Come a lot

While channel surfing the other night, I caught a minute or two of an interview on Rock Center with a woman who, as a 19-year-old white house intern in the early 60s, became one of JFK’s sex toys for a while.  The segment was prefaced with a warning from news mannequin Brian Williams to the effect that the story we’re about to hear may be shocking to some viewers (presumably those who still believe in the Camelot fairy tale).  (By the way, how many hours did Brian Williams have to practice that earnest frown before it was ready for prime time?)  I had next to no interest in hearing an older woman’s rueful recollections of being boned by the man whose most noteworthy accomplishment as president was fucking lots of women–well, that and getting his head blown off–so I kept going, returning a few minutes later, just as Chris Matthews and two other court historians appeared like the cleaning service hired by the local peep show joint to mop all the sticky shit off the floor.  They reassured us that while this may have been a tawdry affair, JFK was a complicated man and it shouldn’t tarnish all of the good things he did as president (like make some vague gestures towards civil rights legislation and…some other stuff).  In other words, we should continue to think about JFK the way we’ve always been told to think about JFK.

Fucking and Killing

Not long after this story initially broke, we had some family over for dinner and the subject was brought up.  There was much agreement about what a disgrace it was, and then one person said, “They should all be fired and replaced with veterans returning from overseas.”  I love how it’s a “scandal” that a bunch of dudes on business—oh, but it’s official government business of the utmost importance, and our tax money!—in a foreign country hired women for sex.  I mean, who ever heard of such a thing?!  Seriously, it strains all credulity to think that any grown person, even an American, could in any way be shocked by this.  Meanwhile, of course, the ongoing slaughter of children with remote control airplanes elicits not a peep of (for-public-consumption) outrage from our illustrious elected idiots and the media organs that serve them.  And best of all, we get to watch Joe Lieberman, the man who gets a hard on just thinking about dropping bombs on people in sandy, faraway places, play arbiter of good taste and proper moral conduct.   Americans can spill all the blood they want.  But as soon as they start spilling semen, look out—heads are gonna roll!

Accused killer rescued kittens, helped old ladies across the street, neighbors say

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the media has been working overtime to make excuses and drum up sympathy for our fallen hero, who must have been driven to this aberrant act by something other than just a total disregard for the lives of the people he murdered.  The good guys just don’t do this type of thing, not without a good reason anyway.

Just check out this list of headlines from over the weekend:

Afghan shooting spree: soldier’s revenge for wounded colleague?

Soldier accused in Afghanistan shooting recalled in Ohio city as genial, smart football star

Soldier accused in Afghanistan massacre is family man, reports say

Army sergeant accused of Afghan killings struggled to pay bills, passed over for promotion

My favorite has got to be the last one.  Willy Loman with an M-16.  There were a couple of mentions, almost in passing, of an assault on a girlfriend and an arrest for fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run.  Something tells me that if he had shot up his own base or climbed a bell tower at a university back in Washington State and started picking off co-eds, we’d be hearing a lot more about these warning signs of anti-social behavior and a lot less about how he was just a family man struggling to make ends meet.

A Very Rare Occurrence

So far, authorities have no possible motive for the killings, Bowman says, but he emphasizes that the intentional killing of civilians by U.S. soldiers has been very rare in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’ve seen some instances over the years of crimes being committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq with maybe a handful of civilians dead, but nothing of this magnitude,” Bowman says.

“Bowman” is Pentagon spokesman Tom Bowman.  Sorry, make that NPR’s Pentagon correspondent.

Interesting how when a lone soldier, or group of soldiers, takes it upon himself to massacre half a village, it’s described as “intentional killing of civilians” and a “crime,” whereas when a remote control airplane fires a missile into a civilian area and kills a bunch of, ah, civilians, it’s an accident.  How unfair.  Maybe the guy heard there were “insurgents” operating in the village and took a little initiative, you know, instead of waiting around for the drones to do it for him.

