I went to the awards ceremony (looking at the list of honorees, even as an indirect winner, my sense of things was pretty much “what the hell am I doing here?”) last night, although since I wasn’t a named winner I wasn’t charged with the task of speaking in between Spike Lee, Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte. But Sam (flanked by 4 sharply dressed, corsage-appended colleagues) did a fine job. My feeling of being out of place did not really improve throughout the evening, although I was lucky enough to have chats with the brilliant journalist Rukmini Callimachi and (entirely in French) her Cameroonian boyfriend, as well as with Hendrik Hertzberg and a large number of other fascinating people. It was a surreal experience, but congratulations to Sam, Ann and my fellow bloggers for the honor.
It tells us little, obviously, that X percentage of Muslims in America can find “justification” for suicide bombings under unspecified conditions; it tells us quite a bit more, by contrast, that X percentage of Americans support arbitrary executive power, including indefinite detention and torture (about which our president sees fit to brag in public.)
So if we’re discussing the relationship between belief and action, there’s scarier shit than this. As Greenwald notes:
majorities of white Christians want to torture not merely actual terrorists, but they also want to torture “terrorist suspects” as well, i.e., a group that almost certainly includes perfectly innocent people.
And majorities of white Christians — Catholics, evangelicals and protestants — believe in torture not merely in the improbable-in-the-extreme “ticking time bomb” scenario; rather, they believe in torture as a matter of course (i.e., more than “rarely” — either “often or “sometimes”). (By stark and revealing contrast, “secularists” oppose torture in far greater numbers). Think about how depraved that is: what kind of religious individual affirmatively believes that people should be routinely tortured, including people who have never been proven to have done anything wrong?
And — to cite a recent poll that Greenwald doesn’t mention — what kind of soldier would “justify” torture and the mistreatment of civilians? Apparently quite a few. And given that the number of Americans who authorize, oversee, and rationalize the actual torture of actual human beings is greater — by roughly an infinite factor — than the number of Muslim Americans who have organized and carried out suicide attacks anywhere in the world, I’m quite comfortable saving my outrage for another day.
“…the larger change is that the very process Gore describes — of propaganda taken as fact, of slogans taken as arguments, of repetition substituting for logic and, yes, of lies and half-truths taken as truth — is now well-recognized. What worked against Gore during the recount and what worked for the administration in the run-up to the Iraq war doesn’t work anymore. That is an advance for democracy and for reason.”
I’ll have to assume Dionne has never read Media Matters, because this happens every single day. And its not just the typical right-wing hate radio and Fox News doing it.
CNN’s relentlessly dishonest coverage of the “oh-so-controversial” Speaker Pelosi’s trip to Syria looked like the RNC was producing segments of The Situation Room (complete with the “Talking With Terrorists” slogan on the screen). “The Most Trusted Name in News” also gets my “Media Douchebag of the Month” award for letting its fake “independent, straight-shooting, average Joe” spew blatantly misleading propaganda on Gore and global warming in his heavily promoted special earlier this May. CNN should really back off on Gore, because the NY Times obviously has dibs on Gore when it comes to making shit up to smear him (see Daily Howler archives).
Additionally, when a guest/pundit says, “timetable for surrender”, “if we leave they’ll follow us home”, and “the Democrats won’t fund our troops”, how often do you see an anchor/host step in and say, “uh…what do you mean by that, I don’t follow your logic?” (don’t hold your breath….that just wouldn’t be balanced, now would it? Just get them on the record, Timmeh)
I would at least agree with Dionne that things have improved dramatically since the media skull-fucking of Gore in 2000. We now have Media Matters and the rest of the blogosphere to quickly debunk this crap, but that doesn’t always mean that the media will be shamed into altering their coverage, which they still don’t for the most part right now (certainly not Chris Matthews, because its painfully obvious that he has no shame.)
At the very least, Media Matters has finally driven Bill O’Reilly clinically insane. Hopefully the Falafel King will be able to stay out of the loony bin so he can continue to explain to us how
Emmanuel Goldstein George Soros is to blame for everything wrong in Oceania America.
(cross posted at BlueGrassRoots)
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted 40 years ago today, a few hours before Langston Hughes died from complications following prostate cancer surgery. Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian, chose not to pursue a career in the ministry because he loathed television and wanted to create programming that could “be of nurture to those who watch and listen.” Unlike the bloated religious charlatans who would come to dominate American public life over the course of his career, Rogers infused his deep faith into his programming in a way that was subtle, nondenominational and sincerely attuned to the lives of children rather than the abusive political demands of adulthood.
One of Rogers’ more important interventions took place during a period of accelerated tension between the US and the Soviet Union. In a memorable series of episodes that aired in 1983, Rogers explored the perverse logic of the cold war arms race while also prefiguring the foreign policy disasters of a later decade. During that week’s programming, King Friday XIII suspected Cornflake S. Pecially (“Corney”) — a rocking-chair manufacturer in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe — of developing munitions for the Southwood community. In response, Friday orders Corney to supply him with similar parts. “If Southwood has a million [bombs],” Friday blustered, “we will have a million and one.”
