Few authors have grappled with Big Questions™ via deliciously salacious material better than Sophocles. Want to get people talking about conflicts between secular & religious obligations, fate, and civic virtue? Tease them with incest, patricide, live burial, and self-mutilation.
The West Was Written blogger has an interesting analysis of the civic virtue angle as presented in Antigone:
Once the confetti is swept up, the real test of governing begins. This is when King Creon’s admonishment [to be skeptical of our leaders' self-advertisements] becomes important. WE MUST WATCH OUR RULERS – and this is daunting because there are so very many of them these days. Where to begin? Begin with the understanding that this duty is not exciting. That it requires sacrifice and boring conversations on multiple occasions with people your delicate feelings would rather avoid…
Why all of that watching? Politicians never EVER say what they really mean. It takes multiple times listening to their speeches and interviews (or better yet being in the room with one by going to boring government meetings) to really get a sense of what they’re actually saying.
The conflict between what’s important and what’s exciting is clearest in politics. It’s why the Cordoba House mosque attracts more attention than the Financial Reform Bill, and why Sarah Palin has more than 2,000,000 followers on Facebook, while Paul Ryan has fewer than 6,000. Government’s most important functions are rarely sexy, which is why it’s necessary to keep a close, weary eye on it and the people who run it.
But we should apply our skepticism means as well as the proper goals and purpose of government. Keeping politicians and bureaucrats honest is essential to liberty, but only if we are equally vigilant about keeping them on task. Read the rest of this entry »
Obama said on yesterday that he didn’t know who Snooki is. But here‘s Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner:
“Of course, that’s not the only thing that we’ve been accused of socializing this year. You might have heard we passed a health care bill and — (applause.) Is that Roger Ailes applauding out there? (Laughter.) Some Republicans have suggested that the bill contains a few secret provisions. That’s ridiculous. There aren’t a few secret provisions in the health care plan — there are, like, hundreds. (Laughter.)
Tonight, in the interest of transparency, I’d like to share a couple. Let’s see — this provision is called the Bay State of Denial. It reads: “This bill shall cover short-term memory loss related to the passage of Massachusetts health carereform.” So, good news, Mitt, your condition is covered. (Laughter.)
This next provision is called the Jersey Shore-Up. It reads: “The following individuals shall be excluded from the indoor tanning tax within this bill.” Snooki, J-WOWW, the Situation, and House Minority Leader John Boehner. (Laughter.)”
So which is it, Mr. President? I for one demand articles of impeachment be drawn up. Unless, of course, he can blame it all on the TelePrompTer.
You simply must watch this video. Though it’s heavily edited and filled with editorial content, it shows one of the most blatant violation of a citizen’s 4th Amendment rights I’ve ever seen:
Police officers have dangerous and important jobs that are essential to a functioning society, and — like all humans — they make mistakes. What this video shows was a mistake that turned into a crime that turned into a cover-up. All the officers involved deserve to lose their jobs and face prosecution. If the Bill of Rights is meant to do anything, it’s to protect Americans from armed thugs who bust-down doors and seize property without cause. That includes thugs with badges.
In a free society, police deserve citizens’ respect for the risks they take to protect them as well as their skepticism for the incredible power entrusted to them.
Willie Brown, the wily master of California politics, weighed in the the Shirley Sherrod affair:
As an old pro, though, I know that you don’t fire someone without at least hearing their side of the story unless you want them gone in the first place.
This woman has been a thorn in the side of the Agriculture Department for years. She was part of a class-action lawsuit against the department on behalf of black farmers in the South. For years, she has been operating a community activist organization not unlike ACORN.
I think there were those in the Agriculture Department who objected to her being hired in the first place.
Plus there was the politics. If you are running for election in south Georgia, you don’t want to have to explain someone like Sherrod.
But I have to add that the overreaction of the White House once again underscores Obama’s own problem with race.
This president has carefully crafted his image, and it hinges on his not being seen as a Jesse Jackson or an Al Sharpton, as a flack for the NAACP or the Urban League.
