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Rolling Stone Loves Obama!It’s a new year, but one thing hasn’t changed: Rolling Stone still blows. In fact, they’ve always blown. From the day those commie bastards trashed Zeppelin’s first album in a spectacularly ill-conceived and shortsighted take down of a band that was so far beyond Rolling Stone‘s hippie-“man” scope of musical comprehension that only their trying-to-hard, hipper-than-thou-basis-of-all-Pitchfork-reviews-ever-written, review of Led Zeppelin II could make it seem reasonable.

Forty-five years later and little has changed. Their head political writer, Matt Taibbi is an asshole and former comrade of two of the worst “journalists” (if not people) on earth, Mark Ames and Yasha Levine. These three delightful human beings were part of the Russia’s number one expat newsletter, Exiled. Yet even while living in the shadow of a psycho like Putin, minutes from the gloried relics of the worst authoritarian regime in human history, somehow they came back even more convinced of the glories of big governments.

Taibbi has the annoying tendency of correctly identifying the problems plaguing America — corruption, corporate cronyism, the drug war — then blaming it all on lack of government oversight, instead of too much government power.

But at least Taibbi is a well-known author with years of journalistic grunt-work under his belt. He’s written for well-known publications like Men’s Journal, The Nation, New York Press and Playboy. He has enough journalistic bona fides that he has his own link on the Rolling Stone.com banner. His ideas may be rooted in far left territory, he’s done some pavement pounding at least.

Then there’s Jesse A. Myerson, a 2008 graduate of Bard College, (same as Taibbi) where he majored in Theatre and Human Rights. He’s a self described #fullcommunist and the author of “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For”.

(And according to his LinkedIn page has quite the talent for theater, community outreach, performing arts, improvisation and stage.)

Jesse-Myerson-Linkedin

The article is the usual lefty garbage, written in the trying-desperately-to-be-hip, dumbed down, “hey buddy, doesn’t BLANK suck, you know what doesn’t suck? #fullcommunism” popularized by millenials trying to appeal to other millenials.

It’s a new year, but one thing hasn’t changed: The economy still blows. Five years after Wall Street crashed, America’s banker-gamblers have only gotten richer, while huge swaths of the country are still drowning in personal debt, tens of millions of Americans remain unemployed – and the new jobs being created are largely low-wage, sub-contracted, part-time grunt work.

Millennials have been especially hard-hit by the downturn, which is probably why so many people in this generation (like myself) regard capitalism with a level of suspicion that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. But that egalitarian impulse isn’t often accompanied by concrete proposals about how to get out of this catastrophe. Here are a few things we might want to start fighting for, pronto, if we want to grow old in a just, fair society, rather than the economic hellhole our parents have handed us.

It’s the usual. Blame Wall Street, ask for more government, and more free money. It’s a terribly written article, written by an idiot (and theater major). So why are we so worked up about it? Currently sitting at 39 thousand Facebook likes, 2,567 tweets, 287 Google+’s and 7354 comments, this story has consumed the internet so far as to have write-ups and put-downs in prestigious media havens like CNBC,The LA Times, Slate, Washington Post, Business Insider, and Forbes to name a few.

Unfortunately every time the story is mentioned, it only further inflates the numbers and prestige of an article more suited to a .blogspot than a website that gets 60,000,000 monthly page views.

Like Salon and Slate before them, Rolling Stone trots out some nobody with the sole intention of stirring up a bee’s nest of conservative and libertarian mockery, and it works like a charm.

Tremble in fear capitalist dogs! Jesse A. Myerson’s is going to blow you away with his observational communism. Behold his takes on:

  • Unemployment! – “Unemployment blows.”…
  • Jobs! – “Because as much as unemployment blows, so do jobs.” …
  • Landlords! – “Ever noticed how much landlords blow?” …
  • Hoarders! – “Hoarders blow.” …
  • Wall Street! – “You know what else really blows? Wall Street.

And what’s the deal with Republicans? Amiright?!

