Barack Obama? Really?

So, Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, and everyone who argued that it isn’t political can just shut up. I mean really – giving the Peace Prize to a President who hasn’t even been sitting a year? What has he done so far? Plus, they had to nominate him by Feb. 1st. That was only two weeks in to his presidency. What actual reasons did they have for his nomination, much less the award, besides that they like him?

This is stupid.

You should check out the summary at Foreign Policy. It’s pretty funny! Here’s an excerpt:

This is the most aspirational Nobel Prize in the history of an award that was about the politics of hope long before the president. In fact, the citation of the Nobel Committee indicates that this is the first time in the history of this nutty award that a recipient has been chosen almost solely based on what the grey eminences in Oslo hope he will do at some point ahead. They wrote: “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future.”

Ah, now I get it, it’s become the Nobel Hope Prize.

…It’s as if a freshman tailback were handed the Heisman Trophy as he ran onto the playing field along with a hearty pat on the back and the explanation that he’d been selected to encourage him to have a great year to come.

Shooting on Edgewood Dr

Well, I found out what happened last night in my neighborhood. I was coming home from AU and noticed several police cars heading the way I was going. When I went to turn on to Edgewood Dr (from which I turn on to my street), it was blocked off with crime scene tape and there were a bunch of police cars parked, with more arriving every minute. There was also a helicopter circling the area with a spotlight. I figured someone had been shot, and that the shooter(s) had fled and the helicopter was trying to find them.

Turns out, I was right. As Fox DC reports, two masked gunmen shot at some security guards at the aparment complex on Edgewood.  They missed the guards, but they shot a 17-year-old girl in the head. She was taken to the hospital in critical condition, and the suspects got away.

The fact that it happened so close to me makes me a little uncomfortable. Along with the fact that it happened at 8:20, which is about when I would have been driving by if I hadn’t gotten dinner after class. And the fact the the girl was just a bystander makes me angry. I hope she makes it.

Roman Polanski

(Warning: this is a sad and angry post, not a fun and happy one.)

As most of you know, Roman Polanski was apprehended last week in Switzerland, and the US and Switzerland are currently working things out to extradite him to the US so he can serve the time he owes for both raping a child and skipping out before sentencing. This is good, right? Uncontroversial, right? Child rapists and runners should feel justice, right?

Apparently it’s not so clear as all that. Over the last week or so I have been absolutely appalled at how many people have spoken out to defend Polanski. It is shameful to live in a world where the rape of a child can be seen as a gray area. Some are saying it wasn’t “rape-rape” (Whoopi Goldberg), but that makes me afraid. Here’s why – there are three different and sufficient ways in which the act was rape. Three. Let me break them down for you:

1. The girl was drunk and drugged (from champagne and drugs Polanski gave her) and so could not have consented, even if the next two were not also true.

2. The girl was 13 years old. Three years under the age of consent in CA at the time, and five years under the age of consent now. She was thirteen, and so could not consent.

3. She said no. She said no repeatedly, pleadingly, and fearfully. She said no, so she explicitly did not consent.

There is no gray area here. And the French presses (and public?) are withdrawing their support of Polanski now that it has become clear that it was not just a consensual act that prudish Americans criminalized (which leads to the question of why they in France think a 43 year old having “consensual” sex with a 13 year old is no biggie, but anyway). In fact, if you were to try and create a scenario where the rape apologists who say things like “She asked for it!” and “She probably just regretted it the morning after” – if you tried to create a scenario where even they would admit “Yeah, that was definitely rape, no question!” you’d probably create one like this. The layers of non-consent are so thick, you’d think they’d make the issue very clear.

But no. To Hollywood, what’s more important it that Polanski is one of them. He makes great films! He’s an artiste! Read Melissa McEwan’s fantastic piece On Polanski for a brilliant take-down of this argument. Here’s a taste:

They make an exception for Polanski for the same reason exceptions have been for other famous, artistic men…: Because geniuses get special dispensation.

Because there’s only one Roman Polanski.

So goes the breathless defense of the artiste, while the flipside of that particular coin, because thirteen-year-old girls are a dime a dozen, goes unspoken.

One of my other favorite writers, Kate Harding, wrote a similarly fantastic piece for titled, simply enough, Reminder: Roman Polanski Raped a Child. It’s great. She exposes the arguments that say that Polanski has suffered enough for the ridiculous apologism they are. Did you know that people are saying that because Polanski’s wife was murdered by Manson we shouldn’t arrest him? As a commenter on Shakesville put it, you don’t get a “rape one child free” card if your wife is murdered! Or that his parents died in Auschwitz, so hasn’t he suffered enough? As if unspeakable tragedy in your life gives you free reign to victimize others! But even they don’t stoop so low as those (Anne Applebaum, I’m looking at you!) who claim that hes suffered enough already because he couldn’t pick up his Oscar in person!

I feel like the world has lost its mind, and all my worst fears about it have been confirmed. But then I learned that Harding’s piec has received hundreds of thousands of hits and re-tweets and links, and she’s been flooded with appreciative emails, and I think:

Maybe not the world. Maybe there’s still hope.

Explosion Update


Not an explosion in DC set off by Canada

Look what I just read! Canada has decided not to set off any fake explosions on my birthday! I like to think that the embassy stumled upon my blog post and thought “She has a good point. Maybe we should reconsider.” But more likely, they got some letters and phone calls or ran out of money or something. According to DCist we’ll find out the exact reason on Monday. But still, I’m pretty pleased they changed their minds, for whatever reason.

