Sunday, March 30, 2008

Analog or Digital--Whom to believe?

Here's a quote from the web site of The Los Angeles Times: "The Shiite Muslim cleric disavows armed members who attack Iraqi government institutions and party officers. He calls for the government to end what he calls random raids and to release all prisoners  By Alexandra Zavis and Saad Fakhrildeen, Special to The Times 10:10 AM PDT, March 30, 2008"

Note the time.

Here's a quote from the print edition of The Los Angeles Times  which appeared in driveways across Southern California around 6 a.m. on Sunday, March 30, 2008: "In an ominous sign Saturday, Sadr in a rare TV interview praised armed resistance. Separately, he urged his followers to defy Maliki's ultimatum to surrender their weapons."

Suppose, Dear Gentle Reader(s), that you're a member of the public who doesn't listen to NPR, which carried the story of Muqtada al-Sadr's sudden change of mind, or watch the Sunday talk shows.  You read of the continuing "armed resistance" of the Mahdi army.  Your day is not lightened. 

This sudden shift of the Muslim leader of the Mahdi army is an excellent example of how dangerous it is for anyone to reach a firm conclusion on just about anything in this world of ours.  Frank Rich excoriates Senator Clinton for not paying attention to "political perils of 20th-century analog arrogance in a digital age."  He could very well have expanded the dangers of not paying attention to "digital age" while relying on "analog" media to inform the American public.

These days, DGR(s), it takes much time and effort to

Trust, but verify!

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Hope? A consummation devoutly to be wished!

NPR has just announced that Moktada al-Sadr issued an order to his troops to lay down their arms and stop fighting the Iraqi government.

Doubtless, Dear Gentle Reader(s), there will be further comment and dissection of this news flash.  One thing for certain:  if the announcement is true and al-Sadr is powerful enough to  enforce it, this will be a good day for American troops in Iraq.


But trust and verify.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Muckroom Follies 3.26.08 More Infiltration!

Dear Gentle Reader(s), something is happening over at Townhalldotcom's Muckroom! There's been another infiltration of common sense! Hens will stop laying eggs; there'll be no more milk for the babes! Nature is turned in its head!

John Stossel has penned "Law Can't Prevent Underage Sex." (Really?!? says you. Then what...?)

Common sense seems to drive Stossel. Not so much the RWNSs he interviews for the column: " some ancient cultures, it would have been perfectly appropriate for young people to marry and start a family as soon as their bodies were biologically ready for reproduction. But we live in a very different culture, and young people today need more time before marriage, but they don't need sex before marriage."

Yes, but...

Here's Stossel's last thought, rational and sensible--a rarity in the Muckroom, albeit not quite so rare these days: Whatever the law says, there's no proof that age-of-consent laws deter sex before marriage. Many kids don't even know what the age of consent is.
Something is very wrong when young people, doing what hundreds of thousands of other kids do, are condemned for life on sex registries next to rapists and real pedophiles. There's no justice in that

Stossel's got the right idea about teen age sexuality and laws attempting to govern it. Now, if he would only look more closely at what's happened to the Republican Party over the past 20 years...

Trust, but verify.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Muckroom Follies 3.25.08 A Horseshoe Nail

Dear Gentle Reader(s), there must've been a pony at one time in the Townhalldotcom Muckroom; one has found another nail!

Cal Thomas has penned Typical for today's Muckroom. In it Thomas addresses race and makes an interesting case. He, of course, is spurred by Senator Obama's recent speech, and he seems to second the senator's basic premise: This accusatory back and forth between races will continue beyond the current election unless all of us stop replaying past grievances. One can criticize some of what Obama said (and I have), but his appeal to lay the past to rest and move on to a better future is compelling and worth discussing. The piece is well worth reading.

(It must be said, DGR(s), that Thomas' claim to be "typical" is a bit much. He moves in a rather rarefied world. His point that he is "prudent," however, rings true. Most adults will cross the street if nearing an encounter with any thuggish looking group of young males!)

Trust, indeed, but verify!

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Monday, March 24, 2008


Jonathan Alter on "Countdown" this evening had a questionable moment or two on this evening's broadcast. He said that Senator Clinton had, in effect, exaggerated her role in the Kosovo peace talks during the tenure of President Clinton.

