Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Mashup (10/22/10)

  • The roaring controversy in the wingnutosphere at this moment has to do with the firing of former NPR commentator Juan Williams for comments about being nervous when seeing Muslims on a plane, or something.

    I’ll tell you what – here is a bunch of Media Matters links on the whole dustup (I’ll comment merely on particular lowlights in a moment).

    First, though (and probably the only reason why I’m saying anything about this at all), I should note that Christine Flowers dutifully piled on today in the Philadelphia Daily News today (here), telling us the following…

    Sure, it's not the politically correct thing to say that overtly religious Muslims make you uncomfortable when you're holding a boarding pass at the airport.

    But neither is admitting, as Jesse Jackson once did, that "There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery - then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

    Or telling a buxom Latina journalist that it's not a good idea to show her puppies in a men's locker room.
    Putting aside the fact that the situation with reporter Inez Sainz being subjected to remarks by members of the New York Jets (here) has nothing to do with the Williams case, I would only ask, dear reader, how you would react if, in the process of posting about anything at all, I referred to a portion of the female anatomy as “puppies.”

    Also, as you can gather from a brief read of the Media Matters links posted above, Williams had a history of making controversial remarks as he danced along that proverbial razor’s edge while defending Democrats and, at the very least, sitting mute while they are pilloried, including drawing an association between Michelle Obama and Stokely Carmichael (also, Williams questioned a priest in Arizona about that state’s “papers, please” law and asked, “Is this about keeping Hispanics in the pews?”).

    No. It’s about simple human decency and the presumption of innocence to which we all should be entitled.

    And for all of the conservative umbrage over NPR supposedly stilling the voices of conservatives, I give you this (Matthew Continetti is a regular NPR contributor…also, as noted here - #2 - NPR’s Mara Liasson regularly appears on Fix Noise).

    Finally, Flowers in the Daily News today also said the following…

    Reporting is different. You simply do what the guy on "Dragnet" said: Just the facts, ma'am. But Williams wasn't hired to be a reporter at NPR.
    No, but do you know who was hired to be a reporter (and did so very well at the Washington Post)? Dave Weigel, that’s who.

    As noted here, Weigel covered conservatives and related developments for the WaPo, until Tucker Carlson got ahold of some of Weigel’s Email on a listserv that was supposed to be private and made the messages public (they cast some conservatives in an unflattering light, shall we way). And of course, as a result, Weigel was more or less forced to resign (again, though, none of these comments found their way into Weigel’s stories).

    And fortunately for both him and Williams, they both ended up landing other jobs after the dust settled (and Weigel had nothing on Williams when it came to remarks that were potentially offensive to his audience).

    Also, on the matter of conservatives “trying to cut NPR’s funding” (here), I would ask that they read this.

    Yet again (on this and every other issue), conservatives look into a mirror and see the warts-and-all reflections of everyone but themselves.

  • Update 10/23/10: Not surprisingly, Rachel Maddow cuts through all the nonsense on the Williams matter here.

  • Also, The Dean Of Beltway Journalism concocted some truly ripe material yesterday (here, spending what I guess were halcyon days at something called the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics)…

    From my seat, I was looking directly at the large photo mural of former senator Dole and his frequent partner, Rep. Gerald Ford of Michigan, the House minority leader.

    One of them -- Ford -- achieved the presidency only briefly, when Richard Nixon was forced to resign. The other -- Dole -- failed each time he ran. But no one regards them as political failures, because they realized that victory is counted in more than vote totals. They won the ultimate tests of character for two reasons. They did not sacrifice their political principles. And they acknowledged that they shared the responsibility for making this system of government work.
    OK now, before I say a word, I should express my gratitude to both former President Ford (posthumously) and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole for their military service (we know about Dole’s essentially paralyzed arm, and also, if you ever get the chance, I would suggest reading up on Gerald Ford’s exploits in the South Pacific during World War II…harrowing stuff).