Somehow, this is turning into a Metro blog…

So, probably most of you know about the 9/12 protests that happened in DC last weekend. I went down to check it out for Mom, and to send her a picture. There were a bunch of people, maybe even 70,000. That’s a lot of extra riders on the Metro!

Apparently, the tea partiers aren’t pleased with Metro’s level of service. They complained that it was too crowded, Metro should have prepared better, etc. “They have a point,” I can hear you thinking. “70,000 extra riders on a weekend – Metro should have prepared for that!”

But, you’d be wrong. For one thing, the event organizers only predicted 15-25,000 people, which would not have warranted additional rail service. And in addition, if they wanted early station openings, the organizers would have had to pay for it out of pocket anyway (like the Marine Corps Marathon does, for example).

AND, irony of ironies, what are they protesting? Government spending! What are they cranky about? A government-funded transportation system is inadequate! Would they be in favor of increasing the funding to resolve the inadequacies? No way! Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) wrote a letter to Catoe complaining about the inconvenience. He says that protesters “were frustrated and disappointed that our nation’s capitol” failed to “provide a basic level of transit for them.” Gee, Brady, where was this concern about Metro’s ability to provide a “basic level of transit” when you decided to vote against increasing its federal funding.

The PlumLine sums it up best:

[I]t’s a real head-spinner to bash a government-run system for failing to adequately serve an enormous anti-government protest after opposing government funding for it.

But Prince of Petworth commenter Jimmy D also has a good point:

[This] congressman, from Southwest Texas, unfamiliar with the metro system, and who has no vested interest in how this city works for the people that live and work here, has more say over its policies than the actual DC residents.

That’s why we need actual representation!

P.S. – I don’t know if you can tell by the number of links to different places reporting this story, but it’s kind of a big hit in DC right now. It combines three great loves of DC residents – making fun of tourists, discussing the Metro, and making fun of tourists riding the Metro!

Canada’s going to do WHAT?!

So, Canada wants to put on a really cool event, to show the visitors at a military conference held at their embassy how awesome they are. Obvs, the best way to do this is to set up a pretend Afghan village, right? Definitely! They’re going to have a pretend marketplace with pretend Afghans pretend shopping, and then, when the Canadian soldiers and US Marines come to pretend meet the pretend village leader, there’s going to be super-realistic (but ultimately pretend) IED explosions! Awesome and totally unproblematic, right? I mean, it’s not like having realistic explosion scenes in the middle of a busy city that’s only blocks away from the Capitol is going to cause some distress among the citizens who aren’t cool enough to be invited to the super-sweet pretend village! It’s not like that’s something that might actually happen since we live in a city with a huge concentration of political targets! Ha ha…?

Seriously, on my birthday, too. 😦 I’m really disappointed in how little effort the Canadian embassy has been putting into warning the citizens of DC. I heard about this through a DC blog I read, but they read about it in a Canadian newspaper. That paper says that there will be at least four explosions over two days. The whole thing is an effort to make more Americans aware of “how great the Canadian commitment is,” according to some Col. Martin.

Okay, this keeps getting better. The village is being constructed and run by Lockheed-Martin, and the explosions are being provided by Strategic Operations, Inc, “a California company that claims to bring the ‘magic of Hollywood’ to hyper-realistic training.” Lord knows, training for war needs as much magic as possible!

Also, the highlight is supposedly going to be that one of the pretend Afghans is going to be injured, and then a heroic Canadian medic is going to immediately offer first aid. Way to go Canada! You’re so tough!

Gah, this just seems so incredibly rude to me. The Canadians are angry at us Americans for not realizing how awesome they are, so they’ll show us! They’ll terrify us all by bringing to mind the visceral fear and panic experienced by millions on the day America was attacked by people bent on causing our destruction and bringing it all flooding back, without warning us that it’s not real, that it’s only a pretend, because they want us to know that war is serious and they are serious, too. We deserve it for not recognizing their incredible comittments, or something. Why else do little to nothing to alert citizens of DC, if not to raise the chances that ordinary citizens will think it’s real? This is Not. Cool. Canada.

Metro – unfathomably incompetent, or just apathetic?

The big news in the DC universe right now is the closing of three Metro stations over this holiday weekend – including Reagan National Airport! The problem is not only that WMATA (Washington Metro Area Transit Authority) decided that Labor Day weekend was a great time to close three major stops, but that they gave about two week’s notice. This, on top of several other disasters (the horrible red line crash, a Metrobus hitting a joggera recent suicide, and a couple accidents) have made Metro pretty unpopular. Just search #metrofail on Twitter, and you’ll see what I mean.

The tone-deafness of GM John Catoe’s response to frustration has also been a source of annoyance. When people complained to him about the short notice, he responded with “I’m sorry that the congressmen were not aware that we sent this notification a month ago.” The press release he was referring to mentioned “major track maintenance rehabilitation program during the three-day Labor Day holiday weekend,” but did not say any stations would be closed altogether, or mention specific stations at all. Not to mention the fact that a month is hardly reasonable notice to close an airport station during a holiday!

Oh Metro, when I was here in 2007 I thought you were a dream come true. But now I know better…