Saturday, June 27, 2009

Illicit Sex and Death Drive Iran Follies Off Media Map, Bollyn, Driftglass & Driving Me Crazy

We didn't really need another lesson in the truism that sex (and the death of celebrities) has the power to knock real news off the towers, but this week should have really increased our awareness of that reality. The CIA/Mossad-inspired coup coming to Iran has not been displaced totally yet by the media saturation of the latest excitement events, but it sure seems like it. Within the space of just days, Jacko dies from what was either some type of drug-induced mistake or quackery (if he had a heart condition that required monitoring), Farrah dies after a heroic fight against anal cancer for years (with all the bad-taste joking about her ex-boyfriend offering finally to marry her the day before she passed) and Ed McMahon expired previously at 86 (after a life lived in the shadows of true greatness) and was only exposed to intense public view when he had embarrassing financial problems right before he died. And then there's the Argentinian hegira of that love-starved, unbalanced, but totally reelectable (in S.C.) Clenis impeachment voter Mark Sanford, the seeming John Edwards twin currently holding the Governor's seat in South Carolina, who until that fateful day was still being touted nationally as the next upright GOP Presidential candidate. (And you gotta admit, he fits right in with his GOPredecessors/predators.) Do you think anyone remembers that the Iranian election hoo-rah was only a made-for-American-TV event? Nope. Me neither. Paul Krugman (who is one of my favorite observers of the commonplace as well as the positing of sophisticated economic reasoning) explains the mindset of the right-wing viewers about their properly selected officials having illicit sex not being as bad a fault with them as you might have thought (if you're a "liberal"). It doesn't comfort me, however you explain it, that the ignorant get to call the game in their favor for what I'd consider to be selfish reasons. I don't care that they are doing "God's work" (whatever that may be), just that it's a little bit too obviously self-serving, rather like having your cake and eating it too. In moments of reflection I sometimes am left considering that it might be worth taking up fundie religion just to get that neverending forgiveness.

Sex and the married politician I think Joe Conason get(s) this wrong:

If they looked honestly at themselves, religious conservatives might notice that they are morally lax, socially permissive and casually tolerant of moral deviancy — just like the liberals they despise.

Yes, conservatives sin just as much as liberals. But they aren’t “socially permissive and casually tolerant” — at least not in the same way that liberals are. First of all, there’s a difference in what bothers them. When a liberal politician engages in sexual betrayal, what bothers his erstwhile supporters is the betrayal. When a conservative politician does it, what bothers the supporters is the sex. And after watching a series of scandals unfold, I’ve come to the conclusion that the liberal reaction — that the hypocrisy of the moralizers undermines their cause — just doesn’t come to grips with the conservative worldview. From their point of view the cause, the need to police what people do in bed, is, by definition, right, because it’s literally God-given. So the fact that some of those trying to police what other people do in bed are themselves doing nasty things does not reflect on the cause itself — on the contrary, it shows just how necessary more bed-snooping is. It’s also notable that conservatives are, in practice, more forgiving of their politicians’ sins than liberals. John Edwards and Eliot Spitzer ended their political careers; Ensign and Vitter are still in the Senate, and Newt Gingrich is out there on the Sunday shows, speaking for the GOP. Why? Because where liberals see gross hypocrisy, conservatives see men doing the Lord’s work — which partially excuses their own failings. Liberals think that a man who has an affair is worse if he preaches moral values; conservatives think he’s better. You might say that as they see it, if he interferes with what enough other people do in bed, it doesn’t matter what he does himself. So left is left and right is right, and never the twain shall meet.

And since I love to tout Paul's clear thinking, here's a keeper on climate change:
One of the favorite arguments of climate-change deniers is “but it was warmer in the late 90s.” In fact, the odds are good that I’ll get that argument from George Will on This Weak tomorrow. I basically know the answer: temperature is a noisy time series, so if you pick and choose your dates over a short time span you can usually make whatever case you want. That’s why you need to look at longer trends and do some statistical analysis. But I thought that it would be a good thing to look at the data myself.

So here’s average annual global temperature since 1880, shown as .01 degrees C deviation from the 1951-80 average.

Take a look at that chart. No doubt about it. We are headed for disaster, but don't worry, it'll happen to our grandchildren's grandchildren who will write the history of our selfish, smart-assed generation with an overwhelming fatal sadness. Christopher Bollyn addresses present concerns (chiming in about Chicago politics echoing almost precisely my mentor Driftglass) with why Obama does nothing (well, almost nothing) that Bush and Cheney wouldn't have done regarding a number of issues that folks thought they voted to change. The Valerie Plame suit comes so easily to mind - and the reasons they give for not objecting to the Supremes condescension to the rule of law is mind-boggling. And on a personal note, one of the things that drives me absolutely crazy is watching all the young (largely know-nothing) beautifully-coiffed/dressed people who have hooked their dreams of success into spouting the lies of Faux Snooze and its look(sound)-alikes. Don't they know that there is a moral choice involved here? Or have the greedsters won so completely that young people actually believe there are few other choices (or are just not bothered by any type of morality considerations at all)? I guess I'm particularly put out because I had to make this choice early in my career and it wasn't a hard choice at all (and it's led me to stop watching those programs, which are not only not news anymore, but are so full of themselves and Murdoch's lies that I will never watch them again). Please forgive my forgetfulness, but I meant to give you the link to Bill Moyers' stellar interview with Robert Reich which happened last week. (He had the poet W.S. Merwin on last night which was also stellar but in another galaxy.) If you want an informed discussion about the healthcare Nightmare on Capitol Hill, you can't do better than listen (or read the transcript) to this one.

Happy almost Fourth of July (and a special note of the anniversary of my beloved Dad's birthday (who passed away in 1990)). Suzan ____________________


darkblack said...

In his own way, Obama is as much a corporatist candidate as Bush...The point of departure for governing strategies is merely a degree of perception - assumed omnipotence vs. assumed competence, yet both administrations operate under the knowledge that they could act as they please with very little in the way of consequences levied upon them.

Disappointing, but I console myself with the hard knowledge that no politician has ever made a promise that they felt couldn't be broken. Cynicism is my savior.
Unlikely that Obama will disrupt the desired status quo until some competition for the public's affections raises up and forces some desperate misdirec- er, bold public initiatives.


Suzan said...

Agreed, DB, but prolly much worse in scope.

And they have, so far.

both administrations operate under the knowledge that they could act as they please with very little in the way of consequences levied upon them.

Which will only be discontinued if the citizenry says "STOP!"

Then the trials can begin.

Cynicism is my savior.

But not much of one, huh?

And we've already seen the bold public initiative(s), haven't we?

It was the campaign.