That’s a mighty impressive precision rifle you’ve got there, Sgt. Johnson

Echoing IOZ (echoing Rob Payne, here), I have to laugh at the hilariously backwards-ass notion of decorum on display from our intrepid news media.  It’s one thing to kill a bunch of guys, and it’s another to pee on them.  But to show the soldiers’ penises?(*)  Why, that would be offensive!

My favorite bit, from the USA Today article quoted by Payne:

In the video, four men wearing what appear to be Marine combat uniforms are seen standing around three dead bodies, quietly talking and joking as the camera rolls. They are equipped with chest rigs, grenades, body armor and some specialized gear. One is holding a precision rifle.

Yes, a bunch of dudes standing over a pile of dead bodies with their dicks in their hands, and the most noteworthy aspect of the image is their gear?  What is this, a feature for Soldier of Fortune Magazine?  IOZ is right, there aren’t enough LOLs in the universe to do this justice.

(*Sorry, the “alleged” penises of “what appear to be” US soldiers.)

In which Pakastani general assures de facto US state media outlet that he has no qualms about killing “terrorists”

Malik insists he has no orders to go easy on the network.

“As a military commander, let me assure you, I have no orders to spare anybody, and I don’t spare anybody,” he says.

But when asked if his troops are specifically targeting the Haqqani network, Malik says: “We don’t specifically target anybody. You see, there’s no such thing as a good terrorist and a bad terrorist.

“Anybody who challenges the writ of the state, or who is working against the interest of Pakistan, we target them.”

Malik never quite says he is or is not targeting the Haqqani network.

“I don’t give names to the terrorists, you know,” he says. “I don’t differentiate. My issue is I ask questions later, I shoot first. … We target them very, very indiscriminate, if I may say so.”

Listening to this on the way in to work yesterday, I couldn’t help thinking that Steve Inskeep was auditioning for a job at Hillary’s State Dept.  His tone was all like: “Well, are you gonna kill these Haqqanis or what?  Huh?  I can’t hear you!”

Conservatives like to rip NPR as though it’s some sort of bastion of “socialism” in the heart of freedom’s land.  This is your typical Hannityesque critique of the “librool media” pushing its insidious, American character-eroding pro-government agenda.  As usual, they’re only half right.  They’ve got the pro-government part correct, but the “liberal” bugaboo is nowhere to be found.

Truth in Advertising

The local NPR affiliate in Philly, WHYY, is in the midst of one of its annual pledge drives, and this morning its main pitch man, a pompous twit whose affected highbrow manner of speaking arouses a powerful urge to drag him to the nearest high school and stuff him in a locker (after dumping his backpack and stealing his lunch money, of course) was going on about how “you, the listener” are responsible for financing the station and how they’re able to bring us the high-quality programming they do because they’re not beholden to the commercial interests that other stations are.

Then, I swear less than two minutes later, the other pitch person said something about how they’re probably going to get less money from the federal government (not a “commercial” interest, true, but certainly a pretty big interest nevertheless, wouldn’t you say?) this year, so listener pledges are even more important than usual; and this was followed by a spot for a local hospital that specializes in cancer care.  So, for shits and giggles, I went onto the station’s website and, sure enough, there’s a page dedicated entirely to soliciting corporate “underwriters.”

Well, gee whiz, and all along I was wondering why their programming is basically no different than the so-called commercial media outlets.

The Human Rights Hoax

Every time a US president visits his Chinese counterpart, or vice versa, there’s always the same tired chatter in the media about “human rights,” as in: “President Red White & Blue is expected to give a stern talking-to to President Red over his country’s human rights violations.”  Alas, this time is no different:

The formal White House arrival ceremony – the 21-gun salute is reserved solely for visiting heads of state — was a display of pomp and circumstance that stood in stark contrast with the tough rhetoric the Obama administration is employing in its relationship with China on issues from trade to currency and human rights.

And indeed, Mr. Obama did not entirely abandon that rhetoric Wednesday morning. After promoting the virtues of Chinese and American cooperation, the president – the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize – used the ceremony to deliver a gentle reminder to China, which is holding the 2010 winner of the prize, Liu Xiaobo, as a political prisoner.

