censor, census

29 08 2007

Before I launch in: My hiatus from upside down again is mostly due to my recent decision to post only “happy” news and opinions articles, and nothing happy has really been happening lately (except for the resignation of Mr. Gonzales, which deserves a Rove-like round up pretty soon). So nix that idea. I’m going to write about today’s release of the 2006 Census Report.

When I picked up the paper today, I wanted to launch into a tirade against the New York Times. The headline, “US Poverty Rate Declines Significantly” is an enormous misnomer and an egregiously erroneous contribution to the Bush Administration’s still-miraculously-inflated communal ego. And Bush did seem rather pleased with the newest statistics, which show a 0.3 percent decrease in the poverty rate since last year:

“”When we keep taxes low, spending in check, and our economy open — conditions that empower businesses to create new jobs — all Americans benefit.”

Sometimes I wonder if Mr. Bush reads. I mean, obviously he doesn’t read a lot, but I wonder if he even really looks at reports like this one, or if he just sees some numbers on a page and draws his own ludicrous conclusions. For if he had just perused and probed the report just a teensy bit more he might find that there has also been an increase in the number of Americans without health insurance, from 44.8 million in 2005 to 47 million last year.

Furthermore, the decrease in poverty rate is not, as might have misguidedly been assumed, due to an increase in wages across the board (in fact, wages  have dropped since last year on a whole); it’s due to an increase in jobs created last year after oil prices momentarily went down because our president felt that millions of human lives in Iraq and Afghanistan were just a price we’d have to pay. If anything, the man finally has an excuse to parade his success abroad: “Look! I’ve created jobs by killing civilians for oil!” But instead he makes it about taxes. I could go on and on about how wrong this is, but I’ll restrain myself.

So, as noted, I was going to berate the New York Times for headlining this front page article so spuriously… until I got to the unsigned editorials. The lead article, hearteningly, is titled “A Sobering Census Report: Bleak Findings on Health Insurance.” There we go. That’s more like it. Keep it coming.

The piece rightfully launches:

The Census Bureau’s report on the state of American health insurance was as disturbing as its statistics on poverty and income. The bureau reported a large increase in the number of Americans who lack health insurance, data that ought to send an unmistakable message to Washington: vigorous action is needed to reverse this alarming and intractable trend.

Yes, New York Times. Good. Well done. Go forth then.

This time, thankfully, the job has been done for me. The Census report today is like that scenario that everyone and their mother falls for on Let’s Make A Deal. It’s like, “You could choose what’s behind door number one… or you could take this wad of cash.” And you don’t know what’s behind door number one, but you see the wad of cash, and on the OUTSIDE, there’s a crisp $100 bill, and you think, “Well, this looks good, there could be MORE $100 bills in there, nestled beneath the first,” so you choose the $100 bill because it LOOKS so good on the surface, and then, of course, buried beneath are just $1s. And behind door number one is, like, a $1 million boat or something.

Bush’s “no more tax” policy LOOKS good… and his $100 bill (for now at least) is the sharp decline in poverty last year. But beneath the surface, there’s bad news: poor wages, bad health insurance, wider gaps between classes. Progressive policy changes are the $1 million boat this country will never receive because they’ll never be able to see past the wad of money Monty Hall is waving in our faces.


heeding headlines

16 08 2007

I opened the newspaper today and here were the leading headlines:

And I thought to myself: This is depressing. I’m depressed today. I just want to leave work, get on the subway and go back home to watch reruns of The Wonder Years.

Then it hit me.

Upside Down Again, as of today, finally finds the direction its always been looking for: This blog will here on in be a beacon of hope in the great sea of despair that is the U.S. News and Tabloid Jungle. I’ll scour the newspapers for buried headlines that will turn your frown (wait for it…) upside down. Why not? Good things happen in this world every day; and after all, a spoon full of sugar certainly does help the medicine go down.

rovin’ good time

14 08 2007

In the spirit of Karl Rove’s resignation, spend the morning after (as you nurse your hangover from last nights He’s-Finally-Gone bash) reading this very funny Karl Rove rap, via the wyvern920 Web site. A sample:

Now listen up suckers
Don’t get the jitters
But MC Rove tears the head off critters
That’s true, it’s cruel to see
But he’s gonna be about animal cruelty
He’s a man, he’s a treasure trove
Tell me what is your name?
I’m MC Rove

The full entry is pretty spectacular…

And here are a few more blog entries that did Mr. Rove justice in the aftermath of this August shocker:


web updates

13 08 2007

As you can see, I’ve redesigned the site. Most notable, however, is that I’ve added a daily poll called “the daily tab” (although it might grow to be a weekly poll or something, I’m not really sure yet) over on the sidebar to the left. No one has yet answered the daily poll, which today is about Karl Rove. You can cast your vote by clicking on your chosen answer. How political of me.

