Travis Craw's blog

Screening Liberally Watch of the Day

The truth behind the decreased violence in Iraq. Twenty miles of concrete have turned Baghdad into "A City of Walls"

Daily Digest: Hug a Conservative.

1) The 2008 Election: Who would you rather Hug?

2)Tom Daschle says McCain ads are doing damage. Democrats want Obama to put on the boxing gloves.

3)GOP protesting because no one will come to their off-shore drilling party.

4)The secrets of the Chinese Olympic Rain Dance.

5) "Ringin' Wet & Wild Women's Wrestling" and a McCain speech! I have tickets to both!

6)Prizes for Politics, McCain will give you a hug if you post on his blog.

7) McCain to tell Ohio DHL workers, "Sorry I lost your jobs".

8)Organic regulations hurt local farms and aren't protecting us anyway.

The Race Card

Race CardThe McCain Campaign today uncovered the shocking and unexpected information That Barack Obama is in fact a black man. Senator John McCain discovered this after a comment Senator Obama made on Thursday that “Republicans would try to scare voters by pointing out he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

Further investigation revealed that the democratic presidential hopeful does not only look different, but is a different race than any other president in American history.

In response to the Senators comment, Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager has said that Mr. Obama has, "played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck." It appears that for many years the race card has been kept safely out of site at the bottom of the deck, and only through some cheap slight of hand has the Illinois senator been able to pull it out. Fears are mounting in the McCain camp that in addition to being a savvy statesman Mr. Obama might also be a skilled Magician.

Davis further said that Obama’s remarks are "divisive, negative, shameful and wrong." It is shocking that the Obama campaign is trying to inform the American People about the senator’s history of being a black man. We should be sticking to the issues and not side tracking with things as irrelevant to the American people as race.

Without these sort of card tricks and evasion, the American public might have never even noticed Barack Obama’s alleged Blackness. McCain on the other hand has been committed to an unbiased policy-based campaign, being himself entirely unaware that there are other races or that he him self has a race. Shame on you Mr. Obama and shame on all of those who might dare to call this a historic moment in American history.

Daily Digest: Join the Club

Rule 1) You will not eat fast food.

Rule 2) Everyone will be Tasered whether alive or not. (3 stories)

Rule 3) You do not talk about Fight Club.

Rule 4) Exxon Mobile will keep making record profits as Americans suffer from oil prices.

Rule 5) Israel will move the wall, and Prime Minister Olmert will announces his resignation.

Rule 6) Science fanatics must stop antagonizing Religious Fanatics

Rule 7) Iraq tours of duty will be 3 months shorter (says Bush).

Rule 8) The economy will keep growing, a little.

The Darkest Knight Before the Dawn

With all the Hype Hubbub and $450 million in worldwide sales, I can't help but wonder; is Osama Bin Laden allowed to see movies? My gut instinct says he can't, especially not the cinematic triumphs of the "Great Satan". But more to the point, I wonder if he is aware of the shifts that are taking place in American culture and the messages it is sending. Certainly George Bush must have taken a few hours out of his busy agenda to grab some popcorn and check out Gotham's Caped Crusader. How could he not with every reviewer linking the Bush administration to the Batman?

The question might then be, does he get it. Does George Bush feel the turning tides of the superhero genre, which emerged out of the American public clamoring for a world delineated into right and wrong, transforming into a complicated global awareness of cause and effect, sovereignty, pride, and hubris? Or does he simply salivate over the idea of complete SONAR surveillance of every citizen and the idea of an in flight pickup out of the top story of a Hong Kong Skyscraper.

Chances are everyone's favorite cowboy is more into gadgets and grenades than geo-political philosophy, but it seems that Hollywood is beginning to love both. There is no doubt that the media landscape has changed with the minds of Americans over the last 7 years.