“We also know this,’’ the president said: “History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being.’’

Ooh, boy.  Watch out for that “tough rhetoric”!  Of course, Hu could just as well have lectured Obama, and Shrub before him, about the human rights violations committed around the world by the United States on a daily basis, otherwise known as US foreign policy, but apparently Chinese politicians don’t have quite the same appetite for hypocrisy that American ones do.  Not to mention that if Obama were really concerned about “the universal rights of every human being,” he might give a little shout-out to, in addition to the political prisoner du jour, the virtual slaves who toil their lives away in Chinese factories so Americans can stay awash in cheap consumer goods.

You don’t mind if I borrow that Predator Drone for a second, do you?

The BBC questions the efficacy of the US government’s use of unmanned aircraft to kill “militants” in the tribal regions of Pakistan (by the way, in case you didn’t know, this is a secret war)—essentially, Are the drones effective in hitting their “targets,” or do they kill too many “civilians” (thereby undermining the policy by providing a free recruiting tool for the Taliban)?  This is accompanied by some dubious figures and claims by US govt spokesdrones about, respectively, the number of non-militants killed and the accuracy of these weapons.  Nowhere, though, does the article question the legitimacy of the policy itself.  Nowhere does it ask: Why is the US shooting missiles from remote control airplanes at people who couldn’t possibly be any threat to the United States?  About as close as it comes to asking that question is when it quotes an “expert on militancy in northwest Pakistan”:

“How many people do you want to kill to get Osama Bin Laden?” he asks.

“How many common militants who may not have done much harm to the US or its allies do you want to kill to get Dr [Ayman] al-Zawahiri [Bin Laden's deputy]? That is the question.”

Of course, he hedges a bit with that “may not have done much harm” and by granting that all of this has anything to do with killing Bin Laden or his “deputies.”  Add to that a little grousing by Pakistani officials about violations of their sovereignty, and what you have, all in all, is a tepid and largely unnoteworthy “critique” of the GWOT, South Asia edition.

Except for this little nugget tucked in at the end:

What Pakistan says it wants is for the drone strikes to continue, but under its ownership, not that of the US.

“The US should just give us the technology,” says Rehman Malik. “If we do it ourselves, Pakistanis won’t mind.”

Ah, yes: Let us have a turn playing with the big shiny toy.  The Pakistani people won’t mind so much if we’re the ones killing them.

This is a pretty good illustration of the idea that when it comes to disputes between rival governments, or even negotiations between supposed allies, you can rest assured that, no matter the outcome, the people on both sides (or in the middle) are going to get the shaft.

The Drive-By Media

I caught this interview the other day on NPR, and this particular question by interviewer Melissa Block jumped out at me (from the transcript):

BLOCK: I wonder, Governor Barbour, if this oil gusher is testing your political philosophy in any way. You and many of your fellow Republicans champion smaller government, less regulation, more freedom for industry. Do you think maybe there is a role looking at what’s happened in the Gulf for robust intervention for regulation?

Now Barbour’s pat response that more regulation doesn’t necessarily mean better regulation, and that equating the two is “suspect,” and, further, that the “market system” will work it all out is suspect itself, considering that the market system is rigged, by the very regulations that are supposed to govern it, in order to shield companies like BP from having to pay the full costs of their reckless behavior.

But nevermind all that.  The thing that occurred to me when I heard this is that you’d never hear NPR, or any other major news outlet, ask a proponent of more regulation whether the oil spill is testing their philosophy.  Can you imagine Melissa Block asking such a question to, say, Chuck Schumer?

BLOCK: I wonder, Senator Schumer, if this oil gusher is testing your political philosophy in any way. You and many of your fellow Democrats champion bigger government and more robust regulation. Do you think maybe there is a role looking at what’s happened in the Gulf for less government intervention?

You can rest assured it will never happen.

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