Category Archives: Media

If things were reversed, would Katrina have been Bush’s Gulf oil spill?

As I see it, and I am interested in hearing other’s takes, the answer is a clear “no.” If Bush had succeeded Obama, instead of the other way around, and Katrina had occurred after the oil spill, there is simply no way that we would be screaming at Bush to stop the hurricane.

Because that is essentially what we want Obama to do. We want Obama to raise his staff and stop the damn hurricane. Perhaps we have forgotten that the tragedy of governmental incompetence during Katrina was not related to the government’s inability to halt a natural disaster, something we clearly should not expect of our elected officials, but rather to their total inability to handle the clean-up, the humanitarian crisis, etc. With the oil spill not yet plugged, Obama’s part in this hasn’t even really started yet.

And that’s the problem. It is literally unfathomable to a very large part of the country, many of whom are generally quite cynical, that a company of the size and stature of BP could a) have allowed this to happen in the first place thanks to total negligence, or b) that they could begin such a risky undertaking without having a legitimate plan for how to stop a leak if one started. Clearly corporations lie, cheat, and steal, but those are the banks on Wall Street, not the big companies that provide thousands of jobs across the country. Thus, though it is undoubtedly a tragedy caused by BP (but perhaps not one that is their fault, per se), it is clearly the government’s fault that this is happening. For some reason. Bottom line: these companies are perfectly capable of regulating themselves, thank you very much, but the fact that the government regulations I didn’t want didn’t keep this from happening is just appalling. You need to do more (do less)!

And Obama’s inability to figure out how to stop an oil spill (something which his law degree clearly qualifies him to do) is more proof that he is a presidential failure. That, plus the failure to pass healthcare reform, a jobs bill, a stimulus package, financial reform, etc. Oh, wait…

(You can hate his policies and pray for repeal, but recognize a winner when you see one. This is the approach I’ve had to take with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers…In fact, in many ways Obama is to the presidency what Bryant is to pro basketball. Even when Bryant, who I admittedly dislike in a surprisingly visceral way, scores 40 points and puts on an absurd performance, everybody derides it as selfish playing and any other number of negative descriptions. One has to wonder, were Kobe to have a personality transplant and finally look like he actually wants to be on the court and isn’t, in fact, looking to strangle his own teammates, would we all revere him as a virtual god instead of somebody who is unfortunately fantastic?)

Leave a comment

Filed under Congress, Media, Politics, Television, White House

The Flotilla and Helen Thomas

I have more to say about the Israeli flotilla debacle than can be written in a mere blog post. Suffice it, I am of the belief that Israel would be best served by ending the blockade, but recognize that this is an incredibly important issue on which both sides have truly valid and compelling points. I also believe that Israel had every right to board the Mavi Marmara under international law (San Remo) in order to maintain an internationally sanctioned blockade. Now, if the issue is that the international community now believes that blockades are an inevitable means of collective punishment that should not be a legal tool of war, then that is something that the international community should address, but to act like this blockade was a rogue move by a crazy nation is frankly factually disingenuous.

Israel has spent the last 20 years learning how to rule, and it is now past time to learn how to govern, but let’s be perfectly clear: Turkey’s absurd behavior (which really has much more to do with global positioning than it ever had to do with Israel), the apparent sudden incompetencies of the Israeli navy, and the deaths of the activists that all contributed to this event can be decried (and they should be!) while simultaneously supporting both Israel and its right to keep its citizens safe and an end to the Gaza blockade and better, legitimate lives for its citizens. Free Gaza does not have a monopoly on this idea by a long shot, though many of the rest of us are not especially supportive (understatement of the year) of Gaza’s incredibly repressive government, also known as Hamas. But then, there are very few repressive governments I support when their people are the ones who are suffering…

On the other hand, liberals who rally to the pro-Palestinian side need to be careful about the way in which they talk about Israel. Not the “Israel is an apartheid state,” “Israelis are Nazis,” etc crap, but this sense that often comes across that they perceive Israel as something temporary and experimental and thus able to be dismantled if necessary. Let me be perfectly clear, Israel is not going anywhere. Period. It’s kind of like how the LGBT community says “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” Israel is a sovereign nation with nuclear weapons, not the Tea Party…

Of course, this is an incredibly contentious and emotional issue on both sides, and a brief comment does not even count as scratching the surface. In fact, it is so emotional that the Israeli-Palestinian issue makes some liberals look like Deep South Republicans of the 1950s-60s. No, really:

Apparently this is how Helen Thomas chose to help celebrate Jewish Heritage Week at the White House. In some ways, I’m still so shocked that anybody would say this (and on camera!) that I have yet to decide how I personally believe this should be responded to. Should Thomas  be fired? Moved to the back of the room? In the same way that elephant ivory from Africa is now essentially valueless thanks to its enforced illegality and the lack of any kind of even underground market, so too had I imagined blatantly racist or anti-semitic comments by members of the press now existed. Or at least when it came to highly respected members of the press.

Clearly, I was wrong.

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Politics, White House

Sex, Lies, & Videotape: Today’s Political Headlines

The two big scandal stories of the day, and let’s be clear, this is not an otherwise slow news day with the much-touted primaries, deal with lying about military service and adultery. Not too shabby. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut AG and Democratic senatorial candidate, was outed by an NYT article for saying that he served in Vietnam, when, in fact, he never left U.S. soil. On the Republican side of the aisle, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) is stepping down from office after admitting that he had an affair with a female employee.

Souder and his lady friend even made a great sex tape!

