A Sense of Proportionality

Getting lost is the fact that OWS changed the conversation. The narrative that wealth trickling down works has been largely rejected. The notion that your can’t fight back against the banks has been proven to be false.

Things in the world have been annoying me, and I think there’s a common theme: everything seems to be perceived as equal as everything else. I go to a news aggregator and I see the latest on the wars, a bad weather event, and the most recent person voted off a reality show, and it’s all treated similarly, as though they have the equivalent news value.

There has been a run of misstatements by US politicians recently, and they are not the same at all. US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid recently talked about being done before the Easter recess, then quickly corrected himself to say Thanksgiving. In a debate, Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry has a brain freeze and can’t remember the departments he’d eliminate, and some pundits declare his candidacy over; it WAS bad but human. GOP candidate Herman Cain not seeming to know that China had gotten nuclear missiles – over 40 years ago! – or the US position vis a vis Khaddafy’s Libya seems less like a gaffe, which I think means a relatively trivial matter, and more like a fundamental shortcoming.
***
Re; the Occupy Wall Street, et al movement. There were basic truths about income inequality that fueled the protests. But recent polling suggests that the OWS has become less popular, not, I submit, because of the wrongness of the original premise, but because of the obfuscation over whether or not the protesters had the right to essentially live in public parks, and the manner in which they were removed by the police. In fact, it has been the heavy-handed response by authorities in many cities, such as NYC; Oakland, CA; Burlington, VT; Portland, OR; and Chapel Hill, NC, which has actually energized the movement, rather than defeat it. Of course, I know from too many rallies that “the people, united, can never be defeated.”

Getting lost by critics is the fact that OWS changed the conversation. The narrative that wealth trickling down works has been largely rejected. The notion that you can’t fight back against the banks has been proven to be false. There’s a pushback against the idea that unions are all costly, terrible mistakes. There is an economic disparity, and if there is a class war, it isn’t the 99% waging it. So a poll of whether one supports the movement is facile at best.
***
Another issue: the alleged sex crimes at Penn State. Jaquandor hit on much of it when he noted that PSU isn’t the victim here; children allegedly are. And I should say here, I suppose, that Jerry Sandusky is innocent of the charges against him until proven guilty. What I am compelled to note, though, is guilty or not, Jerry Sandusky is an idiot. Who thought it was a good idea to agree to a phone interview on national television? His lawyer, who had a child by an underage girl more than 30 years his junior? His lawyer is an idiot too.

I read an article by a local retired journalist, which I cannot now find, that suggests that people have watched so many “real” people interviewed on TV after a tragedy that they feel some sort of obligation to do the same. This is a false assumption, and especially when one has been indicted. Sandusky, from everything I’ve seen of him, seems to think HE’S the misunderstood victim here. Some free legal advice: Jerry Sandusky should say NOTHING, at least until his trial.

What the heck is behind Congress considering a bill counting pizza as a vegetable? A paean to some fast-food lobby or hostility towards Michelle Obama’s efforts towards healthier living? Or something else?

I believe in intellectual property rights, but the Stop Online Piracy Act, proposed in the House of Representatives, and the companion bill PROTECT IP (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) is a pair of oxymoronic newspeak titles, just like peacekeeper missiles and the USA PATRIOT Act. As an intellectual property attorney I know puts it, the proposed law is “insidious and dangerous. It will change, some say break, the internet as we know it, by turning the internet into a limited portal where you can’t do much more than buy what they want you to buy, and only from them, and to read only what they want you to read, and for a price.”

Yet the legislation has a good chance of passing with bipartisan political support, despite the opposition of Google, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Linked In, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo, and Zynga. This is bad law, and could easily affect those not in the United States as well,

Done ranting. Or, I’ve run out of time.

Unhappy Valley

It’s POWER, and the peculiar notion that “we can look the other way because of the rightness of our cause.”

As you may know, Joe Paterno, coach of the Penn State University football team for 46 years, was fired this week, along with the university president, Graham Spanier. Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky…has been indicted on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years… Paterno, who, reportedly, was specifically told of one terrible incident, and mentioned it to university authorities without any follow-up, had been revered on the campus. The football program had been a model of a “clean” program. If you have the stomach for it, check out the grand jury indictment against Sandusky [PDF], which, as the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office noted, “details a disturbing pattern of sexual assaults on young boys, all of whom Sandusky met through his involvement in the charitable organization known as The Second Mile – an organization that Sandusky himself founded.”

It was clear to me early on that Paterno had to go, preferably before this weekend’s home game; he is the face of PSU. It’s peculiar to me, though, how people who don’t follow sports are blaming the influence of sports in society for this debacle. It’s not just sports per se, or religion (see: the sex coverups THERE) or politics. It’s POWER, and the peculiar notion that “we can look the other way because of the rightness of our cause.” As this ESPN article notes: “Joe Paterno and Penn State officials were faced with a critical choice about damning information and chose to protect the program. This is what power has become. This is what power has always been.”

So the following morning, my wife tells me that the students are rioting because Paterno got fired. Surely she’s mistaken; maybe they were rioting as a result of the outrage over the stain to their community. Nope, she was right, although, in the light of day, some students have been wearing pins in support of the victims of the alleged crime.

For a greater understanding of the complexities of this case, I recommend the two articles cited here.