In other words, he does not want to be seen as a “black” president. He wants to be seen as a president who happens to be black.
That mind-set permeates his administration. Anytime there’s an issue that is clearly “black,” the Obama people do not want to be associated with it in any fashion.
We saw it first in his distancing himself from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and to a lesser extent in the dust-up between police and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates. And now this.
Obama has come in for considerable criticism from a number of respectable and important black people. He has a Latino issues adviser. He has an adviser on gay rights. He has an adviser on senior issues, on labor – but there is no African American issues adviser. There has been no big black cultural celebration at the White House.
There’s only one black in his cabinet. Even George W. Bush had more blacks in positions of power than Obama.
Hubbard posted this at 10:36 AM CDT on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 as Politics, Race
I hope it’s lower after reading this. It’s difficult to find a better example of (1) baseless and malicious race mongering, and (2) someone openly stating that they don’t really care what the facts are when declaring an opinion. Damn the facts: whatever it takes to disparage Fox News and call Republicans racist, that’s what Dean’s willing to do.
This little story was linked off of Drudge the other day, and I think is illustrative of a particular mindset:
Credit card agreements are written on average at a 12th grade reading level, making them not understandable to four out of five adults, according to a CreditCards.com analysis of all the agreements offered by major card issuers in the United States.
The average American adult reads at a ninth-grade level and readability experts recommend important information — such as credit card agreements — be written at that level. Only one in five adults reads above a 12th-grade level.
Let’s ignore whatever methodological problems may exist with the article (i.e. defining reading levels). The article has a particular point of view, namely that credit card companies need to make their agreements easier to read. And as a fan of clear and simple legal writing, I don’t disagree with that (though I’ve no problem reading my credit card agreements). But I think this story is a neat litmus test.
You might be a liberal if: You read this story and come away believing that credit card companies make their documents purposefully difficult to read so as to scam people out of money. This is a simple case of large financial institutions using their superior economic position to leverage the law in a way that harms the little guy.
You might be a conservative if: You read this story and wonder, “Why the hell, in a country where schooling is compulsory until at least age 16 (i.e. 10th grade), and where 27% of people have four year college degrees (i.e. 16th grade), 80% of people read at a 9th grade level or lower?” The vast majority of Americans have credit cards, and yet the vast majority of those people have no idea what sort of agreement they’re getting into? Why don’t they put a little effort into understanding things. Knowledge is not a difficult thing to acquire in this age.
Apollo posted this at 2:30 AM CDT on Saturday, July 24th, 2010 as Conservatism
She may not have deserved what happened as a specific result of her NAACP speech, but she seems to be the type who had it coming. This woman was a dirt-bag race-monger from the beginning, and it didn’t take much provocation for her to let loose.
It’s like charging a criminal with one crime for which he’s innocent and having him admit to a different crime while on the stand. Breitbart’s off the hook, so far as I’m concerned, and this woman needs to be put back on it.
Edit: I’ll add this, from a comment I made earlier in the day, regarding the strategy that those of us who favor a color-blind society should use when facing bigots like Sherrod:
We need to show that if everyone were held to the standards of speech that conservatives are held to, most people can quite easily be called racists. We need to illustrate that there is a fairly widespread us-vs-them mentality in the black community that is lethal poison to a color-blind society, and that we will no more tolerate racism and racial discord from non-whites than we tolerate it from whites. And we need to show that we care enough about ending racial discord that we’re willing to call people to the mat over it.
Apollo posted this at 4:38 PM CDT on Friday, July 23rd, 2010 as Journalism, Race
I’ve just noticed one of those “This road construction brought to you by Porkulus” road signs near my house. Except that there is no road construction nearby. And in the three years I’ve lived here, there has been no road construction nearby. The road is very nice – broad and smooth – but I reckon that’s from a repaving project in the not too distant past. I guess there aren’t federal funds for “This smooth road brought to you by the Bush administration” signs these days.
