whackanarwhal

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newsmongering 02/28

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> There was no newsmongering yesterday because I went to go see The Phantom Menace in 3D instead. I hadn’t actually watched it all the way through since I was too young to know better, and I thought there was a slight chance that it might have improved with age, or at least that the 3D would be pretty enough to make up for the film’s weaknesses. In short: it didn’t and it wasn’t, although I did leave with a nice headache. Part of it was probably the 2D to 3D conversion (not terribly successful). Part of it might have been that the movie sucks.

> I keep fiddling with the idea of making this blog a Santorum-free zone, because I honestly think (/desperately hope) that the man doesn’t actually have a snowball’s hope of landing the nomination (although the debates with Obama would have enormous comic potential. I would make popcorn. I don’t even like popcorn), and right now, for all practical purposes, he’s kind of a distraction from the men who could potentially be the actual Republican hopefuls. But then he goes and does things that basically demand attention, and because he’s being somehow taken seriously as a potential candidate at the moment, I feel like I sort of have to respond.

So  apparently American universities are secular “indoctrination mills.” I’m going to take a quiet moment here to point out that the first time I understood conservatism at all was when I had to read Burke for a uni class – an Honor’s class, no less (I still disagree with quite a lot of conservative philosophy, but I at least generally get where it’s coming from). Anyway, Mr. Santorum followed up with a jab at President Obama, calling him a “snob” for wanting all American kids to go to college. It is worth noting at this juncture that Mr. Santorum holds more degrees than Obama – Santorum has a BA, MBA, and JD; Obama has a BA and JD but not an MBA – and that Mr. Santorum’s two children attend university, although they’re taking time off for the campaign. Mr. Santorum’s father held a  Ph.D. So when Mr. Santorum suggests that university degrees aren’t necessary (which is a valid enough point, but not for the reasons Mr. Santorum seems to be suggesting, which is mainly that Jesus has a lot less clout the higher you get up the educational ladder), he means for those other people. Not his children. So mostly this feels like a wacky remix of ye olde “the only moral abortion is my abortion,” but in this iteration, it’s other people’s children who are worshipping the idol of an undergraduate degree. His kids are there for the right reasons.So was his father. So was he.

Because the American educational system is in such great shape that really, it can afford to discourage college enrollment – not on the grounds that a lot of jobs shouldn’t require university degrees, that there are other branches of training and education (trade school! Apprenticeship systems!) for which book-larnin’ won’t do you a lot of good, but simply because educated = bad.

I mentioned up above that I’m looking forward to the (highly unlikely) Obama-Santorum debates (please, let them be highly unlikely). Much as I may occasionally disagree with President Obama’s positions and policies, I will never deny that the man is intelligent and incredibly well educated. He was the president of the Harvard Law Review. He taught constitutional law at University of Chicago. In short, he knows his shit, and so when Santorum gets behind the podium and announces – for example – that church and state aren’t intended to be absolutely separate, I kind of expect Obama to wipe the floor with him.

And Santorum is insane if he doesn’t see that coming. Not that I’m arguing he’s in touch with reality – he’s not – but surely enough people on his campaign staff have whispered in his ear while he’s slept that he has an inkling by now. So I suspect this is him laying the groundwork for the can of whoop-ass Obama will open on him at the (please, please, no) debates. The spin will be that it’s not that Mr. Santorum is wrong; it’s that his opponent is a snob. So there. It’s playground politics at the national level, and it should disgust you.

Remember how I said up above that I disagree with some of Obama’s policies? I do. Frustrating newsdays aren’t always frustrating because the GOP has gone off the deep end (although they’re often an easier target). But I have a high level of respect for both the man and the office he holds. And I have a sneaking suspicion that, in some weird alternate universe where I would get to walk into the Oval Office every second Wednesday and demand that Obama explain himself (which would be kind of cool, actually), he would respect my positions despite our disagreements. I can’t begin to imagine Mr. Santorum – or any of the current GOP frontrunners – respecting opinions in opposition to their own.

