Bombing seafaring activists is OK, but try to avoid canine collateral casualties

Tucker Carlson is back in the news again. (Weird, considering he is normally completely uninvolved with real news.) This time, it’s for stating that Philadelphia Eagles QB Michael Vick “should have been executed” for the crime of killing dogs.

A bit harsh? It would seem so, although dogs have been known to inspire fierce loyalty, so Carlson cannot be completely blamed on this front.

That is, of course, except for the fact that he condoned the 1985 bombing of a Greenpeace ship.

On the other hand, like so many good right-wing firebrands these days, at least he knows how to wield the term “terrorism” like the ambiguous free-for-all word that it is (or should I say, has become). I’m assuming, of course, that Carlson is just as outraged over the twice-investigated Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, for his alleged sexual assaults (the latter of which appears more likely to have actually taken place as described by the victim), as he is about Michael Vick and his dog-fighting.


(Incidentally, I believe this post somewhat self-deprecatingly — yet in a self-serving way — vindicates my prior post’s point about the detritus clogging so many online news and blog sites. Guilty as charged.)

The reverse Al Franken

If a former comedian can become a member of Congress, why can’t a current representative become a comedian? At least give Barney Frank credit for trying:

I called Barney Frank, assuming the gay pioneer would be optimistic. He wasn’t. “It’s one thing to have a gay person in the abstract,” he said. “It’s another to see that person as part of a living, breathing couple. How would a gay presidential candidate have a celebratory kiss with his partner after winning the New Hampshire primary? The sight of two women kissing has not been as distressful to people as the sight of two men kissing.”

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, he added, “it’s not clear that a gay president could use federal funds to buy his husband dinner. Would his partner have to pay rent in the White House? There would be no Secret Service protection for the paramour.”

Frank noted that we’ve “clearly had one gay president already, James Buchanan. If I had to pick one, it wouldn’t be him.” (The Atlantic blogger Andrew Sullivan aims higher, citing Abe Lincoln, who sometimes bundled with his military bodyguard in bed when his wife was away.)

Frank said that although most Republicans now acknowledge that sexual orientation is not a choice, they still can’t handle their pols’ coming out. “There are Republicans here who are gay,” he said of Congress, “but as long as they don’t acknowledge it, it’s O.K. Republicans only tolerate you being gay as long as you don’t seem proud of it. You’ve got to be apologetic.”

Transparency: For best results, use only on others

As per today’s New York Times, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had this to say about allegations of sexual wrongdoing: “On Friday, he told the BBC that the case presented in the London courts was ‘a smear attempt,’ and that the impending publication of the Swedish police documents amounted to ‘another smear attempt.'”

This is a bit odd. Julian Assange thinks the publication of, well, something is actually negative. And yet, thanks to him, we are now privy to such pertinent information as the fact that Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi’s ever-present personal nurse is a “voluptuous blonde.” I mean, someone’s got to report on this stuff.

And speaking of odd…um, Joe Lieberman appears to have located his long-lost set of morals. This has been a strange last few days.

OK, on 3, everyone write something about Boehner crying

So this is weird. Between Tuesday and Wednesday of this week (yes, I’m a little behind), at least three different articles surfaced online, all regarding incoming House Speaker John Boehner’s propensity to cry on command. The first was Slate‘s Double X feature, which on Tuesday carried a headline of “Boehner’s Manly Tears” and speculated that “a female politician could never cry like that without being pilloried.” The next day, both Gail Collins (“The Crying Game”) and Timothy Egan (“The Tears of John Boehner”) of The New York Times followed suit, the former noting that “[Hillary] Clinton approached the edge of a sniffle and we are still talking about it” and the latter citing Barbara Walters as having said that “if Nancy Pelosi had been such a serial bawler, she’d never have heard the end of it.”

Seeing a trend here? I will always empathize with Clinton for the way she was treated by the national media during her presidential campaign. But it seems to me that these columnists are all shooting holes in their own arguments. If there’s such an obvious gender gap in terms of expectations for public weeping, then why do Boehner’s tears warrant such microscopic attention?

Let’s all please try to focus on the bright side. Like the fact that John Boehner even can cry through that weird neon-orange mask he’s always wearing.

A specter is haunting Congress — the specter of rational thinking

Just when I thought all hope was lost, a real, live politician in the United States House of Representatives made a reasoned, responsible statement today. I’d almost forgotten that’s what they were there to do. Anyway, it was John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who, in his opening remarks, said the only thing that made sense, which is the following (as found here, with slight edits): Continue reading

I bestow upon thee an A for effort, Mr. Taranto

The Washington Post recently analyzed the results of a poll showing that, even post-election, Americans continue to trust Obama more than the Republican Party. The Post‘s article stated, reasonably: “The poll suggests that the election, while perhaps a vote against the status quo, was not a broad mandate for Republicans and their plans.”

This interpretation did not sit well with The Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto, who countered with the following head-scratcher: “So how is it that the GOP does so badly in the poll? The obvious explanation–well, obvious to everyone except the Post’s reporters–is that the voters did give Republicans a mandate but don’t trust them to carry it out.”

Hm. Taranto, showcasing some vintage righteous indignation here, could not disagree more with the Post‘s claim that the election failed to constitute a Republican mandate. No, he counters, the truth is that the GOP’s House takeover (as well as its gains in the Senate) is due entirely to voter schizophrenia. For someone so obviously troubled by perceived leftist condescension — elsewhere in the same article, he decries “prog[ressive] smugness” — the man really knows how to pander to his conservative base.

In tribute to Taranto’s eternal wisdom, I will now buy a new car that I fully expect not to work.

How dare they block the Times? Oh, and also, what is that…a Facebook page?

Mark Thompson of TIME posted a brief analysis of the Air Force’s ban of major online news sites due to WikiLeaks. In response, one military man felt obliged to stand up on behalf of his fellow servicemen:

Somewhat reassuringly (or terrifyingly), if this man’s comments are any indication, it appears that the ban is having little to no effect on personnel’s reading habits.

The First Amendment has its place, yes. Behind glass in a museum.

On December 7, the U.S. State Department issued a press release through official spokesman P.J. Crowley, announcing that the United States would host the 2011 World Press Freedom Day:

The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from May 1 – May 3 in Washington, D.C…

The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age…

And now today, as reported on the front page of the online edition of The New York Times (“Air Force Limits Access to Web Sites Over Secret Cables”):

The Air Force is barring its personnel from using work computers to view the Web sites of The New York Times and more than 25 other news organizations and blogs that have posted secret cables obtained by WikiLeaks, Air Force officials said on Tuesday.

When Air Force personnel on the service’s computer network try to view the Web sites of The Times, the Guardian of London, Germany’s Der Spiegel, Spain’s El Pais and France’s Le Monde, as well as other sites that posted full confidential cables, the screen says: ”Access Denied: Internet usage is logged and monitored,” according to an Air Force official whose access was blocked and who shared the screen warning with The Times. Violators are warned they faced punishment if they tried to view classified material from unauthorized Web sites.

Freedom of the press is sacrosanct, except when it isn’t. For those keeping track at home, please file this one under “Censorship That Would Never, Under Any Circumstances, Happen in the United States.”