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You’ve probably already heard this, but MSNBC has finally gotten smart and is giving Rachel Maddow a show of her own, which will follow after Countdown on weeknights.
Allow me to add my voice to the thundering chorus of liberal bloggers, and say, “Yay!”
She’s smart, she’s witty, and she knows her political history. And she does not hesitate to call bullshit when some neocon goofball starts spouting talking points or lying outright.
For some time now, she’s been the only thing that would keep me watching any MSNBC panel discussion that also featured Pat Buchanan or Tucker Carlson. I’ve even endured Chris Matthews’ incessant talking over other people on the rare occasions when I’ve seen her on his show,* just to hear what she has to say.
She’s like, the AntiCoulter.
Anyway, congratulations to Rachel. I’m looking forward to seeing the new show.
* For all I know, Rachel has been on Matthews’ show lots of times. I just don’t watch it very often because I really can’t stand to listen to that man. When he and Keith Olbermann are doing coverage of political events together, I mostly hit the mute when Tweety starts in. Awful, I know. But his voice is loud and harsh, and don’t get me started on his laugh. And he just can’t seem to stop himself from interrupting every single person he has on. Seriously. Once in a while, interruptions are okay – maybe even appropriate or necessary – but he does it all the fucking time.
Hello, all. I’m more or less back online now, and trying to get caught up on everything that’s been happening over the past week while I’ve been living in a “news-free” zone. (Don’t ask.)
I’m working on a couple of pieces which I will post over the next few days. In the mean time, I thought I’d pass this along. It’s the first of a series of three short video clips put together by an Iraqi journalist who apparently works for the Guardian. (h/t C&L) These were filmed outside the Green Zone in Baghdad earlier this year. The other clips can be found here and here.
Can we please just impeach Bush and Cheney now?
It occurs to me, as I look back over the past few posts, that I’ve been spending a lot of time complaining about Hillary Clinton lately, instead of going after the people who really deserve it: Bush, Cheney, McCain, and all of their little minions. Obviously, I am not alone in this, as anyone who has watched a news broadcast in the mainstream media lately can attest.
In a way, Hillary Clinton has recently been the best thing that could have happened to our alleged president, his lackeys, and his would-be successor. Because if we’re all in a tizzy about what Hillary is doing, it leaves them freer to continue their crooked activities. Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain, folks!
Well enough of that. As of now, I am back in my usual mode of going after the corrupt bastards currently running the show in DC. I may not get another post up before tomorrow, but I promise to get back to fighting the good fight instead of complaining about Hillary.
After all, I still believe that Bush and Cheney really ought to be impeached.
No, wait. They’re all connected. I promise.
See, I was checking out the blogs this morning, and I came across a couple stories in rapid succession that seemed to me closely related.
The first was this story in the Denver Post about someone who claims to have video of a space alien peering into the windows of his home. The story includes a copy of the video — dark and somewhat grainy, but seeming to show a face with enormous eyes peering into a window, which the story helpfully tells us is eight feet off the ground. The story also informs us that the homeowner had set up a security camera because he suspected peeping Toms of looking in the windows at his teenage daughters, and instead caught footage of a space alien.
The second was this story on Politico.com (h/t to HuffPo) about Bill Clinton’s “enemies list”:
With Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign on the verge of defeat, Bill Clinton has been placing blame on enemies including a brazenly biased media that tried to suppress blue-collar votes, a powerful anti-war group that endorsed rival Barack Obama and weak-willed party leaders unable to stand up to either of these nefarious forces.
Now, I know what you’re saying, my dear, non-existent readers. “How can these two stories possibly be related?” But trust me — there is a connection in my warped little brain.
Let’s start with the space alien story, shall we? As you read the story, you find out that the guy who got the video was trying to see if there were peeping Toms looking into his house (thus explaining the videocamera pointed at a window). And you might think, “Okay, this seems unlikely, but the video isn’t obviously faked, so I’ll reserve judgment for the moment.”
But then, if you read a bit further into the article, you find out that the homeowner who captured the video images also “claims to have had more than 100 encounters with aliens” and asserts that he was abducted by extraterrestrials.