Congratulations Myerson, you’re the cliched parody of Jerry Seinfeld of communist thought.

Which is why no one in America should care about this article. It’s poorly written and on a subject this man is clearly not qualified to write about, in a magazine that hasn’t produced a relevant thought since the ’60s. It’s okay to ignore these obvious troll attempts, in fact it should be encouraged. Every time the conservative/libertarian outrage machine gets fired up it’s only going to lead to more of the same, namely, lots and lots of page views which begets more advertising revenue which begets more bad writing which begets making celebrity’s out of idiots like Jesse A. Myerson.

(And before you call me out on my own inability to not write about this article, please note that I wouldn’t have written about it if people more powerful than I hadn’t first. Also, we need all the linkbait we can get. Also, I have no convictions.)

roadzThe headline: “Why I fled libertarianism — and became a liberal”.

The subhead: “I was a Ron Paul delegate back in 2008 — now I’m a Democrat. Here’s my personal tale of disgust and self-discovery”.

Edwin Lyngar was a Ron Paul delegate in 2008. Once he got to the GOP convention,  he was baffled by the number of Birthers, Truthers, MoonTruthers and Chemtrailers who apparently made up his fellow Paulbots. (Lyngar also casually equates interest in gold, the Fed, and the JFK assassination with such conspiracy theories. He is not alone in this attitude — the highly-touted conspiracy theory  poll from last spring was similarly sloppy. An enthusiasm for monetary policy is dry, so why not spice it up by implying that to believe in the gold standard is to be sure that the president is from Kenya?)

Lyngar had no libertarian moment of aha!, thanks to a Hayek book, or a Ron Paul speech. He doesn’t really explain why he cared enough to be a delegate for Paul in 2008. He was just vaguely born libertarian, in that he comes from a small town in Nevada where, he writes, “we burned our own garbage and fired guns in the back yard.” He even admits that libertarians are pro-pot, mostly pro-gay, and mostly anti-war, so they have their bright spots still. But also, when he left his small town, his eyes were opened:

I learned that libertarians are made for lots of reasons, like reading the bad fiction of Ayn Rand or perhaps the passable writing of Robert Heinlein. In my experience, most seemed to be poor, white and undereducated. They were contortionists, justifying the excesses of the capitalist elite, despite being victims if libertarian politics succeed.

If you think that selfishness and cruelty are fantastic personal traits, you might be a libertarian. In the movement no one will ever call you an asshole, but rather, say you believe in radical individualism.

Heinlein is only “passable”? Buddy, you read the wrong Heinlein. And if you’re in the libertarian movement, someone will call you an asshole at some point. Or they will call you a statist. Though there are generally agreed upon tenets in libertarianism, there is also tedious in-fighting and minute-to-vital points of disagreement on issues, interpretations, and conclusions. We are not your cheap Dagney Taggart or Randy Weaver jokes, as much as you try to cram us into that convenient mold. We are diverse, and by God, we will shoot ourselves in the foot whenever possible. (Lyngar does acknowledge this incompetence later in the piece, so at least he’s not one of those “dear God, the libertarians have taken over!” folks.)

Lyngar is mostly done with specifics after his live from the GOP Convention ’08 beginning. He changed slowly after his realization that libertarianism indeed attracts weirdos. Soon he was crying for unspecified, but positive reasons when Obama was elected president. And then the financial crisis:

Libertarians were (rightly) furious when our government bailed out the banks, but they fought hardest against help for ordinary Americans. They hated unemployment insurance and reduced school lunches. I used to say similar things, but in such a catastrophic recession isn’t the government supposed to help? Isn’t that the lesson of the Great Depression?