    That being said, I would ask that we dispense with the fantasies about what a nice guy Bob Dole Bob Dole Bob Dole supposedly was and consider the following from here…

  • He won re-election to the U.S. Senate in 1974 by painting his opponent, obstetrician Bill Roy, as pro-abortion (flyers with photos of fetuses in trash can were placed on cars in Catholic neighborhoods right before the vote, though Dole claimed no knowledge).

  • Dole received tons of money from booze, gambling and tobacco such as the Gallo Winery family and US Tobacco (I realize that isn’t illegal, but it does damage a bit to Dole’s “family vales” cred).

  • Also, in the “past is prologue” department, Dole received campaign funding from none other than the Koch Brothers, located in Kansas as it turns out, as well as several natural gas companies -- Arco, Amoco, Coastal and Enron -- who enjoyed a special tax break that Dole promoted, even though it hurt Kansas' independent natural gas producers (for the Koch money, Dole helped fight off a Justice Department probe into millions of dollars worth of oil that Koch Industries allegedly stole from Indian-owned wells).

  • Dole also received “hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money, plus dozens of flights on (food giant Archer Daniels Midland) at little or no cost.” In return, ADM received a $3.5 BILLION tax credit for ethanol (54 cents per gallon.) Archer Daniels makes 60% of this ethanol and receives $2 billion directly from this tax credit.
  • Also, the Dole for President campaign ended up yielding this true gem from The Onion (though it wouldn’t be so funny four years later, I know). My personal recollection from the ’96 contest was Dole’s appearances in which a band would play “Hail To The Chief” as he stepped to the podium (if there’s one constant upon which you can always rely, it’s the ego of conservatives).

    Part of me wishes that we truly lived in a political climate where such hazy recollections by Broder and his ilk could ultimately be realized, though most sentient life forms realize that that’s impossible (and by mentioning this, I am primarily trying to point out that Dole was a politician much like any better, and maybe no worse).

    I also think it’s instructive that Broder’s supposed model for “bipartisanship” includes two Republicans and no Democrats.

  • Finally, this New York Times story tells us the following…

    “Breaking New Ground: Presenting the George W. Bush Presidential Center,” an exhibit set to open this weekend on the campus of Southern Methodist University, prominently features the handgun taken from Saddam Hussein and the loudspeaker used to address rescue workers at the World Trade Center in September 2001.

    The choice of mementos, emphasizing some of the more controversial foreign policy aspects of the Bush presidency, has reinvigorated opposition to the center’s presence at the university.

    “It’s the approach they’ve taken all along; it fits their worldview,” said the Rev. William K. McElvaney, a professor emeritus of preaching and worship at the university. “It’s a tragedy for S.M.U. to hitch its star to this.”

    “I hope that a bullhorn will not become the symbol for the entry of the United States into an unjustified war and that a pistol of Saddam Hussein’s is not seen as some strange symbol of victory in that horrendous misjudgment,” said Tex Sample, an elder in the Methodist Church who helped lead the opposition to the Bush Institute’s placement at S.M.U. “That these should be the symbols of the values and commitments of the Bush administration and should now become the face of Southern Methodist University is cause for alarm.”
    And as noted here…

    Anti-war protesters are planning to converge around SMU next month, when formal groundbreaking ceremonies for the George W. Bush presidential library center are expected to draw up to 5,000 visitors to campus.

    The Nov. 16 groundbreaking probably will get considerable national attention, because it comes exactly one week after Bush's memoir, Decision Points, is released.

    The former president, who has made few public appearances since leaving the White House, is expected to break his self-imposed silence about his two terms in office when the book debuts.
    (And speaking of Number 43, I thought this was amusing.)

    Before he was installed into office by the Supreme Court in 2000, George W. Bush’s business career, such as it was, was marked by failed ventures and/or bailouts from deep-pocketed friends while he held ceremonial positions (such as a baseball team owner and a governor of Texas).

    How perversely apropos it would be if the one actual financial success he realized in his life came from his misbegotten and utterly ruinous presidency.
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