As two wars rage on in the Middle East, people are starting to realize that American heroism (also known as colonialism) may be creating the very monsters that it is trying to fight. No doubt Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" is analogous to the situation we face with the Bush administration and its crusading in a nebulous War on Terror, but to call George Bush Batman is desperately short sided. If the emergence of Bruce Wayne's vigilantly alter ego is to be accredited to the emergence of the fanatical terrorist The Joker, we have to point out that Osama Bin Laden was bombing America long before George Bush was elected president in November 2000. We were bombing Saddam Hussain while Bush’s dad was in office, and funneling guns into Iraq to take down the Islamic Republic in the Iran-Iraq war under Regan.

In Christopher Nolan's first film in the series, Batman is told that the only way he can take on the corruption he sees, is to become more than a man. Henri Ducard tells him "If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, you become something else entirely… A legend". Batman is Neo-Liberalism driving its jet-black super-tank through the side of your building. In the first movie, multi-billionaire hero Bruce Wayne takes the law into his own hands after seeing the murder of his father, a man who worked to save Gotham on the back of the shiny silver commercialism of Wayne enterprises.

By the second movie we learn that the lawless fight for truth and justice in the name of citizens trying to make a good honest buck, has manifested into a criminal world of ever increasing violence. The mob ruthlessly defends its sovereignty from the crusades of an idealist who speaks of freedom while defending a still equally corrupt system.

Terrorism is bread when force rather than law is brought down upon the lawless, and in the end of the movie the fight for justice fails because the men of the law are still unwilling to purge them selves of the corruption in their own ranks. George Bush is only one more masked incarnation of the Neo-Liberal fanaticism, which feeds the madness of The Joker. The relatively sane corruption of the mob turns toward lunacy when confronted with the armored Batman. For us the legend which drives our enemies to extremes is an idea of a "The West" as the opposition, willing to root out both corruption and sovereignty with tanks. Where colonial Neo-Liberal policies have imposed them selves upon the Middle-East states, we have seen those people turn to fanaticism with increased vigilance.

Watching George Bush pack his suitcases at the end of this year will not be the same as watching Batman depart from Gotham. It is the idea of the masked avenger, which must take to the night, leaving us to respect the law even towards those we may disagree with.

Hanging upside down out of a building the joker tells us, "You just couldn't let me go could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object…I think you and I are destined to do this forever."

What is left to be seen is whether the release of the dark night is really a change in direction. Are people really looking to loose the Neo-Liberal ideals which have created Batman and the Joker? Or is Hollywood just responding to people looking out at a war they do not want and the heroic rhetoric of a commander and chief with an approval rating of 28%. Is public consciousness truly ready to turn towards the source of the issue?

I can only hope that viewers of The Dark Knight are perceiving an allegory a little more sophisticated than Bush Vs. Terror. Still with $450 million dollars and counting, the sequel seems to be an unstoppable force as well. I guess we will have to check back in with our favorite Dark Knight to see how we are doing in a couple of year.

College Should Be Free

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that college must be free. Being myself enrolled in a college where I watch my tuition rocket ever skyward each year, I to was taken aback by this idea. College should be free? What is this, some sort of wing-nut radical utopian pipe dream? Please people, this is not Scandinavia.

Then I realized that this idea is no more radical than the assertion in the 1850s that elementary school should be free to everyone, or half a century later when reformers said that high school should not only be a luxury for the rich. America has a long history of fighting for publicly funded schooling against many who wanted to keep it private.

With each new age of American society it became clear that publicly funded education was an absolute necessity. First elementary, then high school, and now a college education are an absolute must to function in the American economy. For young people entering the market today, wages have fallen in every category since 1970, for people who have schooling less than a BA. Even for most people with a BA wages have only slightly risen or remained the same as their 1970 levels. We young people will be the first generation to end up less well off then our parents’ generation. Today a college education is as much a necessity as is clean drinking water.