I’m going to give our friend the benefit of the doubt and say, sure, okay, you met three libertarians who were most passionately opposed to school lunches. That was their number one issue, closely followed by the horrors of unemployment insurance. But there are a lot of libertarians who would prefer to tackle the bigger issues first: war, prisons, police, the drug war, financial ruin for the country, occupational licensing, zoning laws, lack of school choice, the death penalty, transportation, whatever you like. And you would know that if you spoke to more than three libertarians — that no, most of them wouldn’t start with cutting the lunches for shoeless Appalachian children program. They’d probably start with trimming the military, the Department of Homeland Security, or that sentimental favorite, the Drug Enforcement Administration.

(And no, that is not the lesson of the Great Depression. That is not even close to being the lesson of the Great Depression. Suggesting that means you paid no attention to economics even while you were a libertarian, dude.)

Lyngar goes on to marry a Canadian liberal, then be disgusted by the racist Birthers in the Tea Party movement. He lurches towards nuance by implying that libertarians who work with the Tea Party are not necessarily the same thing as those religious freaks, etc. But then he notes that at last he has learned to “care about children — even poor ones.” Thereby separating himself from monstrous libertarians, he writes:

I love the National Park system. The best parts of the America I love are our communities. My libertarian friends might call me a fucking commie (they have) or a pussy, but extreme selfishness is just so isolating and cruel. Libertarianism is unnatural, and the size of the federal government is almost irrelevant. The real question is: what does society need and how do we pay for it?

To paraphrase the best French guy ever, Frederic Bastiat, man, liberals really seem to think that if you’re not for government funded, or government-run institutions, you must be against them entirely. Parks are awesome. Some parks also have a long history of hilariously-arrogant mismanagement by government. And it’s cool that you love communities. That means literally nothing in general, and nothing specific to libertarianism. Most of us do not wish to live alone, Unibomber-style. But we’re very keen on anyone’s right to do the best they can at achieving that sort of lifestyle.

The best part of the piece — the part that elevates it to an artful act of trolling — might be the very end. Old Ed says of libertarians: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” That quote, and its accompanying viewpoint, is common in libertarianism. It sounds arrogant, but it’s the evangelizing of a fringe belief that is forever trying to gain converts. How else do you change minds except by convincing someone they are mistaken? And it is no different than liberals who shake their heads at all those folks who “vote against their own interests” — meaning, not for Democrats. To them, libertarians, if they’re not cold, rich, Randian cutouts, they are stupidly opposed to the communitarian pleasures of the left that could benefit them so much.

We’re all snobs when we’re in our own Google Groups, bars, or political rallies. There’s nothing wrong with reveling in “yes, totally! That!” for an evening. But the folks at Salon have the ideological privilege of not ever needing to convert libertarians to their viewpoints. Liberals often treat every conservative victory (one which with libertarians may or may not agree) as an assurance that the barbarians are at the gates. Mentions cuts, and there is nothing between that and Somalia. Liberals refuse to believe that their view of the proper role of government has been a dominant one for decades. They suffer from being The Man denial.

So then, what is the the point of this piece? Optimistically, we could say it could help prove to Salon readers that all libertarians aren’t monsters. Why, there’s always the hope that they will change their evil ways! But it’s more banal than that. This intensely shallow piece is solely an exercise in back-patting. It’s one man’s courageous story of being saved from the darkness of everything Not Liberal, without even the drama of a road to Damascus moment. It’s just that the election of Obama, and the worst of the Tea Party eventually took him on a self-satisfied journey away from conspiratorial meanies to the safe ” bosom of conventional liberalism.” He finally “developed [his] own values.” But a vague sense that libertarianism by nature is cold, cruel, and crazy is not an analysis of an ideology.

Some libertarians choose to interpret the recent cascade of anti-libertarian pieces on Alternet, Salon, and NSFWCorp the last few months as proof that the philosophy is getting somewhere — it can no longer be ignored by the mainstream. But Lyndar’s piece confirms lazy liberal dominance, because why try? Why fight libertarian beliefs, when you can simply revel in having beaten their imaged end-game, as Alternet did recently, — Libertopia apparently outlaws feeding or clothing the homeless! — or simply rejoice in having banished its evil from your own mind, as Lyndar does here.

imagine-a-world-without-DCAn ass sits where an Abe once sat.