Nothing much else has changed, except the site is suddenly a lot cleaner and nicer looking. And I put that picture over in the upper left-hand side, too! All kinds of exciting changes, huh?

caged birds sing

12 08 2007

As an animal rights activist, I’ve been recently blown away by this recent surge in passion for the movement. I went to City Bakery in New York the other day, fully expecting to resign myself to some iced tea and maybe a bagel, and they had three separate vegan cookie options (which cost and tasted on par with the non-vegan fare). The dining section of a recent Wednesday Times article chronicled (at 3000 words, no less!) the plights of different animal rights groups across the globe. And during a storm last Friday walking to work near Union Square and carrying a Food Fight canvas bag (Food Fight is a tiny, Portland-based vegan junk food mart), a complete stranger grabbed my shoulder and said, “Food Fight! Nice!”

I thought it was possible this was all sheer coincidence… until, that is, this morning at (vegan) brunch when a friend pulled out the front page of the Sunday Times displaying a color shot of chickens in a supposedly cage-free environment (shown)New York Times -- ; the corresponding article declaring, “The toy industry had its Tickle Me Elmo, the automakers the Prius and technology its iPhone. Now, the food world has its latest have-to-have-it product: the cage-free egg.”

It’s true, of course, that the demand for cage-free eggs is high. That’s good news. Cage-free eggs, though, as the story just touches on, really aren’t much of an improvement from their alternative (just check out the picture). Although I do remember the days in high school when I’d preach to crowds of six or seven fellow revolutionaries about the horrific eight-to-a-single-cage, de-beaked, de-feathered, diseased conditions caged chickens were doomed to. As the Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society concludes in the article, “While cage-free certainly does not mean cruelty-free, it’s a significant step in the right direction.”

While I’m thrilled at the awesome reality of the biggest newspaper in the United States running an animal rights story on the front page (I never thought I’d see the day, truth be told), I can’t help but think of lying in my room debating vegetarianism with a jaded ex-vegetarian roommate last semester, who aptly reminded me that veganism was an expensive, bourgeois cause. And while I bitterly fought with her, reminding her that a salad or mashed potatoes was exponentially cheaper than a sirloin, I couldn’t help but agree with her a little in my head.

And then there’s this little wish-it-weren’t-true tidbit in the Times article:

“There is a lot of talk about cage-free, but are people actually buying them?” said Gene Gregory, president of the United Egg Producers. “I think the consumer walking into the grocery store sees cage-free and they cost two or three times more, and they don’t buy them.”

Mr. Gregory is right. Sure, there are a lot of people buying cage-free eggs, and everyone would probably like to be buying cage-free eggs (except the truly heartless, but let’s exclude them from this discussion). Unfortunately, animal rights has become a cause that many well-meaning liberals view as in blatant conflict with many human rights. There are a lot of people who frankly don’t have the means to eat vegan, and that’s a really depressing reality.

Our food and agriculture system has grown to be such a divine mess that it’s time the government gets involved. And not in a paltry, ball-less way (The insult that is Nancy Pelosi’s farm bill 2007 doesn’t even come close). We have got to start looking out for the living things that call America home.

  • Countries all of the world have animal rights acts in place; Chicago has outlawed foie gras; it’s time for America to step it up and develop comprehensive standards that absolutely must be met so that we can all sleep at night knowing that animals in this country are treated with respect.
  • Fresh produce and local agriculture needs to be made available in lower-income urban areas.
  • In my mind, corporate farming should be illegal. Just imagine how many jobs and how much healthy food would result from a country running on privately-owned and operated farms.
  • We’ve gotta quit importing so much meat and fish. We don’t realize how destructive our eating habits are when their sources are thousands of miles away (also: carbon gas emissions, anyone?)
  • No one in America should starve. There’s enough money in the world for every human being to have a million dollars. I know I’m sounding annoyingly idealistic, here… but no one in this country should be starving. That soup kitchens and food pantries across the country are strapped for resources is downright wrong.

In the meantime, I’m grateful people are buying the “cage-free” eggs. It’s a good way to start my Sunday. Next time, though I hope the New York Times steps it up a notch and gets their fingers dirty. It’s time to start reporting about animal cruelty — the parts about it no one wants to read. Because then, maybe, they’ll really pay attention.

sanity, vanity

11 08 2007

A recent surge of frustrating editorials and news stories in the Times on the Iraq War (“How a ‘Good War’ in Afghanistan Went Wrong;” “Democrats Say Leaving Iraq May Take Years;” “Getting Iraq Wrong“) suggest, erroneously of course, that the intentions behind the Iraq War were well-meaning, loosening the tight grip Progressives had recently gained around the neck of this downright-criminal administration.

Luckily, a brilliant and much-needed column from Katha Pollitt sets the record straight in this week’s issue of the Nation.

Ten Political Songs

9 08 2007

I posted a new page with my 10 favorite political songs of all time — and there are even MP3s and videos for most of them. Enjoy.