Suddenly you find yourself thinking, “Maybe this guy didn’t see any aliens. Maybe he’s just a complete nut.”
Because one chance unexplained occurrence from someone with no history of such claims might be legitimate, or at least worth exploring. But when you see someone who claims repeated encounters with aliens — when no one else of your acquaintance can make similar claims — you have to think that it’s a bit improbable, and that there is likely some other explanation, probably involving psychotropic meds.
It’s like the stranger you meet in a bar, who is ranting and raving about his ex-wife who (according to him) was a psychotic bitch-monster from hell.
Now, if you talk to this stranger for a while longer, he may provide evidence to support his claim. Maybe she really was a psychotic bitch-monster from hell. It happens.
On the other hand, a longer conversation may reveal that not only was his ex-wife a psychotic bitch-monster from hell, but so was the girl he was dating before he met his wife. And the girlfriend before her. And his mom. And his sister. And his secretary. And his boss. And his third, fourth, seventh, and tenth grade teachers. And…well, you get the idea.
You kind of have to start thinking, “It’s not the women who are the problem. It’s you, buddy.”
Which brings me back to the Clintons.
Throughout the race, they seem to have done nothing but blame and complain. It’s the media. It’s MoveOn.org. It’s black voters. It’s white males. It’s young voters. It’s sexism. It’s the caucus states. It’s the right-wingers. It’s the talking heads. And did I mention the media?
And I can’t help thinking, “Bill, Hillary, maybe it’s not the media. It’s not MoveOn.org. It’s not the Obama supporters. It’s not even the vast right-wing conspiracy.”
Hillary started out as the media-anointed candidate, considered all but a sure thing to win the Democratic nomination. For a long time, all the other candidates, Obama included, were being covered by the press as “also-rans”. Because who could possibly conquer the Mighty Clinton Fundraising Machine(tm)?
But at the end of the day, there were just more people backing Obama where they were needed, netting him more votes, more delegates, and more donations. And those people had a lot of different (and legitimate) reasons for backing Obama. Reasons that may have had little or nothing to do with the media, or MoveOn.org, or whatever.
Game over for Bill and Hillary.
If Bill and Hillary are smart and willing to be honest with themselves (if not anyone else), maybe, just maybe, they’ll take a long look in the mirror, and think, “What could we have done differently, that would have turned the nomination our way?”
But I doubt it. It’s much easier, after all, to blame everyone else than to admit that maybe you could have done something differently to win more voters.
On an only marginally related note, I still think Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.
”Complete nut” being the technical, psychological term, of course.
Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fled France [Saturday] fearing arrest over charges of “ordering and authorizing” torture of detainees at both the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the US military’s detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, unconfirmed reports coming from Paris suggest.
US embassy officials whisked Rumsfeld away yesterday from a breakfast meeting in Paris organized by the Foreign Policy magazine after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint againsgt the man who spearheaded President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” for six years.
Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.
Major disclaimer: I have absolutely no way of knowing whether any of this is true.
Of the three places I found this story, the only one I have any prior experience with is AlterNet. They seem to be attributing the story to IPS News (Inter Press Service News Agency), which I have never even heard of before. I cannot find the story on the IPS web site, and therefore am uncertain whether AlterNet’s attribution is correct.
One of the three sites reporting the story seems to be based in Iran, although it is an English-language site. Given the current state of relations between Iran and the US, I am likely to be skeptical about anything one of those country’s media report about government officials (or ex-officials) from the other country. (And yes, that works in both directions, given all the untrue things the US mainstream media reported about Iraq back in 2002 and early 2003.)
The third site is something called world news, which looks like a blog and seems to include stories from a variety of reputable sources, including the New York Times, Reuters, and BBC News. However, it does not list any source for this story, either.
None of the stories include an author’s name, though the Iranian site does have some initials at the end of the story (“RZS/BGH”), which might signify a staff author or authors — other stories on the site include similar strings of initials at the ends of the stories. The end result is that we have zero accountability on this story. (Yes, I realize that sounds ironic coming from someone who blogs under the moniker jane doe. But I’m all about irony. Plus, I usually cite sources for any factual assertions I make, unless they are being widely reported already by multiple mainstream sources.)