The year is 20whatever and a nuclear sunset falls over the once glorious Capital built on the backs of the taxpayers of the land once known as North America. A young boy, sick from lack of universal health care and a withered man without unemployment compensation stumble towards the great phallic symbol of the United States. Now broken and crumbling, it signifies the end of the American empire, metaphorically. The boy and his father won’t survive the winter, even though the ice caps have all melted and global warming has increased average winter temperatures to a balmy 70 degrees.

“What is this place?” the boy inquired.

“My son, we are in what is called a ‘parable,'” the father replied solemnly. “It’s an instructive story that illustrates lessons and principles to the reader through analogies and metaphors. It’s a way for people who believe they are intelligent and witty to dumb down complex ideas to a straightforward manner so that morons can easily understand the point the writer is trying to make.”

“I don’t understand any of the things you just said, dad,” the boy said, staring down at what was at one time a road, but now was just a metaphor for a budget impasse that was never solved. “I grew up in a time without the Department of Education, remember?”

“Son, for the last time, that’s not an excuse. You can still learn things without government.”

“I’m a victim of bad character development, Dad, lay off.”

In the distance a loud kerfuffle could be heard. The dad grabbed his son and dove behind a dilapidated park bench.

“What is that?” the son whispered as a group of Mad Max-inspired bikers rode by.

“Those, my son, are dystopian cliches, and they are everywhere in poorly-written parables like this one.”

The father reached into his pocket and carefully unfolded a yellowed and torn piece of paper. At the top, the words Welcome to Ted Cruz’s Thunderdome, by Maureen Dowd, were written in faded black ink.

“This is the bullshit world in which we live.”

The father scanned the writings that he had read countless times.

An ape sits where Abe sat.

“That’s a reference to Planet of the Apes,” the father said as he counted out the number of obvious dystopian references that Dowd had packed into her parable. “It doesn’t make any sense in this context, but no piece of bad dystopian writing would be complete without at least a reference.”

Tea Party zombies, thrilled with the dark destruction they have wreaked on the planet, continue to maraud around the Hill, eager to chomp on humanity some more.

“Zombies, always a necessary detail in a dystopian cliche. They represent the breakdown of society and a government unable to protect its people from themselves.” [or sometimes just consumerism, OMG MALLS)

Unlike Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games,” where the capital thrived as the nation withered, here, the capital withered first, as the federal city shriveled without federal funds. But, in other ways, it mirrors the fantasy dystopias depicted by Hollywood and Cormac McCarthy in his novel “The Road,” “bloodcults” consuming one another in “an ashen scabland,” a “cold illucid world.”

“Here’s where Dowd gets lazy, she starts to just name-check popular movies that were adapted from popular books in her time.”

In 2084, there’s little sign of life in the godless and barren lost world. The insurance exchanges are open and the kinks are almost ironed out. But there is no one to sign up. Koch brother drones patrol the skies.A Mad Max motorcycle gang wielding hacksaws roars through the C.I.A., now a field of dead cornstalks, and the fetid hole that was once Michelle Obama’s organic vegetable garden. Will Smith and Brad Pitt are here, hunting aliens and monsters.

“Those are the bikers that just roared through.”

The Navy-Air Force game goes on, somehow, and there are annual CrossFit games on the Mall, led by flesh-eating Dark Seeker Paul Ryan, now 114 years old.

“Dark Seekers, now that’s a reference to the movie I Am Legend.”

“Please stop papa!” the boy cried out in pain. “The writing… it’s just too terrible. None of it makes any sense, except for the glitches in the online health insurance exchanges. Why would the Koch brothers have their own fleet of drones? How are Brad Pitt and Will Smith still alive and how are they the ones fighting aliens and monsters? She knows they’re just actors right? I can’t take any more bad movie references.”

“I’m sorry son, I know it’s hard to read. I should have just showed you this.” The father said as he pulled out his iPhone and navigated to Wikipedia. He typed list of dsytopian films in the search box.