As it turned out, Southwood was building a bridge. Things worked out OK in the Neighborhood, though not so much in real life.
At the conclusion of that week, the famous verse from Isaiah appeared on the screen after Fred Rogers wished his audience well:
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning forks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war any more.
Fred Rogers was also something of a B-Boy:
Jill Filipovic points us to this Times article about the new strategy to justify using state coercion to force women to carry pregnancies to term by claiming that women are too irrational to know what’s good for them, and offers a modest proposal. I would also urge you to read Reva Siegel and Sarah Blustain (see also here.) Quite simply, these justifications are premised on 19th-century conceptions of women as not being rational agents. And such justifications evidently underpin a great deal of anti-choice discourse and policy (most obviously seen in the fact that the official Republican position is that abortion is murder but women who obtain them should be entirely exempt from legal sanctions.) At least Kennedy was decent enough to give away the show, admitting that these assertions are backed by “no reliable data,” leaving us with meaningless claims that some women may regret their decision to obtain abortions in retrospect. (If some women regret getting married, can we ban that too? How about anecdotal evidence about women who become depressed after becoming mothers, does this justify state-mandated abortions?) These arguments aren’t about women’s health; they’re about assumptions that women are incapable of making moral judgments, period. That this view is not only part of our national discoruse but has been endorsed by five Supreme Court justices at this late date is dismaying.
[Also at TAPPED.]
Over at WhirledView, Cheryl Rofer asks a number of extremely important questions about the nature of threats to U.S. security. In particular, she asks them in the context of a broader discussion about U.S. nuclear strategy.
Cheryl’s interrogation is pointed: she addresses potential first use of weapons, the lumping of chemical and biological “weapons of mass destruction” with nuclear arms, the need for access to oil, potential targeting of Muslim holy sites, etc. Indeed, I would note that she goes well beyond the classic cold war question “How much is enough?”
Cheryl acknowledges, however, that the task is daunting:
I have far more questions than answers. A real threat assessment would require a team of people and months of work to collect the relevant information.
Cheryl points out that the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, which involved a huge team of people working for months to formulate US nuclear strategy, has been criticized by mainstream policy actors for failing to account for missions and threats. She references somewhat critical comments from both the Defense Science Board and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Cheryl and these other analysts are indirectly-but-accurately charging that the US nuclear force has a life of its own. It survives year-to-year and decade-to-decade largely because of policy momentum; bureaucratic inertia precludes meaningful critique. Its life is existential, not necessarily justified by any kind of rational purpose — such as specific threats to US security.
Needless to say, I view this as a horrible way to design public policy, let alone US national security and nuclear weapons policy.
In the best of all possible policy worlds, analysts would assess US interests and assets based in large part on a careful calculation of threats to those interests. Policy responses would be designed to achieve US goals at reasonable cost.
Here’s a key point Rofer does not address: threats posed by other nuclear weapons states, potential new proliferants, and even non-state actors, could conceivably be addressed by non-nuclear forces and even non-military policies. Given the security dilemma, it would also be a good idea to assess the way US nuclear posture might provoke new threats.
A “nuclear posture review” should be only a sub-part of a much larger enterprise. How can the US best address the threats to its security interests?
This is a cliché about the impressive size and capability of US military power, but I’ll repeat it anyway since I’ve heard people like Robert Kagan use it in front of audiences: “When you have a hammer, all problems start to look like nails.”
Hmm, I think I could almost forgive Duke Cunningham sitting around naked in a hot tub filled with polluted water. (Admittedly, this is easier from a distance.) But this is far beyond the pale of human decency:
One of these parties started at the Capital Grille with Cunningham ordering his usual filet mignon — very well done — with iceberg lettuce salad and White Oak. Wilkes used the dinner to update Cunningham on the appropriations he wanted. Cunningham then took the whole group back to the boat where they drank more wine, sitting on white leather sofas while Cunningham told more war stories. Cunningham then took his clothes off and invited all to join him in the polluted hot tub that was hidden from the neighbors by a white tarp. There were no takers.
Filet mignon well done? Hopefully this was brought up at the sentencing hearings; I believe federal guidelines require an extra three years for that.
