Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Where’s my poll question?

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Steve Kornacki points out on Salon that the Quinnipiac poll, which asks, “Is your opinion of the Occupy Wall Street Movement favorable, unfavorable or haven’t you heard enough about it,” generates a largely negative response, while the CNN poll, which asks, “do you agree with the overall positions of Occupy Wall Street,” generates a largely positive response.

Well, yes, of course.

But, considering the successes of the movement in changing the national political dialogue back towards the economy, and now the broad spectrum – at least geographically – that the movement currently exhibits, who is to blame for the negative associations? Certainly, I’ve spent a lot of time writing words blaming the protesters themselves for their lack of savvy when it comes to public image, but I only really know New York’s folks, and while I could extrapolate that to the rest of the country, I doubt that everywhere is reacting the same and consisting of the same people. Clearly Oakland is not St. Louis.

I suspect that the case is still a pre-determined hack job by the Republican-led media outlets, who have decided from the start to portray the protestors as neo-hippies at best and bomb-chucking anarchists at worst. In that stead, Kornacki’s conclusion that “it might be a good idea for OWS to at least consider the ‘declare victory and go home‘ strategy” may not be the best idea in terms of paving the way for future demonstrations.

I mean, at the start I was already suggesting they do just that, but now the protest has simultaneously gone on too long and yet not long enough. To fire off a simple, resonant message, they’ve dawdled at the podium too long, yet, they haven’t been there long enough in the sense that, while the ball is indeed rolling, no lasting changes have been made or even promised.

What they need now is leadership: Something to give what is clearly a grassroots movement that has clearly struck a chord some cohesion and thus ability to deal with basic message hijacking and worse. It’s nice that they’re able to shrug the drawbacks of representatives in that the personal foibles of a leader can be attacked, but there is no decisive, unified stance against every little pin that a clearly hostile media has decided to poke them with.

That isn’t to say that the government or the Democratic party have fared much better: In reaction to the bleating of the Republican press that government is wasteful by making a fantastic – if completely untrue – soundbyte out of $16 muffins during a conference (fomenting images in the public eye of secret government projects hidden by budgets filled with $400 hammers, tho even that was merely bullshit from byzantine budget processes, as any procurement secretary can tell you), the Justice Department spent two years cobbling together an exhaustive – if completely moot – case that it had done no such thing. The turn-around time on that was simply too long, and the lies continued (and continue) unabated.

So, the question is, should the movement back down because it gets bad press? No. It will always get bad press. That’s the job of the media we have now. It and all other movements will get bad press. You can’t hide from that, and backing down now will present a bad precedent for future events. The movement should only back down if it finds it impossible to achieve any further goals, and I’m not entirely convinced that is yet the case.

In the meantime, maybe one of those committees they keep forming can work on media relations, perhaps?

Fire the Editors

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Andrew Leonard makes a rather tongue-in-cheek article about how Apple fanboys are railing against Obama over a speech he recently made at Hampton University, in which he says,

“Meanwhile, you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t rank all that high on the truth meter. With iPods and iPads; Xboxes and PlayStations; information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment.”

Leonard ends his article by clarifying that Obama is, after all, pointing out the difference between educating oneself on the world and filling one’s free time with the hyper-grapevine New Media has become. Hey, it’s a valid point and Leonard agrees with it. Which is why Salon titles his article “Obama’s self-hating iPad attack” and gives it a picture of Obama’s laser-beam eyes blowing up an iPad.

Thereby proving Leonard’s and Obama’s point. Irony.

Plus Sized

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Tracy Clark-Foley on reports on the “controversy” over Lane Bryant’s plus-sized ads being pulled from Fox and ABC, with the insinuation that the broadcast networks didn’t like the girth of the model. Then the comments explode in a sort of collective back-patting over how pretty the plus-sized lingerie model looks in the 30-second spot, calling her “curvy” and “voluptuous.”

Quite honestly, I didn’t see very many curves in that ad.