In every discussion of falling wages, outsourcing, and immigrant labor the conclusion always seems to be that America has to build a modern workforce prepared to take on the task of a modern economy. The only way for this to truly happen is for college to be free. Moving from a system of dept based financial aid back to providing federal academic grant is a good short-term solution, and decent first step. It is also true that our K-12 schooling systems are riddled with problems, that some might say need to be addressed first. But we cannot get bogged down in fighting for small change; we must set our sights higher than simply tackling imbecilic legislation like No Child Left Behind.

What this nation needs to succeed is a publicly funded Higher Education, anything short of that will not cut it in the long term. In the face of a faltering economy one might nervously ask where this sort of money will come from, but there is no better time. When there are not jobs to be had people go back to school, retrain, and restart. This is not to say that where should not be private universities, but if College is a necessity, it should not be something that you have to afford. We do not need to make college affordable, we need to make it available.

The Daily Digest: Drunk on Politics

1) Does John McCain know anything about Iraq? Trying to recover, he digs himself deeper.

2)Video games that kill real people.

3)Guess who is using up all our oil? The Pentagon.

4)Even truckers don't want more oil. When labor and Environment meet.

5)Multi-platinum rapper NAS gives Fox News a talking to. And Colbert too.

6)American Foriegn Service workers banned from Obama Rally.

7)Soldiers keep shooting democracies children. an Iraqi Governer's son is killed.

8)Better Democrats?

The Answer is Up

As I zoomed across I-80 this weekend in a single shot from New York to Chicago and back, my mind drifted back and forth across the countless miles of corn and my gas meter, as all that 4 dollar gas dripped away. The big question in my mind was how the heck we were going keep shipping all this corn all the way to New York and California, not to mention shipping banana in refrigerated cars all the way from South America. The answer is not bringing the food to Manhattan but bringing the farms.

Vertical Farms are the way of the future, or so says Dr. Dickson Despommier who has been working on vertical farming technology for 10 years now. Take 35 acres of farmland, stack then into a precisely regulated farming skyscraper, and you have yourself a Vertical Farm. In fact an acre of vertical farmland is predicted to have 4-6 times greater output than a boring old acre of flat land. This is a big deal with a population slated to increase 3 billion, 80% of whom will be living in urbanized areas, by 2050. With ever increasing transport and fuel costs for farming our farming practices must evolve vertically if we are going to stop millions from starving and full nations worth of natural ecosystems laid waste by flat and fat farms.

Many designs have been published for these towering greenhouses, which can protect plants from irregular weather, pests and pesticides, recycle water, transform methane to energy, and provide a source for urban food and jobs, while leaving our battered world to recuperate a little. Still the notion as a few ominous sci-fi elements with the website describing them as a prerequisite for moon colonization and asking, “Don't our harvestable plants deserve the same level of comfort and protection that [people] now enjoy?” This may be the great green hope for agriculture but it is also implies a huge condensing of our food source and the complete stewardship of people creating a new ecosystem. Futuristic and yet surprisingly obvious, this is the thinking that will reshape both urban and rural landscapes, and could make some real change, leaving carbon offsets and the inefficiency of ethanol in the dust.

Daily Digest: Always Delicious

1) Why expensive gas is great

2) Iraq to Afganistan. Obama has got the troops, McCain has got the dreams.

3) Study proves Barack Obama has not ended racism. That's weird.

4)Barack won't forget your birthday. How the Obama campaign knows everything.

5)Knowing your friends on the campaign trail and booting the rest.

6) John Stewart settles The New Yorker issue once and for all.

Blogging Liberally: Bob Dole

1)The Pro-Viagra Ticket. McCain can’t quite remember why he wants Viagra so bad.

2)As Obama casts his vote to silence the debate on FISA. Is centrism a slippery-slope?

3)SUV sales are down, but carbon ain’t out.

4)It’s cute, it’s cuddly, It is the shiny happy polling results of an Edwards-Obama ticket.

5)Give me Beer, or Give me death! $46 Billion proves brewing and civilization are one and the same.

6)Screw the nuclear program, who let Iran get a hold of power point?

7) Jesse Jackson had a couple things to say about Barack’s nethers

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