The Blumenthal revelation is bad, no question, but he may survive, and in no small part thanks to the fact that while his story will undoubtedly garner a slew of media attention, it’ll be only half as much as it might have been thanks to Rep. Souder. Did Democrats pay him to resign today? It’s way too fortuitous for a party that seems to get political timing wrong with an accuracy that verges on the statistically improbable.

The fact that Souder had an affair neither shocks nor bothers me. I understand, though, that most expect and certainly prefer their elected leaders to actually practice what they preach (in this case quite literally). However, what does bother me in this case is the nature of Souder’s apology and resignation. Rather than simply saying, “I screwed up. I’m sorry,” Souder lamented to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, “It is a nightmare…Can’t believe it is happening.”

Really? You can’t believe it’s happening? It was you having the affair…right?

What is really unbelievable is the degree to which Rep. Souder’s statement makes it sound like his house was hit by the adultery natural disaster. Perhaps it was a sex volcano eruption, or a sex tsunami, or even a sex avalanche. Frankly, I don’t doubt that he’s repentant. There’s no question in my mind that he definitely regrets having the affair, and that he also regrets having to come clean about it, but the “nighmare” that Souder is dealing with is basically his own inability to actually follow the moral codes he claims to base his life upon. Souder is not Job. This is his fault.

Leave a comment

Filed under Congress, Media, Politics, Television

Goldman Sachs and the politics of financial reform

Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep so I ended up mulling over the fraud case against Goldman Sachs (GS) for about 3 hours. Here’s my (totally uneducated) take:

Bottom line, this case against GS is not a gamble by the government. The administration wants financial reform much more than they want to “get” GS, but because midterm elections are around the corner and Democrats are already expected to lose a fair number of Congressional seats, the administration really can’t afford to have Republicans running around telling people that financial reform is Maoism in disguise (or in the best interest of the banks…with the Republicans still auditioning opposition strategies, it’s like amateur hour on the Hill). So. What is to be done? How do you pass real financial reform in this political climate without more than a mock brawl? Apparently if you’re particularly savvy, you bring a charge against the most loathed bank on Wall Street based on a disclosure issue that may not actually be technically illegal, but that very clearly sounds like something that should be. The ambiguity of the law is the SEC/administration’s ace in the hole. Either GS settles or loses and financial reform happens because the issue is very clearly illustrated for the public by one great example, or GS wins and financial reform happens because the entire country is incensed that whatever GS did isn’t illegal. Either way, financial reform passes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Congress, Election 2010, Media, Politics, White House

Jon Stewart on Health Care Reform- Pt. 2 (With “M.D.” John Hodgman)

Every American becomes a congressman and sick people move to a leper resort — all paid for by your kidneys.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Jon Stewart on Health Care Reform- Pt…“, posted with vodpod

Leave a comment

Filed under Congress, Health Care, Media, Politics, Television

Jon Stewart Discusses Health Care Reform- Pt. 1

Republican scare tactics filter into the real debate on health care reform, taking their toll on President Obama’s sales pitch.

HILARIOUS!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Jon Stewart Discusses Health Care Ref…“, posted with vodpod

1 Comment

Filed under Birthers, Congress, Health Care, Media, Politics, Television, White House

Conservatives Have Fought Right-Wing Conspiracies Before: William F. Buckley, Jr. and The John Birch Society.

This is an interesting excerpt from a March 2008 article written by William F. Buckley, Jr. for Commentary Magazine. In it, Buckley discusses a strategy meeting he attended in early 1962 with a couple of other Conservative strategists and Senator Barry Goldwater. The main topic? How to deal with Robert Welch and the John Birch Society. The entire piece is absolutely worth reading (I’ve linked to it above), but I have chosen a specific excerpt in light of today’s article in The Daily Beast entitled Too Hot for Fox News:

 

Time was given to the John Birch Society lasting through lunch, and the subject came up again the next morning. We resolved that conservative leaders should do something about the John Birch Society. An allocation of responsibilities crystallized.

Goldwater would seek out an opportunity to dissociate himself from the “findings” of the Society’s leader, without, however, casting any aspersions on the Society itself. I, in National Review and in my other writing, would continue to expose Welch and his thinking to scorn and derision. “You know how to do that,” said Jay Hall.

I volunteered to go further. Unless Welch himself disowned his operative fallacy, National Review would oppose any support for the society.

“How would you define the Birch fallacy?” Jay Hall asked.

“The fallacy,” I said, “is the assumption that you can infer subjective intention from objective consequence: we lost China to the Communists, therefore the President of the United States and the Secretary of State wished China to go to the Communists.”

(*Among many other controversial comments over the years, Robert Welch circulated a letter calling President Dwight D. Eisenhower a “conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy.”)

“I like that,” Goldwater said.

What would Russell Kirk do? He was straightforward. “Me? I’ll just say, if anybody gets around to asking me, that the guy is loony and should be put away.”

“Put away in Alaska?” I asked, mock-seriously. The wisecrack traced to Robert Welch’s expressed conviction, a year or so earlier, that the state of Alaska was being prepared to house anyone who doubted his doctrine that fluoridated water was a Communist-backed plot to weaken the minds of the American public.

 

The idea behind the term “Birch Fallacy” applies to so much of our contemporary political discourse; the very reasoning continues to be used often. It really is quite an ingenious and concise term for describing a means of attempting to make logical what is inherently illogical in the face of rationality. I thus propose that the “Birch Fallacy” should hold a greater place in our contemporary political lexicon. 

Also, apparently even in the 1960s Alaska was a little crazy.

1 Comment

Filed under Birthers, Deathers, Media, Politics