Mr. Santorum announced that a Kennedy speech reinforcing the separation of church and state makes him want to “throw up” (linked above). Call me sensitive, say I watched too much The West Wing as a kid (that one’s probably true), but – aside from Santorum’s interpretation of the speech, which is that “people of faith have no role in the public square,” and that’s funny ’cause Kennedy was Catholic, but it’s not like Santorum and I see eye to eye anyway – does it seem a little…inappropriate to anyone else? I understand if Mr. Santorum disagrees with President Kennedy’s position, and it’s well within his rights to say so. But that specific language? I think kids in my elementary school used to use similar language when decrying opposing teams in kickball. In, like, fifth grade gym class. To say not that you disagree with a former US President’s position but to say that that position makes you want to vomit is a tremendous disrespect to the man and the office he held.

I might be making too much of this; I’m good at that. But it feels to me like there’s been a fundamental disrespect for the opponent in this election, primarily on the GOP side, although the Dems haven’t really started campaigning yet, so we’ll see how this goes. I get that the GOP candidates don’t agree with Obama. I get that they probably don’t like him a whole hell of a lot, either. But the disrespect they seem to have for him is kind of staggering.

Look, I’m not perfect. I have belittled various elected officials, often including Mr. Santorum, quite frequently. But language reflects position. I’m a twentysomething college kid living in her parents’ basement and working a minimum-wage job at a Stop ‘n Rob, and I admit that I could stand to clean up my language from time to time. I’m also not running for the highest elected office in this country. I am not positioning myself to be one of the most powerful people in the world.  Mr. Santorum is, and it’s time he started behaving like it. November’s not going to get any further away.

In other news…

> Saudi Arabia is arming the Syrian opposition. There’s no way this can possibly end badly. Foreign Policy notes:

Referring to the bloodshed, [King Abdullah] ominously warned Medvedev that Saudi Arabia “will never abandon its religious and moral obligations towards what’s happening.” The last time the Saudis decided they had a moral obligation to scuttle Russian policies, they gave birth to a generation of jihadi fighters in Afghanistan who are still wreaking havoc three decades later.

> Iran has called nuclear arms production “a great sin” while refusing to allow inspectors into military facilities linked with its nuclear program? Does this seem inconsistent to anyone else? Good, it’s not just me then.  (I would note, in point of interest, that the spokesperson quoted by The New York Times is Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, whom I seem to recall reading is one of the cooler heads in the upper echelons of the Iranian government.) Also, Iran won an Oscar! Read the spin  here.

> Speaking of which, Israel has allegedly made it quite clear to US officials during upper-level talks that it will not be giving the US a heads-up should Israel launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.

…you know what, it’s cool. I was sleeping too well at night anyway.

> The British Treasury has ordered Barclays Bank to pay 500 million pounds in “aggressively avoided” taxes.

> Speaking of staggering sums of money, Google is offering prizes totaling a million dollars to hackers who, uh, exploit Chrome at a conference next week.

“While we’re proud of Chrome’s leading track record in past competitions, the fact is that not receiving exploits means that it’s harder to learn and improve,” wrote Chris Evans and Justin Schuh, members of the Google Chrome security team. “To maximize our chances of receiving exploits this year, we’ve upped the ante. We will directly sponsor up to $1 million worth of rewards.”

> So you know that thing where gay people who want to celebrate their love and commit to each other for the rest of their lives can do so legally in New Hampshire? Yeah, it might be going away. Well, probably not. But. Maybe.

> In good news (I TRY, OKAY), NPR has announced that it’s abandoning its “he said/she said” policy of fairness in favor of “fairness to the truth.”

At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources. So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth. If our sources try to mislead us or put a false spin on the information they give us, we tell our audience. If the balance of evidence in a matter of controversy weighs heavily on one side, we acknowledge it in our reports. We strive to give our audience confidence that all sides have been considered and represented fairly.

There’s a “truthiness” joke in there somewhere, but this is actually kind of awesome, so I’m going to let it go.

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Written by whackanarwhal

February 28, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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