Friday, May 29, 2009

9-11 Wasn't Funny

Los Angeles has some amazing graffiti.  Some of it's really beautiful and some of it not so great.  My significant other and I found this outside of a television studio on Vine in Hollywood.  Suggestion to TV folks: hire a street writer to paint over this piece of crap.  No one, aside from terrorists and the sick asshole who wrote this, thinks 9-11 was funny. 

Some of us still want bin Laden to stretch for it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Poking the (Poppa) Bear: Taking on O'Reilly AND his Detractors

O'Reilly says everything that the leftists hate.  Well, DUH!  He works for Fox News--that's his job.  He also exercises his first amendment rights, guaranteed under the Constitution, a pursuit I wholeheartedly support.  That isn't something we grant only to people who agree with us, it's something that needs to be in place for everyone.

There's a lot good to say about O'Reilly.  When the generationally self-aggrandizing media refused to criticize the many sins of President Clinton, O'Reilly became the lone voice in the wilderness, crusading against Slick Willie's excesses.  I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes as the media seemed to be working overtime to untangle their man from the web of his own libidinous deceit.  I don't care that Monica Lewinsky performed sexual favors for him;  I don't care about the cigar or the stained blue dress; I don't even care that his wife had to be humiliated in front of the nation because the President wouldn't come clean (insert joke here).  It came down to one simple word: perjury.  And the President's army of apologists in the punditry could claim that it didn't matter, that no one had ever gone to jail for lying about sex, that he'd done nothing wrong.  But they couldn't say he didn't do it, and O'Reilly was among that small cadre of individuals that refused to let him off the hook, just because all the other kids were doing it.

Messengers have a time and a place.  Sometimes, after delivering the all-important, earth-shattering message, the messenger comes to be thought of as a prophet--even a messiah.  He was right about x; he must be right about a lot of things.  Audiences adopt his philosphy as their own and before long, they stop questioning anything he says, even when it stops making sense.  He becomes entrenched, not for his insights that won him audiences, but for his dogma that reassures, even as it incites them. 

Becoming the embattled establishment he once fought against doesn't remove his right to speak opine or convey information as he sees it.  But O'Reilly, the consumate critic of anything and everything, seems to have forgotten that the same rules that protect his verbal attacks on others also protect his detractors when they choose to level attacks against him.

The Fox News Boycott reports that O'Reilly has taken exception to being called a race-baiter by Syracuse professor, Boyce Watkins.  Having failed to compel the University Chancellor, Nancy Cantor, to issue an apology for Watkins, O'Reilly claimed tha Syacuse University didn't have any academic standards.  This apparently resulted in Professor Watkins being denied tenure.

Perhaps you noticed the same thing I did: The Fox News Boycott--in name, if nothing else--seeks to silence those (namely, Fox News) who have the temerity to disagree with them.  Might it not just as well say, "Silence the dissidents?"  I don't understand why it is that audiences obediently tune in to watch and/or listen, hanging on every word of someone that has ceased to be relevant many years ago.  I don't have to understand it: caveat emptor--let the buyer beware--says it all.  His rightness or wrongness isn't a matter of moral or legal debate.  His right to speak is sacrosanct, and rather than O'Reilly trying to silence his critics or other movements trying to return the favor, perhaps the debate needs to end with, "Oh, I hate that guy."

I am not one of O'Reilly's "folks."  He does not speak for me.  But electronic messengers are a lot like vampires: if you don't want to be at their mercy, don't invite them into your home.

Or at least show them the door, once their message has been delivered.

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Left Wing, Right Wing--what's the Difference when they're all Chicken?

With the intent of ruffling some feathers, Congress can suck it.

Thanks for posting this one, Rude.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Response to Washington Post Op Ed: 'Stop Scapegoating'

To David S. Broder, Washington Post Columnist

Mr. Broder,

You needn't worry about President Obama giving in to public pressure.  He will very likely, as Peggy Noonan has suggested, "just keep walking."

But many of us who put him into that office would rather he do his job.  I find it convenient that when the mechanisms of checks and balances were employed to impeach Bill Clinton for perjuring himself in a civil case, unrelated to the execution of his duties as President, no one wanted to keep walking.  I don't disagree with that decision; he did, after all, perjure himself, a fact not in dispute.  The damage from this action was limited to the humiliation of his wife and daughter, his loss of credibility with the public, and of course, the tragic events that befell his victim, Paula Jones in her personal life following settlement of her case.  All of which was bad enough: he broke the law and deserved to be impeached.

The Democrats won't pursue charges against the Bush Administration.  Not because the "enhanced interrogation" techniques that were permitted fall short of the legal definition of torture: drag any police officer that perpetrated the same acts against a suspect in this country into a court of law and see if any judge buys the weak arguments outlined in now famous "torture memos."  The Democrats won't press this issue because they don't want their own guilt exposed.  And yes-men in the press, like yourself, have no desire to hold them to account for it either.  I'm not singling you out, sir: even Sam Donaldson doesn't want the torturers prosecuted.  The only real disagreement among your colleages on this issue seems to be if the public had a right to see the memos or not.

That's some "free" press, Mr. Broder.  You and your colleagues couldn't be more in step with our government if they were paying your salaries.  Whether the pundits are on the left or the right, there isn't much difference from cheap seats.  Simply limit the debate to something that the press should never be in favor of: does the public have the right to know if our officials gave an order that places us in violation of international treaties?

Does the public have the right to know?  Are they serious?  Isn't that their job?

You have correctly removed this notion from the debate by stating that the memos should have been released.  But you are quite wrong wrong with your "criminal vendetta" slippery-slope analogy.  I suspect that in addition to fearing their own exposure, the Democrats simply don't want to be accused of using the DOJ to the ends of political warfare, as you have suggested.  And they are also wrong.  Laws and international treaties were broken, sir.  Our entire case against the Nazi war criminals, given that Hitler, Goebells and Himmler took the cowards' way out, rested on the idea that following orders would not stand as a defense for war crimes.

The legal rationale followed an order from the President to find a loophole, not unlike the kind of legal wrangling the Clinton used to claim he had not had sex with Monica Lewinsky.  It happened, sir.  Men were shackled in stress positions, slammed into walls, deprived of sleep, and waterboarded.  I haven't heard anyone come forward to say, "I was fired for refusing to follow that order"--because no one did.  These were CIA operatives, educated enough to know about the legal rationale for the prosecutions at Nuremberg, and knowing that mandate, they had a way out and refused to take it anyway.  In short, sir, the President is wrong, and so are you.  Attorney General Eric Holder has an obligation to pursue indictments against each and every operative who took part in torturing prisoners, to make examples of the Bushist lawyers who provided the legal excuses for such savagery and if it is possible, to hold former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Cheney and anyone else involved, responsible for what they've done.

No one "just keeps walking" when some punks invade a home and terrorize a family, regardless of whether or not deadly force is used.  No one worries about accusations of "political warfare" when politicians are indicted for corruption (or impeached for lying).  Identifying and punishing the perpetrators isn't simply about deterrence and accountability, it's about keeping a promise we made to the world at a time when the world was fresh out of promise: no one gets a pass on war crimes.  One would hope we hold ourselves to that same standard the first time it's put to the test.

But as it appears we're about to go back on that pledge, I'm sure the Goering and Hess families would like to know so they can posthumously appeal Hermann and Rudoph's convictions.

Give them my best.


"In our time political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible."

--George Orwell

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