Really? Perhaps Mr. Alter should re-read Paradise Lost, Dear Gentle Readers), and the part about "they also serve who stand and wait." Can the importance of a finely tuned dinner, or the setting of a conference dealing with war and peace, be denigrated? The comfort of the delegates' physical needs is to be dismissed?

Foolishly blinkered viewpoint is the hallmark of a person with limited vision. Perhaps Mr. Alter, and Mr. Olberman, who offered no resistance to Alter's remarks, should re-think the comments. While Mrs. Clinton might not have had "clearance," it is incomprehensible to think that a person with the experience in Washington politics which Mr. Alter has would think that she had no input. Or that her work as a help meet was inconsequential.

Trust, but verify.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Buckley v Vidal: The last word?

Of course, Dear Gentle Reader(s), it was to be expected that Gore Vidal would eventually find a conduit for his own "obituary" of William F Buckley, Jr., and it is via Truthdig, an award-winning blog edited by Robert Scheer. It's an amusing column, as are nearly all of Vidal's efforts.

Admired quote: Buckley was a world-class American liar on the far right who would tell any lie he thought he could get away with. Years of ass-kissing famous people in the press and elsewhere had given him, he felt, a sort of license to libelously slander those hated liberals who, from time to time, smoked him out as I did in Chicago, when I defended the young people in Grant Park by denying that they were Nazis and that the only “pro- or crypto-Nazi” I could think of was himself.

How could one, DGR(s), not admire such audacity? It is to be hoped that someone will send Andrew Sullivan, an admirer of Buckley's who should know better, a link to this post.

Buckley admirers, trust, but verify.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Muckroom Follies 3.13.08 Historical Accuracy?

Over at the Muckroom, one William Rusher offers another paean to William F. Buckiley, Jr., and the mid-20th century rise of "conservatism."

That's OK. One expects, Dear Gentle Reader(s), that such would appear upon the occasion of the passing of Buckley and that such will continue for some time. After all, given the current public regard for the conservative movement as exemplified by the Bush administration, they're going to resurrect whatever shining moments they can for as long as they need.

One wonders, though, why they don't include President Lyndon Johnson as a major player in the rise of conservatism. After all, Mr. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which, according to some, gave the conservatives the opportunity to capitalize on the festering social unrest of the day: America was a segregated country when LBJ came to power. It wasn't when he left. From his very first hours in office, he would move to combat it on a broad front. But he also knew not an inch would be won cheaply. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is to many of us a watershed in American history. It was one of the most exhilarating triumphs of the Johnson years. Yet, late on the night of signing the bill, I found the President in a melancholy mood. I asked what was troubling him. "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come," he said. Even as his own popularity soared in that heady year, the President saw the gathering storm of a backlash.

Senator Goldwater's "Southern Strategy" enabled the Republican party to gain a foothold in the South, and the rest is, as they say, history.

Buckley's intellectual foundation making aside, the conservatives of 2008 would not have been so successful without the progressive vision and determination to do the right thing of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Don't, though, expect too many conservative water carriers to acknowledge LBJ's contribution. They're ashamed of what it made them do.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

The Grey Lady's Step to Redemption 2

The New York Times has taken another step in redeeming itself for its decision to hire William Kristol for its op-ed page. Today it published an editorial, "What’s on TV Tonight? Humiliation to the Point of Suicide."

The editorial points out that the NBC television show, "To Catch a Predator," has little socially redeeming value. It sets up a sting and then invites local law enforcement officers to stage a raid which it records and then airs on network television. A 2006 raid resulted in a coup for the camera crew, the object of the sting "took out a handgun and shot himself to death," which prompted an officer on the scene to comment, reportedly, "That’ll make good TV."

Nice, eh wot, Dear Gentle Reader(s)? By the way, it did make TV, albeit in a truncated form. It also "made" the basis for a $100 million lawsuit against NBC.

The Times comments about this aspect of "reality" shows: “To Catch a Predator” is part of an ever-growing lineup of shows that calculatingly appeal to their audience’s worst instincts. The common theme is indulging the audience’s voyeuristic pleasure at someone else’s humiliation, and the nastiness of the put-down has become the whole point of the shows."