On the assumption that this might have actually happened but been ignored by our beloved corporate mainstream media here in the US, I did a little searching on some European news sites. Guardian (UK) and the BBC are both silent on this story, and the former of those, at least, would probably mention it if they had heard about it.
All-in-all, I have a lot of doubts about the truth of the story, but I thought it deserved a mention, if only in the hopes that someone who has the ability to investigate whether any of it is true picks up on it.
So my question to you, my dear non-existent readers, is this: has anyone else heard anything about this? Is this story true? A distortion of a true story? An outright hoax?
I don’t know. If you do, please post a reply in the comments.
And by the way, whether this story is true or not, it does not change my position that Bush and Cheney really ought to be impeached.
In my previous post, I outlined some of the principles of terror management theory, and described the theory’s implications for American politics. But despite the length of my post, I left out one very important point that I really wanted to emphasize.
You see, I am aware of anecdotal evidence that awareness of terror management theory can actually change individuals’ reactions to those lovely death primes the research relies on. Certainly, I have found that my own awareness of the theory has changed the way I watch the news, and in particular it has changed the weight I give to various political assertions by members of the current administration.
But I am not drawing solely on my own experience in making this assertion, even though I am unaware of any published study that would support it. Rather, I am relying in part on unpublished whisperings among the graduate students at one of the academic institutions where much of the research into terror management theory has been conducted.
First, you must understand that much of the research in this field (as is the case with nearly all psychological research) is performed on undergraduate college students, usually those enrolled in undergraduate psychology courses. There is a very good reason for this, of course: undergraduates are a convenient research population, and they will usually participate without pay in exchange for a few extra credit points in their psych classes.
On at least one of the campuses where much of the research into terror management theory takes place, the graduate students who collected the data complained that they had gotten reputations among the current crop undergraduate psychology majors for always working on terror management studies, and the students participating in the studies would be looking for the death primes as soon as they saw the graduate students conducting the research. Suddenly, the researchers had trouble getting statistically significant results, even in cases where all previous research suggested that the present study should produce such results. In other words, awareness of terror management theory at least partially nullified the effect of the death prime. As a result of this, the grad students had to start going to other college campuses in the area to seek research participants.
It is for this reason that I have devoted so much time researching and writing my post on the politics of terror management. (Though the post ostensibly responds to Olbermann’s recent piece on the nexus of politics and terror, I have actually been working on it for some time and only made the changes that address his piece in the last two days.) I hope that my post on the subject, and a few others I have planned, will spark a discussion of terror management theory in the blogosphere, and that that discussion will eventually reach the mainstream media. It is my hope that, by increasing voter awareness of terror management theory and its implications, the ability of politicians to manipulate those voters with fear will be reduced.
Please note that I am not claiming there is no reason for us to be concerned about future terrorist attacks. The events of 9/11 made it plain that we are vulnerable to attacks on American soil, and it is appropriate for our government to devote significant resources to preventing future attacks. My point (and hope) is that voters should be able to make their decisions about which candidate(s) would be best to lead our country into a post-Bush future and undo the damage he has done to our country and our standing in the world arena free of the sort of emotional manipulation that we have been subject to in the recent past. Knowledge is power, and in the present instant, knowledge of terror management theory confers the power to resist manipulation by those who hope to use the theory to manipulate us with fear tactics.
And furthermore, I believe that Bush and Cheney ought to be impeached.
So apparently our alleged president, in his infinite wisdom, has decided to begin a covert campaign to destabilize Iran. Obviously the fiasco in Iraq, the re-emerging war in Afghanistan, the Justice department scandal, the World Bank mess, and his battles with Congress aren’t enough to occupy his time, and he has decided to go looking for additional trouble on another front.
And how do I know about this covert campaign, you may ask? Because it was very helpfully reported by ABC News.
This, of course, has prompted howls of ungrammatical outrage from the steadily dwindling number of Americans who still support George Bush – witness the comments to the above-referenced story, where commenters called ABC News “traders” (one assumes the person meant traitors) and speak of their “tresonous [sic] actions”.