…Great minds think alike. Well, this joke will still be original to the three readers of this site who don’t also read Atrios…
Hmm, I didn’t know that Salon founder David Talbot was a JFK conspiracy crank. According to Brinkley, his approach seems to be that JFK–like, er, every other president–had factions who did not benefit from his administration, one of them was probably responsible, but he doesn’t endorse any one theory because this would make it more easy to falsify. What I find especially annoying, however, are conspiracy theories that assume that a cautious, centrist president of unimpressive accomplishment was killed because he was some kind of dangerous radical, and this was a national tragedy because he found “some measure of greatness.” (Apparently the measure isn’t, say, consequential legislation passed under his tenure, idiotic wars not started, etc.) Really, can we please stop the Camelot mythologizing? Granting that he benefited from a halo effect, LBJ was also a more progressive and vastly more effective president. If the conspiracy that nobody can find evidence for killed JFK because he had “had made bitter enemies of conservative Southerners because of his embrace of the civil rights movement,” boy did they ever screw up.
Beverly Haywood of Juneau doesn’t approve:
It’s time to wrap up the comic strip “Sally Forth” and put her in the recycle bin.
I was appalled at Wednesday’s comic making light of Ted stealing a computer from his office. When the next comic didn’t go anywhere toward explaining that he didn’t mean it or that he was getting his comeuppance, that finished any interest I had in the strip. The comeuppance may show up in a few days, but with our short memories and occasional neglect of the comics page, it will be too little too late to do any good.
I haven’t liked “Sally Forth” for some time; it’s tiresome that she always, always gets the last word. When this feminist comic star first appeared in print, it was a delightful change. But that was then. It’s gone on too long and is too one-sided.
Please get rid of it and bring back “Arlo and Janice.” They have a very intelligent cat.
God, I love letters to the editor.
Shockingly enough, the “pro-life case for contraception” continues to fail dismally among actual pro-lifers, as the Missouri legislature (with the strong support of Missouri pro-life, natch) voted down restoring funding for contraception because “it would have amounted to an endorsement of promiscuous lifestyles.” Which will mean more unwanted pregnancies and–as a comparison of abortion rates in the United States with countries that permit both access to abortion and birth control will demonstrate–more abortions. But what matters is that somebody will be able send a message about how evil the banal sexual behavior of consenting adults that one doesn’t approve of is!
I often talk about the flagrant inconsistency of American “pro-life” groups. But, in fairness, they are perfectly consistent about one thing: if they have a choice between reducing abortion rates and regulating female sexuality, they’ll take the latter, as reliably as Carrot Top is unfunny. And to state the obvious, obstructing certain classes of women from obtaining abortions as part of a general campaign to say that single people having sex is icky is completely indefensible.
You know that we’re really living in bizarre times when a guy as foul as John Ashcroft becomes a pillar of virtue and ethics in government.
Its a travesty that impeachment preceedings on Gonzalez were not started the day after Comey’s testimony. One can only hope that McConnell is not successful in blocking the no confidence vote on the AG this week. Either way, I doubt he’s leaving until he gets thrown out on his ass.
And for those who feel that Bush or Cheney have not committed a specific crime that could be used and proven in an impeachment hearing, its painfully obvious that a felony was directly and deliberately committed by violating the FISA law. As Bush says, “we’re talking about a law that was made in 1978…its 2006!” Whether this is a politically viable option for Democrats later this year is up for debate, but its certainly a bad precedent to set for future generations where a President can deliberately violate the law and get away with it without a scratch.
At least the no blow job rule will be carried on…
(cross posted at BlueGrassRoots)
…in addition, the hypothetical impeachment drive would be increasingly difficult as Republicans pull out the “Democrats don’t want to spy on terrorists” card and frighten “moderate” Democrats. The MSM, i would assume, would fall right in line and repeat the talking point, as they did last year when this first became news.
In case he doesn’t expand this into a post, I think djw’s comment on the selling out thread deserves highlighting as similar to my final thoughts on the matter:
Jay B. wins the thread. It’s like this: capitalism does an awful lot of harm, and an awful lot of good. I’m going to lament those parts of capitalism that do real, serious harm to actual people. Helping artists make a living, while possibly harming a few of their sensitive middle class fan’s ability to aesthetically experience music on their own precise, demanding, and fairly incoherent terms, doesn’t really concern me in the slightest. My response to the line of reasoning Greg and others are pursuing here is akin to my response to those who complain bitterly about successful athletes drawing large salaries. I’m utterly baffled by it, and at a loss as to how to respond. In both cases it strikes me as a bizzare projection of purity (in it for the music/joy of the game) onto people you don’t know.
I think this is about right. The analogy with complaining about the salaries of athletes is in may ways apt, and indeed that the fact that so many people oppose players in labor disputes is indeed even more indefensible (context does alter the way we hear music, although I don’t understand the emphasis people place on its commercial use per se.) It’s not like the money paid to professional athletes would instead go to teachers or cancer researchers or sick kittens or something; the only question is whether the owners or the players keep it. People who romanticize the days in which players were paid at vastly below-market rates as a time when “things were a sport, not a business” or whatever are insane, and the sportswriters who reliably line up behind the owners in labor disputes are generally economic illiterates who fail to understand the basic underlying issues.