The boy looked down at his feet, bloody for lack of shoes. (They had been worn to dust in the great CrossFit games.) “Can’t we escape?”

“No, I’m afraid we’re stuck here in this poorly written, cliche-wracked parable forever.”

“What will happen to us?”

“Well, if I know anything about bad writing…” The father trailed off and stared stoically into the distance. His gaze took in the alien ships blasting lasers at destroyed buildings, Godzilla fighting Mothra, the vampires, the sentient machines hunting human prey, the zombies, The Tea Partiers, the giant two-headed 0ctopus with the word “Kochtapus” on its brow that towered above the DC skyline.

“What?” The son asked.

“I’m afraid we have to die to satisfy the liberal orthodoxy that has permeated this shoddily-constructed, nonsensical world.”

“Well,” the son said sighing, “It’s probably better than living in a badly-written world filled with contradictions and over-the-top conservative boogeymen.”

“That’s a good boy,” the father said proudly. “You’re already smarter than 87 percent of The New York Times op-ed columnists, and you have a brighter future!”

The boy began to smile. “Papa stop, you’re making me happy. Are all the bad liberal dinosaur newspapers gone?”

Looking through the burning sky toward the (INSERT POST-APOCALYPTIC ADJECTIVE HERE) Lincoln Memorial where Maureen Dowd sits in Abe’s chair, the man replies happily, “Yes son. They’re all gone now.”

Last week CNN´s Crimes of the Century — a show that has so far covered cases like the Unibomber, the DC sniper, and Andrea Yates — decided to tackle the 1993 Waco standoff between federal law enforcement and the Branch Davidian sect. And the end result, inexplicably produced by Ridley Scott, is one of the worst, most dishonest tellings of those still-controversial events that I have seen in a long time. By 2013, the usual thesis on Waco — even coming from lefties — is that it was a major law enforcement fuck-up, if not a purposeful federal holocaust. CNN has decided that the way to approach this tragic event with the right amount of sadness is to have a lot of tearful federal agents reminiscing about how they wanted to rescue those kids. And that’s all.

Here are the individuals CNN interviewed:

  • Davy Aguilera, ATF
  • Randy Parsons, FBI
  • Byron Sage, FBI
  • Jim Cavanaugh, FBI
  • The then-Editor in Chief of the Waco Herald-Tribune, the paper that called Koresh ¨The Sinful Messiah¨
  • Brian Levin from something called ¨The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism¨
  • Errol Southerns, author of Homegrown Violent Extremism
  • Clive Doyle, a Davidian who still believes, who doesn´t come off well, and whose 18-year-old daughter was ¨married¨ to Koresh. Doyle did not rescue her, or — apparently — attempt to.

Not included:

  • A single credible person to challenge the pro-fed narrative.

Here is a short list of nuance-building facts that CNN failed to mention in their hour:

  • That the government used the baseless accusation of meth manufacturing to get access to Bradley Fighting vehicles and other military tech for the raid. (Thanks, Reagan.)
  • The 911 call the Branch Davidians made shortly after the shoot-out with the ATF began. Koresh called 911 about an hour into the siege as well.
  • An explanation, or a pressing question about why the ATF did not stop the February 28 raid, even after learning that the Davidians knew they were coming. Aguilera says he’s sure that the raid would have succeeded if they had had the element of surprise, and then the narrator brushes past that with a hand-waving, drama-building piece of nonsense, “the impetus to act had already reached critical mass.”
  • The feds’ refusal to release the footage that David Koresh and others shot inside the building to the media, out of fears that it would build sympathy for the sect.
  • The Feds cutting Koresh’s access to the media, and them being barred from Mt. Carmel and kept more than two miles away. (“In over thirty years, twenty-seven of which have been with Time-Life, I have covered wars and riots — you name it. I have never been restrained as I was in Waco, and I will say needlessly and senselessly.”– said Shelly Katz, a photographer.)
  • The feds use of incendiaries, and their denial of that fact for six years. 
  • The fact that the feds bulldozed the site after only a week of examination. 
  • Any evidence of the dangers of six hours of exposure to CS gas on children.

