Wednesday, December 22, 2004

True Face of the Enemy

I have to leave this blog alone occasionally because I find that it's just the same things that keep happening.

Here's one example. I found, on Pandagon, a reference to some conservative site discussing main-stream media's treatment of insurgents/terrorists.
Here's a small piece of that, referring to the recent attack in Mosul.

"However, it is safe to say that the attack demonstrates assymetrical warfare in action. The enemy chose the weakest point he could find to attack; exploited the known limitations of the American response; and understood that he was to all intents and purposes exempted from the condemnation attendant to attacking the wounded and medical personnel."
Um, well, yeah. It's not as if we don't do the same thing when we deem it "necessary." But that's not the same, is it?
"The chaplain and the medical personnel knew this and did not mill around expecting the Geneva Convention to protect them from those who have never heard of it, except as it applies to their own convenience."
And again... maybe rethink that a little.
"They knew the true face of the enemy; a face which bore no resemblance to the heroic countenance often presented by the media to the world."
Where? When? Show me some proof of this goddamned tripe I keep hearing. There are columnists who are fuzzy in their thinking, but in general news coverage there is no sympathy for the insurgents. There is barely sympathy for the Iraqis ("Wait, but aren't the Iraqis and the insurgents the same thing?").
Granted, I watch mostly local news, and the numbers for cable are higher. But there is a severe trickle down effect in media (works better there than it does in economics) and tone is fairly uniform. There is a constant outpouring of care and concern for the soldiers and brief mentions of the Iraqis - and no mention of the grievances Iraqis may have that would make them fight.

Only CNN occassionally interviews experts who talk about what created, and is creating, the situation over there. But that is very rare. Attacks are attacks and they are horrible

Here's some more...
"It is necessary to link the war criminal behavior of the enemy with the studied blindness of 'sophisticates' towards their most heinous crimes."
Wow. Well, yes, we wouldn't want anyone rationalizing or making excuses for war crimes. But we can get around that by not acknowledging our war crimes to begin with.

I don't mean to go on some tirade about US war crimes. I just want some rational thinking, and an end to this hypocrisy and sense of entitlement - as if the only things we've ever done wrong as a country were slavery and destruction of Native Americans (oh, and maybe those WWII Japanese internment camps). And any time such things are mentioned there is a reaction as if I were saying the US were responsible for all the world's ills.

And don't even talk to me about Bush's little speech yesterday, saying that the war is important for peace. We have no way out now, but I wish he wouldn't use such feeble language to make people feel better. Those families that lost loved ones. . . I just think it's such weak comfort to give them - almost seems to make it worse.

Powell Drops the Ball

Yes, it is true. Colin Powell will drop the ball.
The Times Square New Year's Eve ball to be exact. Powell will push the button for the famous ball drop.
It would be more appropriate, perhaps, if it was Rumsfeld.

Friday, December 10, 2004

One or Two Out of Three

Tony Blair, The Duke of Edinburgh,
George Bush:
The Wise Men in Madame

Secrets & Lies & Videotape

I watched Lou Dobbs tonight. He covered the Jim Taricani case - the reporter sentenced for not revealing his source who provided him with an FBI videotape showing a city official being bribed.

Meanwhile, in that little matter known as the Valerie Plame case, I have seen only brief mention of Robert Novak's name in connection with it. He wrote the article, didn't he? And isn't leaking the name of a CIA operative a higher offense than leaking a local FBI investigation tape?
I think Novak is a bit of a scumbag, but I don't think he should be punished. Honestly, it probably shouldn't be taking them so long to find out who leaked the name (hmmm....). Still, Novak didn't take any heat for publishing the information or for witholding the name of his source.

"Novak refused to say whether he has also received a subpoena; he is referring all questions on the matter to his attorney.

In a statement, NBC News President Neal Shapiro said the network would fight the subpoena, although Russert was not the recipient of a leak.

"The American public will be deprived of important information if the government can freely question journalists about their efforts to gather news," Shapiro said. "Sources will simply stop speaking to the press if they fear those conversations will become public."

Time Magazine general counsel Robin Bierstedt told CNN that the publication would also fight the subpoena, saying that Time's policy is to protect confidential sources. Time Magazine and CNN are related companies, both part of the Time-Warner Co.

Former federal prosecutors told CNN that investigators are required to exhaust other possible leads before resorting to questioning journalists, so that issuing subpoenas is a signal that the investigation is in its final stages."
I think Novak should take some heat from media colleagues and from viewers for being a Republican stooge, and for disclosing Plame's name to no end. Alas, it will not happen. And meanwhile, it seems that others are being pulled into this vortex.
"In perhaps the highest profile case of its kind, reporters from the New York Times, NBC and Time Magazine were held in contempt this year as part of the investigation into whether the Bush administration leaked the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame to the news media."
All of this love of disclosure is ironic given that it is done in pursuit of more secrecy.

Relatively Racist

Pandagon has an interesting post regarding some of what was discussed in the last post. It's a hard subject to pin down, but I do find this conservative spin on slavery disturbing.

"In case you don't want to wade through the barely-coded crapfest, suffice to say that they define "Southern" as "the genesis of the white race", and the Civil War as that giant loss they're never going to get over. And, apparently, it's a part of a well-rounded education." - Pandagon post
As I mentioned before, I think the conservative angst about liberal education and PC teaching is that it is too relativist. Sometimes, and for some students, it can cross the line into "we must appreciate all other cultures in their own right and avoid any belief system." That's a broad brush portrayal of it, but I think you get what I mean.
So now we get these mental backflips and spins involving understanding slavery through southern white culture? Don't get me wrong, I'm no relativist. This isn't a black and white world, but not every answer can be right (despite what some Literature professors might say). But this situation seems to seek "understanding" at the expense of facts.