. . . Andrew Breitbart promised he would do to the left what the left has been doing to the right for years. He is gathering quite the collection of leftwing scalps and will forever warm the hearts of the right for the ACORN takedown alone. I’m glad he is on our side.
That said, I think Shirley Sherrod has been unfairly characterized as a racist. . . .
The left has used race as a weapon for a very long time. They have devalued what racism means – which is a terrible shame if you actually care about stopping real racism or remembering it in our history. The word now connotes disagreeing with the left instead of what it actually means.
Had Ms. Sherrod been white, she’d be vilified in the press, fired, and probably have trouble thereafter seeking work. The NAACP would be passing a resolution condemning the Department of Agriculture as racist. This is what we have become in politics because of the unrepentant race-baiting on the left. It has become a tit for tat war of retribution.
We see that on the Journolist as reported by the Daily Caller today. When Jeremiah Wright was in the news, the leftwing reporters on Journolist plotted to change the subject by declaring various figures in and around the Bush White House, including Karl Rove on the inside and Fred Barnes on the outside, “racist.” They wanted to scream racism not because the people to be attacked were in fact racist, but because it would be a useful way to change the subject.
That war has casualties on both sides. Ms. Sherrod is the latest. It is not fair. But that’s how the left plays and the right must fight on offense or not fight at all. It disgusts me to have to say it, but that is so very sadly where we are. As long as the left gets a pass on this all too easy game, the right has to fight back.
Ultimately, I’m with Erickson. Too many people I respect have been unjustifiably labeled racist for me to shed more than a couple of tears for Ms. Sherrod. The aim at this point is to make the Racist War so mutually damaging that we all agree to ignore it. This can’t end until the race hucksters and shamsters pack up and go home.
Apollo posted this at 1:46 AM CDT on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 as Race
I’ll be glad with the race hucksters at the NAACP decide to disband and go home, because that way we might stand a chance to, for just once in our lives, not hear the exact same damned rhetoric every time a school or business decides to stop being in the business of racial discrimination.
“Too many lives were sacrificed. Too much blood was shed. Too many tears were shed. We can’t turn back now.”
Is that in response to being denied the right to vote? Or is it in response to a county government deciding to stop forcing white kids and black kids to take lengthy bus rides each morning to distant schools so that the classroom aesthetics jibe with some bean counter’s notion of diversity? Or is it in response to being told that it’s 10:40 and McDonald’s stopped serving breakfast 10 minutes ago? Or is it in response to your date not putting out? Who cares: When you’re with the NAACP, the same lines work for every situation.
Apollo posted this at 12:19 AM CDT on Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 as Buffoon Watch, Race
Science, we need to talk. I’m really trying to be on your side here. I constantly defend you from attacks from religious nutters on the right and global warming zealots on the left. You do us a lot of good.
Not all the exoskeleton action is taking place in the US. In Japan, Cyberdyne, a company set up by Professor Sankai of the University of Tsukoba, is manufacturing HAL (Hybrid Assisted Limb, pictured right), a gleaming white suit developed, in Sankai’s words, to “upgrade the existing physical capabilities of the human body.” HAL multiplies the user’s strength by a factor of two to 10, with the exoskeleton supporting its own weight. The suit responds to bio-signals running beneath the human skin, interpreting signals going to the wearer’s muscles to mimic his or her movement exactly.
Really? Cyberdyne and HAL? Are you trying to get us all killed? Science, you have some explaining to do.
Jamie posted this at 11:41 AM CDT on Monday, July 19th, 2010 as Toaster Update
When asked whether they saw Obama’s administration as more pro-Israel, more pro- Palestinian or neutral, just 10 percent of Israeli Jews said more pro-Israel, 46% said more pro-Palestinian, 34% said neutral and 10% did not express an opinion.
So if you think that close and amicable ties with Israel are important, by the president’s logic I suppose you are justified in voting against him because of his name.