The biggest lingering questions — who started the fire on April 19, and who shot first in the February 28 raid — are addressed in a pro-fed fashion. Allegations that the shoot-out began after agents shot the Davidians’ dogs are not mentioned. The disappearance of the front door is not mentioned. (A lot of this comes from Waco: The Rules of Engagement, but I wrote a whole damn thesis largely about the event as well, meaning I have read multiple books and media reports.) The nod to the controversy of who shot first being as such is a recording of a phone call where Koresh says the feds did it. Dead, delusional Davis Koresh gets to say it, but nobody else alive or with credibility gets to say it. We also get the Editor in Chief of the Waco Herald-Tribune saying ¨the only person who will ever know who shot first is the person who shot first” which is a little better.

The feds seem moved, some tear up, giving them the opportunity to express regret for how things went down. Aguilera says the ATF agents had candy in their pockets for the kids. Sage says he arrived after a 45 minute shoot-out and over the phone, Koresh’s second in command screamed that the feds had no right to be there. Again, the 911 calls from various Davidians are not mentioned.

The shoot-out lasted around two hours. Doyle simply says he doesn’t deny that Davidians shot back when fired upon. The footage of ATF agents screaming at and attacking a KWTX-TV cameraman is included without any enlightening narration.

The narrator moves on with ¨what started as a carefully-planned raid…¨ (That seems like it’s pushing it a bit, considering.)

The next section is devoted to a compilation of Koresh lying and putting off the time when he will come out and surrender. This is true, as far as I know. Two different religious professors wrote a book called Why Waco? which suggests that approaching Koresh from a religious perspective, as opposed to that of a conman and criminal, might have lead to a different outcome. None of this is to defend Koresh, who was a creep, a cult-leader, and a child rapist.  But since the stakes for resolving the situation were as high as they were, it’s indefensible that the feds only slightly pursued this avenue of negotiation, giving up all too soon out of impatience and a conviction that Koresh’s mad opinions weren’t sincere.

For the next 51 days, the feds grow more annoyed.  They harass the Davidians with the sounds of rabbit slaughter and ¨These Boots Were Made for Walking.¨ They cut the power and water, then point to the horrible situation the children are living in. Finally, they get impatient and shiny new Attorney General Janet Reno okays the use of CS gas in the infamous FBI assault.

The disturbing aesthetic of the tanks smashing the walls, the voice of Byron Sage over the bullhorn saying ¨submit to the proper authorities¨ is not acknowledged by the narration as anything troubling. Aguilera says he did not know about the FBI’s gas plan.

Sage now says “I don’t think we — the FBI, the ATF — ever had any control over how this was going to end.  I I think the only control we truly had was when it was going to end.”

Levin, from ¨the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism¨ says “Koresh had his playbook already decided in advance, that he would destroy his followers rather than give up to the evil armies of the federal government.” Sage says, ¨We banked on the fact that parents would “move heaven and earth to get them to a position of safety. We were wrong.” Soundtrack is is a dramatic heartbeat. There is footage of the burning Mt. Carmel. Parsons said he thought “thank God those mothers  will bring their children out now.¨ And they didn’t.

Waco: The Rules of Engagement (watch it!) delves into questions of whether any feds fired on the Davidians who were fleeing. I am not comfortable saying anything definitive on that, but the FLIR footage with the bursts look much more like gunfire than the supposed sunlight. And it’s worth looking into that allegation, or at least mentioning its existence.

Ricks talks about the feds starting the fire rumor, or FBI shooting people. Sage says we didn’t do everything right, but “we didn’t set the fires, we did not murder anybody.” A news report from April 19 has Wolf Blitzer saying “all indications are that the fire was set from within, presumably by some of David Koresh’s followers.” (This kind of immediate trust in the feds´ spin was not unique to CNN. CBS was also very bad. Weekly news magazines were bad and went full-on apocalyptic cult. Newspapers like The New York Times were best.)

