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The Morning Grumpy – 3/14/13

Filed under: Morning Grumpy

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy. Just links today.

Christopher-Hitchens1

1. Meet Scott Prouty, the man who essentially ended Mitt Romney’s Presidential hopes and dreams by releasing the infamous “47 Percent” video.

2. Last week, Graham Hill, noted founder of TreeHugger.com and popular TED speaker, published an Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled “Living With Less. A Lot Less.“. Many people have embraced his message of reducing consumption and living a simpler life. That annoying friend on Facebook who is always linking to haughty TED talks probably shared the article with you and told you it was a “must read“. But, let’s cut through this guy’s incredible cloud of smug.

For the past few days, one of the most popular stories on the New York Times website has been Graham Hill’s op-ed “Living With Less. A Lot Less.” In a majestic display of guileless narcissism, Hill, an Internet multimillionaire, congratulates himself for downsizing his life and getting rid of all the stuff—the homes and cars and gadgets and sectional sofas and $300 sunglasses—he accumulated over the past decade. Now he lives in a 420-square-foot studio and has only six dress shirts and “10 shallow bowls” that he uses “for salads and main dishes.” Imagine that. Eating off the same plate. Twice. In one meal.

There are too many phrases to mock (“Olga, an Andorran beauty”; “My space is small. My life is big.”), and the Internet has already done a great job pointing out how obnoxious it is for a multimillionaire to hold himself up as a model of moderation when so many Americans are being forcibly downsized from already cramped lives.

Americans are not going broke buying clothes, books, music, furniture, cars, appliances and other consumer goods. Rampant consumer spending is not the source of their increasingly precarious lives.

So where did the money go? Two words: education and healthcare. The share of the average household budget devoted to education grew by 22 percent between 1999 and 2010, for healthcare by almost 17 percent.

I hate condescending tree huggers.

3. Barack Obama promised transparency: The White House is as opaque, secretive, and hostile to open government as George Bush’s administration.

4. Eleven heinous lies that conservatives are teaching America’s schoolchildren.

5. The Militarization of Policing in America

Fact Of The Day: In the 1970s, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis I) hid some of the Argentine military dictatorship’s political prisoners from a human rights watch group. The military routinely executed political prisoners by throwing them from an airplane into a river and sold their orphaned kids.  But, at least this pope isn’t a former Nazi, so the church has that going for it, which is nice.

Quote Of The Day: “Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.” – Thomas Jefferson

Video Of The Day: “My Favorite Pal” – Mitch Fatel

Song Of The Day: “Under Cover of Darkness” – The Strokes

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

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Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com


  • I’m going to think for myself today because Chris Smith and Christopher Hitchens told me to think for myself.

  • On #2, I know we love 1) bashing down any public figure as soon as they poke their heads up, and 2) beating healthcare and educations drums, but respectfully to The Nation blogger, Hill’s article was not about Americans going broke. It was about our worship of stuff. Now I could make an argument that it is our rampant consumerism that’s making us go broke (expansionistic wars to get more oil to fuel our love of big cars and big suburban houses, an unsustainable lifestyle borrowing resources from our kids, climate change et al), but that’s not the point. The point is we could all do with a lot less and be better off for it. Smugness in defense of a point was never a problem for this column…

  • rhmaccallum

    On #2:  “Americans are not going broke…”.  If indeed you accept logic then you must accept that an ever expanding human population in a non-expanding planet with defined and limited resources can not continue to exist without those resources getting scarce, more and more precious.
    If you are capable of observation you will see that here in this country almost everyone, even the welfare poor live like kings.  Food to eat, clothes to wear and shelter from the storm are the essentials (read Thoreau’s “On Walden Pond”).  Everything else is gravy.  Cars, flat screen TV’s, cell phones, even Artvoice.
    We are, we have become selfish and spoiled in the extream.  200 years ago the kings and queens of Europe and the landed class here in America lived like paupers compared to us.  In the cold of the winter night they had to venture out to take a shit.