While I can understand the poorly articulated concerns of those who commented on the story, I disagree with their conclusions. There are actions that our government takes that clearly should be kept secret. Broadcasting details of troop movements during combat operations, for example, would put our troops and our entire strategy at grave risk. Barring some notorious exceptions, I think our press has generally been sensitive to this need for vagueness in reporting on ongoing operations.
On the other hand, when our leaders decide to take unauthorized action against a country with which we are not at war, hoping to destabilize its government in the face of very vocal protests by many Americans that we should not go looking for trouble with that country given our current commitments in the world arena, and a news organization finds out about it, I believe that circumstances justify a decision to report on that story.
Clearly, someone within the administration was concerned enough about Bush’s decision to feel that public disclosure was necessary to prevent a huge catastrophe. Just a few weeks ago, George Tenet came under strong criticism from many quarters for his decision not to quit as head of the CIA and go to the press in protest of Bush’s actions in the run-up to the Iraq war. Someone watching all that apparently concluded that they didn’t want a similar catastrofuck on their conscience with respect to Iran – and bless them for it.So am I angered by ABC News’ decision to run this story? No. I view them as the whistleblower in this instance, alerting us to yet another questionable action by this administration that is running amok at our expense. We cannot afford a war with Iran at this time, due in large part to Bush’s bungling of the Iraq situation. And frankly, I don’t trust the motives of anyone in the Bush administration anymore.
“I acknowledge that mistakes were made.”
–Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales
Isn’t the passive voice a wonderful thing? It’s a way to appear responsible, without actually taking any responsibility. A handy rhetorical tool for those in politics, and one which we got to see in use just today, as our Chief Rationalizer for the Undermining of the Constitution, also known as the Attorney General, tried to justify the political firing of eight U.S. Attorneys while at the same time pretending he had nothing to do with it.
“Mistakes were made,” certainly, but when phrased that way, it leaves open the very important question, who by? Please, tell us, exactly who made these mistakes? You? Karl Rove? The alleged president? The American people, by voting these weasels into power? I submit to you, my nonexistent readers, that there is a world of difference between saying “mistakes were made,” and admitting that “I made a mistake.”
In fairness to Gonzales, he is hardly the first political-type to try to weasel out of a tight spot using the passive voice, and he certainly won’t be the last. Examples abound of this sort of creative use of the passive voice in politics. I seem to recall someone in the Reagan administration saying it in connection with the Iran-Contra affair, and others have used similar words in similarly awkward or appalling political situations.
And there are good reasons why we see so much of this from the mouths of politicians. A rather startling percentage of politicians are lawyers, after all, and while law students are generally urged by their writing instructors to use the active voice, those same instructors will be the first to tell you that the passive voice can be your friend when you want to accurately describe the facts in a brief without making your client look guilty of whatever he or she (or it, in the case of corporate clients) has been accused of. Consider the following example:
Imagine you are representing a defendant in a civil lawsuit in which one party is being sued for, hypothetically speaking, shooting the plaintiff in the face while the plaintiff and the defendant were out hunting after having a few beers. Which of the following sentences would you rather include in your legal brief?
“Plaintiff was shot in the face while hunting.”
“Defendant Cheney then accidentally shot the plaintiff in the face.”
The first option acknowledges that the plaintiff was shot in the face, but provides no information about who pulled the trigger. Conversely, even putting in the word “accidentally” in the second statement doesn’t help our poor defendant out very much there, does it?
In fairness to the Republicans (and make a note that I am trying to be fair to the slimy bastards), Democrats are probably just as guilty of abuse of the passive voice. In the face of reporters trying to get Hillary Clinton to admit that she was wrong to vote in favor of the Iraq war, the most I have heard anyone get from her is an acknowledgment that “it was a mistake” — not that she made a mistake. (Shame on you, Hillary. You’re not fooling anyone with half a brain and that will work against you, since you’re not running for the Republican Party’s nomination.)
Some reporters push the issue, but it seems like many more dutifully repeat what is said to them without further inquiry. And of course, on Faux News, they just stick to whatever talking points they’ve been handed by their Republican Party overlords. We need to start forcing the issue when we are confronted with politicians trying to passive-voice their way out of a sticky situation. Otherwise, mistakes will continue to be made, and responsibility will continue to be ducked.