Month: July 2010

An Exercise in Futility

George W. BushIn a broader context, an easy way to remember the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives is found in the words themselves. Historically, liberals have been for the advancement of liberty and the empowerment it brings. From Jesus to Muhammad and on through Wollstonecroft, Byron, Shelly, and into the twentieth century with Goldman, the idea has had to do with liberty and liberation.

Conservatives, on the other hand, wish to conserve. Specifically, they wish to conserve that precious resource known as authority. The rhetoric of conservatism is the same for toppled kings and queens as it is for senators in a decaying republic. I mean, think about it for a moment: when the Democrats were the conservatives, they were for slavery. Party names, affiliations, and outlooks change, but the fundamental principles against which they are measured remain more firmly fixed in the foundations of history.

For a couple of years, it was the love that dared not speak his name. In 2008, Republican candidates hardly ever mentioned the president still sitting in the White House. After the election, the G.O.P. did its best to shout down all talk about how we got into the mess we’re in, insisting that we needed to look forward, not back. And many in the news media played along, acting as if it was somehow uncouth for Democrats even to mention the Bush era and its legacy.

The truth, however, is that the only problem Republicans ever had with George W. Bush was his low approval rating. They always loved his policies and his governing style — and they want them back. In recent weeks, G.O.P. leaders have come out for a complete return to the Bush agenda, including tax breaks for the rich and financial deregulation. They’ve even resurrected the plan to cut future Social Security benefits.

The idea that the Republicans are looking back to Bush is an interesting suggestion. If nothing else, it would remind that the cycles of history are accelerating. Why bother with Reagan anymore? That system went bust; leave it to the Tea Party.

Paul Krugman suggests the GOP is addicted to Bush, (more…)

The Lede of the Month

Taman News/AFPLet’s call this one the lede of the month. Via Tom Parfitt, for The Guardian:

Police in southern Russia have launched an animal cruelty investigation after a tour operator forced a donkey to parasail over the sea.

It should be noted that nothing about the story isn’t hilarious in that morbid way of things:

Video footage showed the beast being catapulted into the air after a group of men on a beach at Golubitskaya, on the Sea of Azoz, strapped it into a harness.

The donkey was then towed by a boat for half an hour, initially flailing its legs and then hanging forlornly under a multi-coloured parachute at least 30 metres above the surf.

Stunned beachgoers said the animal had brayed in fear as it whistled through the air, causing children to burst into tears. Others calmly filmed the event on their mobile phones.

“This is a little town and we all know that donkey well,” one local woman told reporters. “He worked for several years on the beach, being photographed with tourists. As soon as his ordeal was over, a lot of the people on the beach ran forward to soothe him.” Witnesses say the animal was hauled through the sea and on to the sand as it landed.

Setting aside the bit about the catapult, we might be seeing one of the strangest sentences in all journalism for the year: “Stunned beachgoers said the animal had brayed in fear as it whistled through the air, causing children to burst into tears.

I mean, this is horrible, so why can’t I stop laughing? I’m a monster … a monster!

Your Liberal Media Conspiracy

Glenn Greenwald explains:

CNN yesterday ended the 20-year career of Octavia Nasr, its Atlanta-based Senior Middle East News Editor, because of a now-deleted tweet she wrote on Sunday upon learning of the death of one of the Shiite world’s most beloved religious figures: “Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah . . . . One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” That message spawned an intense fit of protest from Far Right outlets, Thought Crime enforcers, and other neocon precincts, and CNN quickly (and characteristically) capitulated to that pressure by firing her. The network—which has employed a former AIPAC official, Wolf Blitzer, as its primary news anchor for the last 15 years—justified its actions by claiming that Nasr’s “credibility” had been “compromised.” Within this episode lies several important lessons about media “objectivity” and how the scope of permissible views is enforced.

First, consider which viewpoints cause someone to be fired from The Liberal Media. Last month, Helen Thomas’ 60-year career as a journalist ended when she expressed the exact view about Jews which numerous public figures have expressed (with no consequence or even controversy) about Palestinians. Just weeks ago, The Washington Post accepted the “resignation” of Dave Weigel because of scorn he heaped on right-wing figures such as Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh. CNN’s Chief News Executive, Eason Jordan, was previously forced to resign after he provoked a right-wing fit of fury over comments he made about the numerousand obviously disturbingincidents where the U.S. military had injured or killed journalists in war zones. NBC fired Peter Arnett for criticizing the U.S. war plan on Iraqi television, which prompted accusations of Treason from the Right. MSNBC demoted and then fired its rising star Ashleigh Banfield after she criticized American media war coverage for adhering to the Fox model of glorifying U.S. wars; the same network fired its top-rated host, Phil Donahue, due to its fear of being perceived as anti-war; and its former reporter, Jessica Yellin, confessed that journalists were “under enormous pressure from corporate executives” to present the news in a pro-war and pro-Bush manner.

What each of these firing offenses have in common is that they angered and offended the neocon Right. Isn’t that a strange dynamic for the supposedly Liberal Media: the only viewpoint-based firings of journalists are ones where the journalist breaches neoconservative orthodoxy? Have there ever been any viewpoint-based firings of establishment journalists by The Liberal Media because of comments which offended liberals? None that I can recall. I foolishly thought that when George Bush’s own Press Secretary mocked the American media for being “too deferential” to the Bush administration, that would at least put a dent in that most fictitious American myth: The Liberal Media. But it didn’t; nothing does, not even the endless spate of journalist firings for deviating from right-wing dogma.

So here we have another example of the Liberal Media Conspiracy charging forward at reckless speed. Yet another journalist has fallen from grace for holding and communicating opinions too liberal for the … uh … Liberal Media Conspiracy.

Er … yeah. That makes sense. Right?

Anyone?