrogance, that if the Dems could somehow produce a decent moderate candidate with a brain, he'd have zero problem switching allegiances and voting for him. Or her.

"It may not sound like much. It may not seem like a major shift. But it is, in its way, sort of massive. For thoughtful Repubs with a conscience (they actually exist, I have seen them), there is little left to defend. There is little this administration has done among all categories of ostensible GOP values that they can look to with any sort of pride. Medicare? Shrinking the budget? Smaller government? Less intervention in our lives? Reduced spending? Increased respect in the international community? Responsible international citizen? Ha. Name your topic, BushCo has failed. Spectacularly. Intentionally.
...
"This is where it stands: Bush can in no way risk alienating the ultra-right-wing bonk-job contingent that put him in office (they are, considering Bush's 32-percent approval rating, the only ones left even remotely supporting him -- even though, according to many estimates, they're starting to abandon him, too), and hence all policy and all agenda items from here on out will be even more vicious and desperate in an attempt to shore up the base. Hence trying to mutilate the Constitution to ban gay marriage. Hence attacking the New York Times and claiming newspapers are endangering American lives.

"In other words, Bush's latest nasty, Rove-designed salvos and upcoming attacks to save a sliver of power and pride and sneering GOP control are just the beginning.

"However -- praise Jesus and pass the scotch -- they are the beginning of the end."

* "Writers seldom write the things they think. They simply write the things they think other folks think they think." -Elbert Hubbard

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