On top of that, I must add that most elementary and high school students do not get a factually well-rounded education. How much do we really hear about American Indians? How much do we really hear about our founding fathers (their religions and so forth)? African Americans? Joe McCarthy (not the cute and cuddly Joe McCarthy that Ann Coulter so loves)?
I don't want to create a bunch of America-haters, but don't we always hear about how it is important to learn from our mistakes? Looking at the recent election, that is clearly one lesson a lot of people missed in school.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

In my recent Economist there is an article about the rampant liberalism in American Universities. It is a vague article and I will only get frustrated as I delve into it; but I am interested in what you guys think about the issue of liberal teachers and a liberal curriculum taught in universities.
Here is an interesting quote from the article:

Bias in universities is hard to correct because it is usually not overt: it has to do with prejudice about which topics are worth studying and what values are worth holding. Stephen Balch, the president of the conservative National Assoc. of Scholars, arggues that university faculties suffer from the same political problems as the "small republics described in Federalist 10: a motivated majority within the faculty finds it easy to monopolise decision-making and squeeze out minorities.
I find that one problem with some of this thought is that liberalism, and a liberal education, does strive to embrace several points of view - but all at once, which is what I think really bothers some conservatives, among others. Anyone seen as having a conviction that could be exclusionary (or perceived as such) is ostracized. This is part of that PC mythology (also mentioned in The Economist article).
I went to American University in D.C., which my father calls the bastion of liberalism (possibly heard on O'Reilly), and which I feel had a diverse population with diverse views. Many students at the university came from other countries, which means that they tended to have very different points of view on liberalism and conservatism at the core. Those are the views that I feel are lacking in American education; but trying to understand those perspectives is an act often dismissed by conservatives. The main fault of a liberal education, I feel, is that it leans too much away from pragmatism and too much towards relativism. But I much prefer to err on the side of open-mindedness. Cultivate an open mind and many will still become conservatives. Clearly, this country is not lacking in conservatives. After all, Bush did have a mandate.

On a related note, isn't it interesting that it Republicans and conservatives talk so much about the liberal intelligentsia - if so many intellectuals are liberal, maybe they're on to something.

I would appreciate any comments you may have on this.

The Hyman

Mark Hyman is covered in a nice little article on Media Matters for America. It includes links to various other items discussed on MMA involving Hyman. It's a nice little look at his use of "facts".
Clearly Hyman's hero is Rush Limbaugh. Or maybe Bill O'Reilly, because he adopts that "I'm just a reasonable man" tone.

Swinging the Big Stick

"Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent: to make this nation stronger and better I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation." - President Bush

In the month since George Bush's acceptance speech, the following things have happened. The president has replaced a third of his cabinet, tightening White House control over government departments still further. In the House of Representatives, the Republican Speaker, Dennis Hastert, has pulled a bill on intelligence reform that would have passed with Democratic votes because it did not have majority support in his own party. In the Senate, Republicans have increased the power of their party leader to dole out plum jobs, and threatened to change the procedural rules that allow Democrats to filibuster judicial nominations. If this is bipartisanship, heaven help America when the Republicans play rough. - The Economist
Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.
Later in the article, The Economist seems to hold on to some hope that Bush will reach out or at least not try to exert so much control. I often think that The Economist doesn't quite understand some political realities. They are pragmatic, which I like, but people aren't always pragmatic, and leaders especially are often driven by interests outside of pragmatism.
The more worrying changes have come in the Senate, traditionally more resistant to party discipline.
To start with, conservatives mounted a ferocious campaign to stop Arlen Specter, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania, from becoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee . . . Mr. Specter had infuriated his colleagues by saying anti-abortion judges were unlikely to be confirmed. On this occasion, Senate traditions prevailed: Mr. Specter got the job based on seniority - but now before having to eat his words and kow-tow to all and sundry.
[. . .]
The Republican senators then gave their leader, Bill Frist, and instrument for enforcing party discipline: he may now fill some vacancies on committees himself, overriding traditions of seniority. More controversially, Republicans are talking about challenging what is arguably the most important rule in the Senate - the filibuster, a delaying tactic which means that to get anything done you need 60 votes, not a simple majority of 51. - The Economist

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Bring Back Indulgences

Yeah, so I haven't been keeping up the blog lately. Sorry.
Well, not really sorry at all. I've been busy.

Well, not so much busy as tired.

The only thing that's gotten me remotely interested lately (besides the old news of the war) was the ad that the Unitarian church wanted to run, featuring minorities and gays being kept out of a church. All the shiny happy white people were let in, of course.
The message being that other churches are exclusionary and the Unitarians aren't.

ABC rejecting the ad was understandable, as they have a policy against running religious ads in general. But CBS and NBC rejected the ad for being too controversial.

From CNN: "Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast," the church quoted CBS as saying.

A minister was interviewed on one of my news programs and he found that statement very disturbing. I've said it before, we need to get government out of religion.
Another minister said that the ad was a "misrepresentation of scripture." I'm sorry, but how many translations of scripture are there? And how many different sects of Christianity are there? Besides, the whole history of The Church tells of constant convenient misrepresentation.

I'm not sure how I feel about the recent approval of money for maintenance of missions in CA. Granted, we do not want federal money going into churches, but many of those sites have an historical significance. If the money would only go toward the physical rebuilding of the church and not towards services . . . ? It's a loophole.

By the way, I watched Jack Van Impe the other night and you all will be relieved to know that Armageddon is still on it's way.