Sage says seven of the nine Davidian escapees had accelerants  on their clothing. Doyle doesn’t know who set it, if Davidians did “is it our fault for being bent on dying, or is it the FBI’s fault for taunting David?” Doyle might be an awful person, or an awful interview, or just was badly edited here. (Maybe all three.)

Parsons says Steve Shneider, Koresh´s number two, shot Koresh, them himself. Ricks: “The children themselves were mostly executed. They were either beaten to death, stabbed to death, or shot. David Koresh was never going to walk out of that place on our terms. It was doomed, from day one, that that place — which went by the name Ranch Apocalypse — was destined to end up in flames.”

A 1995 episode of Frontline quotes the county medical examiner, Dr. Nizam Peerwani, as saying, ¨Altogether, there were 20 people who died as a result of gunshot wounds that particular day. Some 27 additional bodies were buried deep within the bunker. These were co-mingled bodies and all of these were women and children. They were huddled together, some of them. They were covered with blankets. Some of them had face masks. And most of them had died as a result of smoke inhalation or suffocation, but there were at least three kids who had been shot to death and one was stabbed to death.¨

The covering of faces suggests a desire to have the children survive — albeit without the parents going outside and surrendering — and there is no mention there (or anywhere else I have seen) of children having been ¨beaten to death.¨

Things wrap up quickly in the episode. Various feds talk about the kids they wish they had rescued. Nothing about the trial of the surviving Davidians is worth commenting upon, but it is important to mention that the Waco paper was a Pulitzer finalist for their reporting.

But the takeaway of all this, besides sad feds is, says the narrator:

“In the aftermath of the tragedy, not another Waco became a rallying crime for the ATF. The agency improved intelligence gathering and reporting methods. And changed policy on who makes on the ground incident decisions. The FBI made changes as well — forming a crisis response group to ensure complete communication between its negotiators and tactical response teams.”

Then there’s that infuriating Janet Reno footage where she says she is taking responsibility. (Rhetorical responsibility and that is all.)

McVeigh is mentioned twice — first that he was in the crowds watching the stand-off, and was inspired to murder 168 people in Oklahoma City because of what he saw. At the end, the narration mentions that there are three monuments at the remains of Mt. Carmel today — one for the victims of the OKC bombing (nice gesture, but sort of annoying at the same time), one for the 76 Davidians, and, says the narrator ¨The third — the smallest stone of all — remembers the four ATF agents who perished on February 28, 1993.”

Davy Aguilera tears up and mentions each ATF agent by name. (Note: the hideous TV movie made about Koresh after the raid, but before the fire, and whose screenwriter has entirely disowned it, was dedicated to those agents.) He says “…they were heroes. When I hear taps, or when I hear a bagpipes, I just break down. I’ll take this to my grave.”

We cut to footage of dejected ATF agents leaving the raid. Their hands are up, some are backing away. The final shot is of a petite female agent looking back at the camera.

In short — which this post wasn’t — this was an inexcusably light treatment of a horrible, controversial event in recent history. According to CNN’s narrative, the only thing that matters about Waco is how it affected law enforcement. From their sadness over the dead children, to the lessons learned in tactics, what matters is how they felt about the event.

The failure of the media at Waco — something I wrote a score of pages on for my thesis — was not entirely its own fault, in that they were simply not allowed to see and judge for themselves. But that’s not an excuse for their trusting, lapdog responses. In general, the press’ pathological inability to admit that they don’t know what happened often kills any chance at honest reporting — at Waco and at other big news events. They just can’t admit when they don’t know, and they rarely acknowledge that police and government officials — particularly ones who were one half of an event, and were rigidly controlling access to the other half — are not divorced, ivory-tower experts on the issue, but people with  bias and spin like anyone else.

