Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Death Becomes Him

George Clooney had two movies released late last year that featured him as a star (“The Descendants”) and as director, writer, and star (“The Ides of March”). I enjoyed both of them, and was pulling for Mr. Clooney to win an Oscar for “The Descendants.”

Both of the films used the death of a main character to focus our attention. “The Descendants” featured the death of a family member. “The Ides of March” featured the death of a political aide. In both cases, the personal nature and depth of emotion associated with the tragedy caused us to become more involved with the story.

A different aspect of death is being played out in our war in Afghanistan. Here, death is political.

We’ve seen this before. In Vietnam, our national issue wasn’t how to win the conflict. It was how to use the war to increase the political power of President Johnson. Our soldiers followed Rules of Engagement that were designed to enhance a political narrative, and it was not pleasant.

Some of America’s finest ended up dying for political correctness.

I would imagine members of our armed services in Afghanistan are coming to a similar understanding. They are not charged with winning a conflict. Rather, they are engaged in a timed withdrawal designed to enhance the political authority of President Obama.

In Afghanistan, political opportunism is dominant in an arena where death is a player. The alleged rampage of Staff Sergeant Robert Bales reminds us of William Calley and the My Lai Massacre of 1968. It might also remind us of soldiers of the United Nations acting as “Peacekeepers.”

Military forces work well when they are engaged in traditional military operations. When their task is to create a favorable narrative for politicians, they often fail, and death is the byproduct.

Inadvertent Koran burning, along with the alleged acts of Sgt. Bales, increased the political power of Afghan President Karzai. The deaths of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki (along with his son, a 16-year-old teenager born in Denver) enhanced the political power of President Obama.

For each political leader, you might say, “Death becomes him.”

The culture of Afghanistan expresses approval with violent demonstrations. Our culture expresses approval with a vapid lightness.

It would be good if that were not the case.

Return to Top

Return to Bottom

Friday, March 9, 2012


Condoleezza Rice, Laura Ingraham, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Malkin

The four women pictured above are leadership figures. One is a former Secretary of State. One is a talk radio host and television commentator. One is a former Governor. One is a new media entrepreneur.

Each of them has been characterized as a “slut” (or worse), and the language of each verbal attack is acceptable because the women are Republicans.

Michelle Malkin - who just launched twitchy.com - has a roundup of some of the comments. It is not pretty.

Why is this remarkable? It’s because our culture exhibits no outrage over attacks on Republican women.

Bill Maher, in particular, is celebrated! He is a comedian, and Americans consider his characterizations of Republican women “funny.” He makes a comfortable living promoting these conventionally accepted views.

With that background, please take note of the furor created by Rush Limbaugh last week. On his radio show, he parodied a young woman who appeared in a Democratic Party press conference.

Sandra Fluke, an unmarried 30-year old law student at Georgetown University, claimed to require help paying for her $1,000 per year contraception needs.

A typical woman might spend $100 per year on contraception products. Ms. Fluke claimed in the press conference that she needed ten times that amount. Mr. Limbaugh used his radio program to taunt her as being either a “slut” or a “prostitute.”

Cue the outrage!

We can assume that Ms. Fluke is not deriving income from her sexual practices, and therefore the word “promiscuous” might be more appropriate in describing her behavior.

Regardless, the parody stoked our cultural outrage. Mr. Limbaugh found that some of his advertisers (in a show of displeasure) terminated their spots on his show. In addition, the President of the United States called Ms. Fluke to encourage her to stand firm.

It was a spectacle.

Stepping back for a moment, consider whether this differential treatment of women is an instance of liberal bias. Does that characterization seem accurate?

As you might imagine, I believe the use of the term “liberal bias” dramatically understates the phenomenon we are witnessing.

I know, “Just keep moving. There is nothing to see here.”

UPDATE 3/11/2012:
Here is the collective view of Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan.  A quote that stands out:

This isn't political. While we disagree with Limbaugh's politics, what's at stake is the fallout of a society tolerating toxic, hate-inciting speech.
The idea that their intolerance is what is necessary to correct Republican shortcomings is what should cause concern.

Return to Top

Return to Bottom

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Photo of Andrew Breitbart by Kathy Willens/Associated Press

This post is made with a sense of bitterness and sorrow…

How do you know when your actions are a success? A clear indicator is when you achieve the desired results.

With that in mind, the leadership of the Democratic Party must be celebrating today. They have worked tirelessly to instill Americans with a sense of hatred for Republicans and it is paying off.

A few months ago, I pointed out the specific efforts of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). Here’s a summation of their past characterizations:

And so, Republicans are killers. They cheer executions, favor dirty air and water, and enjoy letting the uninsured die. Republicans are homophobic and are without sympathy for victims of floods, wildfires and hurricanes. Republicans are callous and insensitive, and are bent on keeping students, working Americans and minorities from voting.
More recent efforts by the DSCC describe Republicans as being committed to stopping birth control for young women in America. Here’s what the DSCC is saying:

--So if you’ve had it with Republican attacks on women’s health and our basic freedoms, remember: You have the power to stop them. (Dick Durbin)

--This GOP circus isn’t over yet, but you can bet on this: the nominee will be an extremist and out of touch. He will oppose birth control. He will give tax breaks to multibillionaires. (Patty Murray)

--And we know what these Republicans want. A nation where it’s hard to get preventative care, but easy to lose your health coverage. Where we put the rights of big polluters above the rights of women. (John Kerry)

--These guys are dangerous. They will do anything to win – whether it’s waging war on women or imploding our economy. (James Carville)

We see the repetitive theme that Republicans are bad people. Do the efforts bear fruit?

Apparently so.

The Daily Kos published a column last week by a contributor named “Troubadour” that tells us what to think of Republicans. The post is titled, “Murdering, Lying, Thieving, Rat-F*** Republican Pieces of Sub-Amphibian Sh**…”. It concludes with this paragraph:

Republicans, you vile, repulsive, scum. You're not leading this country. You're not contributing to this country. You're not even part of this country. You are the maggot-ridden rot that arises in this country's damaged flesh; you are the vultures constantly picking at us to see if we're weak enough yet to become your next meal; you create problems where none would otherwise exist, just to further weaken America and quicken your own insatiable appetites; you are garbage, and you are traitors. And you are not welcome in this country anymore.
If you look at the comments, you will see that the Daily Kos readership approves of Troubadour’s remarks by a ratio of more than twenty to one.

And here is further validation:

Andrew Breitbart died last night, and sentiments from the Democratic Party are pouring in. Charlie Spiering of Beltway Confidential in the Washington Examiner provides a compilation of Twitter comments. Note the frequent use of allusions to Adolph Hitler.

What must that feel like in the Democratic Party leadership? When you successfully teach people to hate, do you feel pride? Do you feel powerful?

Millions of Americans are learning to hate. The Democratic Party must feel validated.

Return to Top

Return to Bottom