There was only one full body shot of the model, where-in she was donning a black overcoat. It was almost as if – gasp – they were surreptitiously editing out the curves! I mean, I saw that she had large breasts. I saw a close up of a little bit of stomach pudge over her ‘supporting’ briefs. But curves? It was a tasteful edit of a large woman, meant to sell lingerie to large women.

That’s fine: It’s a good business decision – as the average weight of the American rises, it would behoove clothing manufacturers to change their ads to sell to the average – but that decision is purely business. They don’t answer, “should I be this weight?” They answer, “can I feel a bit happier at this weight?” (Sure, if you buy Lane Bryant.)

“Curvy” is a euphemism. “Full-figured” is a euphemism. Once those get similar stigmas as the previous terms for large women, we’ll move onto “voluptuous” or “statuesque” or whatever, and pull out Marilyn Monroe’s corpse for another go-around to show how great curvy women are and why “larger than the norm” can still be considered sexy.

Marilyn Monroe was 120 lbs. That’s 20 lbs less than the average American woman nowadays. Consider that.


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Kate Harding argues on Salon against Michelle Obama’s health plan to target childhood obesity on the basis that it hurts their self-image and causes all manner of distress to the little butterballs. But a few things get me in how she presents the case:

Now, let’s unpack that a little bit. According to the CDC, for children, “Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex.” 12.5 percent of preschool-aged children, 17 percent of kids 6-11, and 17.6 percent of adolescents up to 19 are obese by those criteria. So the key words in that one-third stat are “overweight or” — combining the two categories makes the “childhood obesity epidemic” sound a lot more dramatic than it is. Granted, there has been a big jump in the childhood obesity numbers since 1980 (up from 5 percent, 6.5 percent and 6 percent, respectively), but the good news is, there’s evidence that it’s already leveled off.

Uh, if you define obesity by relative to the average, then when the average changes, the parameters that define ‘obese’ change. To put it another way, if the average person drinks a fifth of whiskey a day, only those who drink two fifths can be alcoholics. But wait, hold on: Doctors may have posited just why the numbers in that Center for Disease Control study leveled off:

Dr. Ludwig [of the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children’s Hospital Boston] said the plateau might just suggest that “we’ve reached a biological limit” to how obese people could get. When people eat more, he said, at first they gain weight; then a growing share of the calories go “into maintaining and moving around that excess tissue,” he continued, so that “a population doesn’t keep getting heavier and heavier indefinitely.”

This is as fat as we can get! We’ve reached the maximum capacity for fatness! Now we can only get more dense until we’re all American singularities. But back to Ms. Harding:

I’m sure you don’t have anything against fat kids, Mrs. Obama. But you know who does? Other kids. And a lot of adults, including parents who see their fat children as reflections of their own failings, as disappointments, as embarrassments, and doctors who see them as problems to be solved. You said in your speech yesterday, “Teachers see the teasing and bullying; school counselors see the depression and low-self-esteem.” But your solution to that is to get rid of the fat, not the hate.

You can’t solve a problem if you can’t call it a problem. Then again, making it socially acceptable to be unhealthy is totally a great idea.

I’m sorry, Mrs. Obama. I shouldn’t get so snippy with you, when it’s prejudice and hatred that really anger me. Like I said, I think what you’re doing here is great for the most part. But gosh, I wish you’d consider focusing on Health at Every Size instead of childhood obesity.

Sure, but at certain sizes there’s early-onset diabetes.

On a whim, I looked up Kate Harding. I think I found out where the anger was coming from.


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A number of decent articles to ponder. Krugman in specific appears to be easing into a new assumed role of political analyst since his tirades about how Obama isn’t radical enough economically earned him a drubbing by Emanuel.

But then, I read liberal rags.

A couple of very interesting older articles abound, especially about the fallacy of the “productive rich.” Indeed, the whole point about high finance and economic bubbles is that there is no actual production involved.

History is Twisted to Suit Somebody’s Needs


…so reports

No shit, Sherlock.

Look, I know you wanna modernize your reporting by making it more blog-like, but let the bloggers do the blindingly obvious fluff pieces. It’s the stuff that needs real investigation that we need actual journalists for.

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