whackanarwhal

news you should know about

newsmongering 03/28

with 2 comments

> Some friends and I over on Facebook (hi, Ben!) have an ongoing conversation about the use of scare quotes in headlines. This is an oldie but goodie that I think takes the cake: “Khadr ‘scared’ of jail rape threat

> Newt Gingrich appears to be running for 2012, because he is an “effective leader.” Did you know he (apparently; sources are sketchy) once proposed lifetime imprisonment for anyone found bringing more than one ounce of marijuana into the US? Two or more ounces would merit execution. I’m sure that would be…effective. Also, Wonkette would like to remind you that Gingrich was having an affair whilst impeaching Clinton for having an affair. Because the experience of lying under oath is crucial in order to understand why you shouldn’t lie under oath. But if you’re more interested in things from this decade, he suggested in September that Obama had a “Kenyan, anti-colonial” worldview. Feel free to run with that!

> Man, 2012 is going to be fun. Salon walks us through the Republican 2012 field (on their home page, the article was titled “How Crazy Can Win: Three decades ago, the Republican Party embraced the religious right. Here comes the blowback“): “In one December ’99 debate, The Des Moines Register counted ‘more than 20 direct references to the father and son of the Holy Trinity of the Christian faith.'” Sweet puppies.

> In a classic example of why you should possibly a) clear, or at least b) think about, official remarks before making them, Joe Lieberman has announced that the international coalition’s Libya mission sets a precedent for future international intercession (ie, Syria, which: no. No no no no no). Look, I realize that a lot of the international human rights controversies are happening directly under the specter of Rwanda and the Balkans, but seriously, guys. Are we sending troops to Cote d’Ivoire now? Chechnya? China? And that’s just the C’s.

I don’t favor a doctrine of military intervention based on humanitarian need and this is why: a) it doesn’t work particularly well, historically speaking (see again, Rwanda – if you haven’t read We Wish to Inform You Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, run, don’t walk), and b) where do we draw that line? How many civilian deaths is too many? How many soldiers are we willing to kill to protect civilians? What happens when the line between soldier and civilian isn’t clear? Where are we getting are information from, and can we trust them? Who gets what out of boots on the ground, and do we know what Halliburton and Blackwater – sorry, I mean “Xe” – are up to these days?

This reminds me a bit of anti-abortion advocates who back down you ask if they’d like to jail women who have abortions (or miscarry, apparently). The thing about making a law is that you have to deal with transgressors. Because there will always be transgressors. Also, now I could talk about the vast inefficiency of the death penalty…but I won’t. ANYWAY, the problem with a foreign policy based on human rights abuses is that other countries will call you on it.

I do think there are times when intervention is called for – but making it dogmatic is not, I believe, a good move – and we need to be able to ensure above all else that we will do more good than harm. Which is a lot harder than it seems it should be.

> Egypt’s military council insists Mubarak is under house arrest and absolutely positively hasn’t fled to Saudia Arabia. Riyadh: I’d start checking under the couch.

> Via the Arabist – Syria, Turkey, and the rest of the world.

> Eman al-Obeidy, the Libyan woman who was disappeared after entering a hotel housing foreign journalist and describing her captivity, assault, and rape by pro-Quaddaffi forces has not reappeared. Also, Libyan authorities have announced that she is a well-known petty thief and prostitute. Oh, well, then. Her family has countered that she’s a  law student, and not that either statement is exclusive of the other, but can we take this moment to consider how little that matters? This is not the central issue here.

> Wonkette draws the analogy that the GOP is essentially holding its breath until turns purple in order to get its way. Also, Democrats are being bad parents and falling for it. Seriously, kids. Don’t make me pull this car over.

> Apparently a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel was sent to cover a fundraiser Joe Biden was scheduled to be at, but arrived before the VP, and thus was locked in a storage closet by staffers to keep him from mingling with the other donors until Biden showed up. No, really. (What exactly was happening at the party? #eyeswideshut)

> The other day, over at Facebook, I’d posted the links about the ties between fiscal and social conservatism and Michelle Bachmann’s plan to tax single families. While Karissa and I were goofing off , Michael was insightful. I asked if I could quote him, and he acquiesced (thanks, Michael!):

Personally, I would prefer to allow this narrative to gain ground, if I had any say, though; the practical reason is that it hurts the pro-Republican narrative that Rs are /really/ mostly just (vulgar) libertarians who don’t actually ca…re about all the culture war stuff (Barbour is an example of an R trying to push that narrative). In terms of whether it’s correct, although Bachmann et al get causation and/or definitions wrong, both “social” and “fiscal” conservatism are effectively the same thing (at least in this political reality, if not more generally), in that both aim to punish the unworthy and uphold traditional power relationships between groups. (Also, I don’t like dividing politics in terms of “social” and “economic” issues, because it seems to me this is mainly just a way for vulgar libertarians to claim/believe that they are ‘pro-freedom’ on “economic” issues.) (That has been another example of me interpreting Rs’ words as English rather than what they intend their words to mean: as a definitions problem, Rs are also attempting to conflate their preferred policies with the ostensible goals of said policies.)

>If you’ll briefly allow me to be pedantic for the purposes of making a point (…and alliterative, apparently): businesses in Japan have agreed to give up tax cuts to help the government’s recovery efforts. Also, Bank of America didn’t pay federal income tax last year but netted $1 billion from taxpayers. Look, obviously, this situations aren’t comparable on much of any level, and I just had an exam today on why Japan zigs while America zags…but can we just ponder that? Briefly? (via Reddit)

> Speak of Reddit…this guy accidentally shot himself in the head fourteen years ago. If you’ve ever had that “what if?” moment…

> A farmer in China has announced that his sheep gave birth to a puppy/lamb hybrid (luppy?).

>  Happy birthday to me, Lady Gaga, the Crimean War, and the Three Mile Island almost-disaster!

(I have great friends)

 

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Written by whackanarwhal

March 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. […] Eman al-Obeidy, whose story I’ve discussed here and here, is being charged with slander by the men she named as attackers. A government spokesman […]

  2. […] > Al Jazeera reports that ousted Egyptian president Mubarak is in Germany (would ‘fled’ be too strong a word?), possibly seeking medical treatment. The Egyptian military is denying these rumors. (Can I just say: called it!) […]


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