The truth of this is that these shows do not elevate nor do they elucidate. They do exhibit a clear example of the reprehensible in human behavior, on both sides of the issue. The Times opines, "The producers of “To Catch a Predator”...appear to be on the verge — if not over it — of becoming brown shirts with television cameras. If you are going into the business of storming people’s homes and humiliating them to the point of suicide, you should be sure to have some good lawyers on retainer."

The lawsuit continues.

So do, alas, the television shows.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Muckroom Follies 3.06.08 Another Pearl!

Who, Dear Gentle Reader(s), would've thought it possible? Over at the Townhall muckroom, another voice of reason has emerged!

Hie thee, then, over to Steve Chapman's "McCain's Consistent Folly on Iraq," where you will find a litany of Senator McCain's errors about the Iraqi situation.

Chapman ends his piece with this: McCain says the current "strategy is succeeding in Iraq."His apparent definition of success is that American forces will stay on in huge numbers as long as necessary to keep violence within acceptable limits. We were told we had to increase our numbers so we could leave. Turns out we had to increase our numbers so we could stay.
Five years after the Iraq invasion, we've suffered more than 30,000 dead and wounded troops, incurred trillions in costs and found that Iraqis are unwilling to overcome their most basic divisions. And no end is in sight. If you're grateful for that, thank John McCain

Prior to that finale, Chapman recites the Republican nominee's flips with regards to the president's war policies.

Thank, also, Mr.Chapman. Why should we give another blinkered Republican the power to keep us in Iraq?

Trust, but verify.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Bill and Andrew; Babe and Truman

Did Andrew Sullivan miss an idea or two about WF Buckley's attitudes towards gays, and, thus, WFB's basic attitude about Andrew, specifically?

Already, Dear Gentle Reader(s), we have explored a specific instance, available in Andrew's own blog, wherein Buckley dismissed the possibility of equality between a non-gay marriage and a gay marriage--Buckley's position is more general, but the marriage issue is within the "penumbra."

Just a little bit of Googling "William F. Buckley Anti-Semite?" leads to a very interesting web site for in which one Tim Fernholz reminds us of the writings of Buckley in which Buckley flirted with anti-semitism ("[Buckley] found that conservative politician Pat Buchanan had said “things about Jews” that were anti-Semitic, but excused it as “[t]he iconoclastic daemon having a night out on the town.”); racism (“The central question… is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes…. National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct…” In other words National Review opposed civil rights legislation. Buckley later characterized that stance regretfully, saying, “I think that the impact of that bill should have been welcomed by us.” [Remember that the Republican Party made good use of racial politics in its rise to prominence in the South.]); and homophobia ([Buckley, in the late 1960s] “the man who in his essays proclaims the normalcy of his affliction [i.e., homosexuality], and in his art the desirability of it, is not to be confused with the man who bears his sorrow quietly. The addict is to be pitied and even respected, not the pusher.”)

Sullivan has been quick to point out that Buckley did manage to change his mind on some important issues "So the most influential conservative of his generation endorsed both the Vietnam and the 2003 Iraq wars, and came to regret doing both." Nowhere, however, does Sullivan indicate that Buckley ever changed his mind about Sullivan's sexual orientation, or his recent marriage in Massachusetts.

Buckley is often described as "patrician." Doubtless he was that; he certainly behaved with the sense of entitlement which inflicts so many who are conscious of their upper class status.

One is mindful of the relationship between the Babe Paley crowd and Truman Capote. As long as he was a metaphorical lap dog, entertaining, and non-threatening, Tru was invited. When he showed the first sign of independence, he was no longer tolerated.

Buckley never gave indication, so far as his current references show, that gays were little more than his own metaphorical lap dogs. He nurtured those whom he found in his company; but then, he never admitted his error about their lives being mere addictions or they, themselves, being pushers.

Surely Sullivan doesn't think his core being makes him an addict, or that his well argued positions on equality for non-gays and gays alike make him a pusher, and Sullivan in no way ever writes about his core "sorrow."

Sullivan is a hero, albeit flawed, to this blog; Sullivan's own hero is far more flawed. Would he could see it.

Trust, Andrew, and mourn, but verify.

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