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  • Three terrible, neocon tweets, possibly preserved in some sort of social networking hibernation in 2004 to be thawed out now:

I didn’t know Eric Holder was soft on terrorists! What a disturbing interpretation!

You’re a parody.

“Playing the victim.”

  • Two different round-ups of more awful responses. The first is from Dan Bier at The Skeptical Libertarian, the second is from Andrew Kirell at Mediaite. The worst one is by far from Nick Kristof of The New York Times. The most banal — to me, and at least before the insane infowars-invaded press conference — was the one from Alex Jones. What the hell else would you expect from him besides spouting off about a “false flag attack”? I’m more impressed that he managed to express some sorrow for the lives lost.
  • And honestly, I think that the Cable News response could have been a lot worse. Some lingering lessons from Tuscon shooting, Sandy Hook, maybe Columbine, for Christ’s sake, seems to have finally stuck in people’s minds. I mean, Fox News still leaned towards terrorists of the brown persuasion (and Cavuto talked to Joe Arpaio, which was terribly enlightening, as you can imagine). MSNBC and CNN used words like “Waco” and “McVeigh” a lot more often. And, ya know, The New York Post lost its fucking mind and continued to refer to a Saudi suspect and 12 dead until at least 6 p.m. But somehow it felt like it could have been worse.
  • Some moving and grisly photos compiled by Buzzfeed. Take their”graphic” warning to heart. If you can stomach seeing a man with half both legs gone, you may be able to appreciate one amazing photo in particular. That sounds utterly callous, but then, so is taking a photo of a naked, napalmed girl. There’s no way to resolve my — or other folks’ — appreciation for hideous, powerful photojournalism. It’s always going to be wrong and necessary to intrude into people’s horror-moments in this way.
  • Dave Weigel on “Why the Conspiracy Theorists Will Have a Tough Time With Boston.” Weigel seems to have forgotten about the existence of the Zapruder film, however. I’m going to have to assume there’s some sort of deep conspiracy there.
  • Something to make you tear up — more concrete even than a Mr. Rogers quote.

This is strangely moving. For Holy Thursday, Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 young detainees in an Italian prison. Two of them were women, one was even Muslim.

And this is still...cool. And it’s also moving. Not all of Christopher Hitchens’ anti-religious pontificating was interesting to me, but his simple profanity, the simple “no, fuck you” as the correct response to Abraham’s order to kill his son Issac speaks volumes. That, offense or not, dear Christians, is what you say to God. That is what you say to anyone who tells you to kill your child. (Jesus, I don’t know, I feel like he had a little more autonomy in the whole crucifiction situation. Maybe I don’t get the trinity.)

Now, a lefty might say that who cares if the Pope washed some damn feet of poor juvenile delinquents — why doesn’t he institute some policies that would help them not be there in the first place? And indeed, the Catholic Church is not necessarily a net gain for the world. But young Roma immigrants in prison are pretty low on the totem pole of life. To see a man who is supposed to have a direct line to God kneeling before people like that seems to be a step in the right direction. And it seems beautiful. Humility in a way that’s not just a lazy word for someone who seems pious.

Besides, it’s easy, I suppose, to sass back to God in theory. Both acts are symbolic after all.

Hitchens’ stance on religion only really offends me when he acts as if non-believers should express nothing but hostility to any religious person they happen to meet. That’s absurd, if only because if I acted that way towards people with whom I disagree on huge issues (oh, say, the Iraq war) I would have exactly three and a half friends. Letters to a Young Contrarian Hitchens is my favorite. It’s from the post-Socialist, pre-9/11 period during which Hitchens’ love of humans, his desire for them to be free (before that was muddled up in his need to smash Islamic theocracies left and right) and his outrage over (his understand of) God as this 24/7 North Korea was highest. And it’s often a strangely beautiful, bracing attitude, even when I don’t always agree. Even his offense over the idea of Jesus sacrificing himself, being tortured, for Hitchens is great in its cussedness. He’s right about so many things, and I’m not an atheist.

I’m not an atheist and I have nothing but sincere feelings when I look at Pope Francis washing the feet of those kids. Even as I overthink those feelings.

The thing is, Hitchens at his heart seemed incredibly optimistic about people. “No, fuck you” in response to a theoretical and theocratic request to kill his children is love. But kissing the feet of kids who may have nobody in the world, who may have done bad things, poor, immigrant, oppressed kids, that’s love, too. Even if you’re doing it because you’re “supposed to”, because some old, stupid book, some ancient voodoo told you to, kissing those feet is love and it’s loving people.

557796_10150978453319886_2000035062_nYesterday afternoon my Aunt Soozy demonstrated heroic effort in order to find me a 3G-able phone spot so I could do a HuffPost Live segment on kids today and big government. We were, I might add, wandering through Northern California’s Avenue of the Giants (redwoods!) when I got the very last-minute email. But hurray, hurrah technology! It worked, thanks to my new phone!

Also present for the satisfyingly shouty encounter was Reason 24/7’s Jerry Tuccille, who I have never met in real life, but is clearly a dear human, based solely on internet interactions and conference calls quips. After I hung up I realized that the token lefty (yes, she was outnumbered, with two libertarians, one conservative  and a seemingly conservative host! So strange, that.) had been none other than Moe Tkacik, long ago of Jezebel when it was better, and more recently of this libertarian-frenzy-inducing Gawker hit piece on Dorian Eletra, the maker of everyone’s second favorite song about Hayek (and there’s really no shame in second place, mind). So that was bizarre.

Still, it worked. I, as a Hit and Run commenter helpfully noted, botched the first question (and I have never been given the first question on anything!) for which the host read an idiotic quote by an Alternet writer full of every libertarian slur-cliche possible. But it — and I — got better, more comfortable, and more argumentative as it went on. Of course, Jerry tended to just underline my stammering points by being more articulate  but the winner there was liberty, dammit.

Watch away, lovely readers. I would have combed my hair a little, but the aim is to be Moynihan on camera. Still working on that.