As my esteemed older brother noted below, moderately famous actor and political wannabe Kal Penn — who should have stuck with being boring on House — recently tweeted his support of the New York City Police Department’s now-unconstitutional stop and frisk policy that disproportionately affects minorities. (People responding to Penn’s tweet seemed incredulous, at least. One suggested that Penn forgot the #snark hashtag. Penn responded with a slur against “activist judges” so clearly that’s a thing for Democrats to be mad about now.)

Joe forgot another important reason to loathe Penn — besides his inability to realize that brown people who aren’t famous actor friends of Obama may be getting the short end of the authority stick — his bullshit on the drug war. A man made famous for being the Cheech for a new generation also  acted the sniveling weasel apologist for Obama the drug war war hypocrite.

As Mike Riggs wrote at Reason.com last September:

Actor Kal Penn and President Barack Obama were both raked over the coals yesterday for their collaboration on a campaign video teasing Penn’s upcoming appearance at the Democratic National Convention. In that video, Penn reprised his role as Kumar from the Harold and Kumar movies, and takes a phone call from Obama while stoned, watching cartoons, and eating junkfood. The subtle implication is that marijuana users are easily swayed, lazy idiots.

Reason, the Marijuana Policy Project, LEAP, and several others criticized Penn and Obama for the video, as Obama has utterly failed to live up to his promise to deprioritze federal prosections of medical marijuana.

In an interview with Chris Moody of Yahoo! News, Penn said

“I think that the president’s been pretty consistent with that. He’s not in favor of legalization, we should be open about something like that. But what the president has done is take a really smart look at the Department of Justice and said, given the fact that the federal government has limited resources, we should be allocating them toward violent criminals and not towards non-violent criminals. We can see that not just in things like marijuana but in things like immigration reform where he’s going after and deporting violent criminals and making sure that if you’re a Dream Act eligible student that you know that you can apply for your deferred status. Wherever the federal government has an appropriate role, I think the president’s been very consistent in that. That’s something that I think folks should know.”

Penn should have stuck to the world of fiction, because his political views lie entirely in that realm as well.

This is Kal Penn.

kal-penn-2Notice the dark hair, eyes, and complexion. Born Kalpen Suresh Modi, he changed his name once he became an actor because he thought his birth name inhibited his ability to get call-backs on auditions.

Penn rose to movie notoriety through the “Harold and Kumar” series. In Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Kal’s character Kumar and his best friend Harold (John Cho) suffered a series of misadventures punctuated by racist cops and racist “extreme” punks, while interacting with stereotype-busting Asians and put-upon African-Americans who were thrown in jail for no reason (other than being black). In the sequel Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Harold and Kumar are sent to Guantanamo Bay because Kumar is mistaken for a terrorist.

haroldandkumarterrorist

Why is this important? Because of irony (and not just the Alanis Morissette kind).

On Monday, a federal judge ruled the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy “violated the constitutional rights of minorities in the city” and could not continue in its current form.

Naturally New York city Mayor Michael Bloomberg was upset that his pet project was put on the skids.

More surprising was the support the law received from Mr. Penn.

Irony: the star of a franchise whose central theme revolves around the fallibility of stereotypes — and the problems that arise from it, decides to come out in favor of a law that stereotypes African-Americans (and Hispanics) as criminals that don’t deserve protection under the Fourth Amendment.

Kal, a fervent Democrat and who worked as associate director for the White House’s Office of Public Engagement until 2011 (read: he was a hype man for Obama,) fancies himself a future political star. Unfortunately it looks like he’s also a racist.

You’d think that an actor who rose to fame in a movie franchise that revolves around breaking stereotypes would be a little more sensitive to the plight of minorities.

Unfortunately Kal didn’t soak up any of the information gleaned from these movies. Hopefully he’ll learn something from the upcoming sequels to the Harold and Kumar series: Harold: Because Kumar got Renditioned and Harold and Kumar Don’t Get to Go to White Castle Because Kumar gets Killed by Racists Who Think He’s Muslim in the Post 9/11 Fervor.