  • Jim_Holstun

    Christopher Hitchens on thinking for oneself? The drunken mouthpiece for Rumsfeld and Rice and (other people’s) blood for oil? Aieeee.

    The Guardian article corrects the unfounded comment about Bergoglio/Francis I hiding the Argentine fascist murderers–look at the end. It will be interesting to see what witnessing with the poor and persecuted he did during the Dirty War. JPII had the chutzpah to give a sermon in the square facing the church in which Archbishop Romero was assassinated without even mentioning him.

    Regarding Brian Castner’s point. G. A. Cohen once remarked that the enormous productive powers developed by capitalism could have been used to

    1. Give us all more free time to work creatively and be with our families and friends, or

    2. Produce more and more stuff for some of us to buy.

    The choice has been made.

    • I think this is what we know about the new pope: 1) he was the leader of the Jesuits during the Argentinian junta, 2) bad things happened then, 3) he may or may not have been silent about it, 4) in the 30 years since he has gone out of his way to live a simple life focused on the poor, 5) he picked the name of a saint dedicated to such. I’m willing to give the guy a chance to lead 1B people toward the last two bullets. The cynical guy (me) is choosing a bit of optimism over reflexive bashing (how long did it take after he was elected for Twitter to start the backlash – 5 min?)

    • rastamaniac

      http://media.hoover.org/sites/default/files/documents/uk_hitchens_iraq_transcript.pdf

      Peter Robinson:  Well, so what is your view of Maliki then?  Excuse me.  Here, let me 

      quote President Bush, August 22nd.  “Prime Minister Maliki is a good man with a 

      difficult job and I support him.”  Is the president correct to support him? 

       

       Christopher Hitchens:  Prime Minister Maliki is an unpolished thug who’s the leader 

      of a terrible clerical party called the Dawa Party which among other things, organized a 

      lynching of Saddam Hussein, a man who shouldn’t have been executed at all but should 

      have continued to stand on trial, should be on trial, still listening to ’til we’ve amassed all 

      of the record of his crimes.  In such a way deliberately to offend by doing it on the last 

      day of the Eid holiday.  The Sunni population of his country, he’s a sectarian thug. 

       

       Peter Robinson:  The sectarian thug of what? 

       

       Christopher Hitchens:  And I think he should be told if he wanted to be head of the 

      Dawa Party, that’s fine and we can’t stop you if you elected to do that.  But we’re not 

      spending any money to keep a person like you in an office. 

       

       Peter Robinson:  Really? 

       

      Christopher Hitchens:  Absolutely. 

       

       Peter Robinson:  So Bush is making a terrible mistake. 

       

       Christopher Hitchens:  A terrible mistake, yeah.  Sectarianism cannot be confidenced.  

      Religious sectarianism is the worst poison that can ever affect the society.  We are 

      helping to empower at the center even as we are, I will say, helping to defeat it on the 

      periphery.  This is a contradiction that can’t go on for very much longer.  I don’t believe 

      the president understands it for a second. 
       

      Funny he doesn’t sound drunk and he seems pretty clear on the real problems in Iraq and on George W’s complete failure to grasp any of the situation he’d stumbled into.  Rummy and Hitchens both happened to be guests of The Hoover Institution but I never heard Hitchens cheerlead for him or try to align himself with Bush.  Norah Ephron suggested Hitchens wrote his essay Why Women Aren’t Funny because he’d been stuck at an event listening to her act as MC and proving herslef deathly unfunny while trying to crack the wise. He wrote in God Is Not Great  “Religion poisons everything.” The comments above reflect his real passion in that war not any neo con fantasy of controlling the world’s oil. 

      • Crewel

        Well said!

  • UncleBluck

    You’re going to think for yourself today….and 1-1/2 B people are going to follow the orders of the latest chief storyteller, who will live like a king on other peoples money and will continue the failed policies of a large non for profit that continues to hide its criminal activities……..for as long as it can…..