Home country: USA
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Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 9,085
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 9,085
They're speaking at a higher informational level than most of the talking heads, with varying levels of ideological discussion mixed in. I keep learning things -- real information -- watching them, which is incredibly refreshing compared to talking heads that just paddle around in the shallow water.
And they're also doing real journalism. Rachel brought the Virginia governor's corruption problems to the fore. Kornacki broke important chunks of Christie's bridge & Sandy shenanigans. I don't see anything from either the right, or from pure journalism, doing what they're doing in terms of informing, debunking, and to varying levels, arguing progressive viewpoints. Moyers, probably, but he's not on enough.
I think Matthews and O'Donnell bring too pure a political vibe, which can be tiresome, although they're good for to get an insider's view of politics.
But those other three are something special in my opinion, and they're a good mix. Kornacki's a real reporter, Hayes is a magazine-style writer / thinker with a relentlessly rational point of view, and Maddow is a brilliant broadcaster and polemicist who's great at pinning down and annihilating rightwing nonsense in a really satisfying way.
I worry that MSNBC doesn't know what they've got or isn't satisfied with the way ratings are building, dumbing down Kornacki with that silly gameshow and having Hayes beg for Facebook likes.
They've got a real halo building around the network with these three. No one else is pulling off this level of work. I hope MSNBC doesn't screw it up chasing people afraid of big words and bored by complicated "facts."
Posted by DirkGently | Sat Mar 8, 2014, 11:23 AM (2 replies)
... in history. Like their gibbering invective constitutes fact.
I often do not agree with this administration's policies. But he will be seen as an effective President, and one that -- look out -- enacted some positive "change." The ACA, improvements in gay rights at the federal level, the end of Iraq.
They're outraged because they weren't able to stuff him like they thought. Twice-elected, handily. Significant forward motion on health care reform. A more credible voice in the world community. A rejection of stupidity and belligerence as America's main public attributes. That great wave of "buyer's remorse" never materialized except inside their own minds.
And part of his legacy may also be the implosion of the Republican Party. They were so horrendous in their monolithic opposition, so juvenile in their sly racial dog-whistling. So impotent and destructive in their extortionate rage. They are now flailing about in a small, smelly box of their own construction.
Posted by DirkGently | Sun Feb 23, 2014, 12:30 PM (1 replies)
Obama said he opposed in the SOTU speech. The entire logic is that the U.S. in in a permanent state of worldwide, borderless war with shifting groups of "militants" or "terrorists," determined by unaccountable processes, carried out in secret, and subject to no apparent repercussions.
It's Bush-era conceit, relying on the concept of "war" to enhance the power of the executive. Cheney's baby, rationalized by Woo and others cooperative White House lawyers, to deliberately distort the balance of powers contemplated in the Constitution for the purpose of creating a "unitary executive" or whatever they're calling it now.
This will be the ugliest part of Obama's legacy, eventually condemned here as it is already everywhere else as a crime against humanity and an usupportable assumption of worldwide authority on the part of the U.S. that neither we nor anyone else accept from any other country.
Whether the number of innocents killed so far is in the hundreds or thousands is largely beside the point. We don't have the right to do this. We do not have the authority to rain death down on whomever we see fit, on whatever basis we claim, anytime, and anywhere.
Moreover, it's not going to solve terrorism or protect the country. It doesn't matter whether we've annhilated one civilian village or wedding party or a hundred. Every Hellfire is guaranteed to produce more anti-American sentiment than it can ever hope to snuff out.
Obama is wrong on this. History will blame him, and us, we will spend a long time crawling our way back toward any kind of worldwide credibility as an aribter of humanitarian standards or the rules of war or the wrongness of extra-territorial aggression.
Posted by DirkGently | Tue Feb 4, 2014, 10:57 AM (1 replies)
Kornacki's not as polished a broadcaster as the other two, and they've got him dumbing down (telling his panel they'll be fined for using big words) and clowning (that ridiculous gameshow disaster they keep putting on at the end). He's the best straight-up journalist of the the three though -- he gets and tracks information expertly. His reporting on the Christy debacle(s) have led the country.
Chris' style has become my favorite -- maybe because he's a long-form, magazine writer by training. He's a big-picture guy who can articulate all sides of an argument, and he's got a powerful, nuanced "take" on issues he can present reasonably but forcefully. He can get excited, but he never comes across as unreasonable. He's great at prying at others to get at what they know and contribute. He sometimes talks over my head on some bit of theory or process -- and I LOVE THAT -- there are so few shows in this news / commentary genre capable of teaching anything. Yet we hear him forced to beg for Facebook followers on a regular basis.
Rachel's the real broadcast star. She's an electric personality, and she's deliciously infuriating to the right wing. She's an advocate and a sly polemicist who coats her razor knives in a wink and chuckle that make them unassailable. Sometimes her intense delivery can be a little tiring, but she's brilliant and relentless. She never let up on "Governor ultrasound," who's now indicted. Her ratings must be the best, because no one seems to be making her screw around with the show chasing bored or ignorant viewers.
These three are building a halo around MSNBC that could elevate the entire enterprise. I keep hearing right-wingers desperately trying to draw a false equivalency to Fox, to dismiss them, but there's just no wild-eyed crazy talk, no race-baiting, no casual disregard for facts, science, or history. They are winning.
I just worry that MSNBC will dump them or mangle their shows for fear Americans can't handle intelligent discourse or the slightest bit of complex detail. Apparently someone at the network thinks Facebook "likes" and jazzy comedic bits are more valuable.
They've got a shot at changing the game here. Hope the network doesn't blow it.
Posted by DirkGently | Sat Feb 1, 2014, 12:25 PM (2 replies)
I think the key nonsense here is "fawning." No, no one should be "fawning" over a Pope. Or any religious leader. Or any political one. I think everyone here could agree immediately that there is no basis for overwhelming, unadulterated praise and love for the leader of the Catholic Church.
So we could all be done right there. No fawning. No one's pro fawning. That's ridiculous.
But that's a bit of a straw man argument, and what's really being suggested is that it's wrong to acknowledge the leader of the Catholic Church saying or doing anything right, which is frankly kind of insane and smacks of the weird American religious bias against Catholics.
First off, OUR crazy homophobes and misogynists are Protestants. There are all kinds of polls lying around showing American Catholics are not only more progressive than other religious people, but on the actual issues for which the Catholic Church takes so much righteous blame. Abortion. Birth control. Gay rights. Your basic American abortion doctor killer or gay club bomber will be a Baptist or some other Protestant sect. So let's not get all fuzzy about where the core of insanely regressive social theory lies amongst ourselves. It ain't the Vatican, and it's always a bit off when people charge in and attempt to blame Catholicism for all of the stupid ideas contained in Christianity.
Secondly, we routinely acknowledge steps in the right direction from bad institutions and the leaders of the same. All kinds of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders are applauded for making worthy comments about tolerance or peace or taking care of the poor. All of them subscribe to holy books that say gay people and women are subject to savage mistreatment in the name of "God." It's nice that some talk around the Old Testament, and never mention the horrible stuff, but if we're going with institutional crimes, no Western religion gets a pass.
Obama, for example, is a Christian, and therefore subscribes to a Bible that has all the nutty Catholic crap in it too. And, he is the leader of a racist, sexist, homophobic country. Within recent memory, he expressly opposed gay marriage on religious grounds. He "evolved," whether out of conscience, public pressure, political expedience, or (most likely) a combination of the three. But we do not say he is therefore lying when he says something good or makes a change for the better because he is the leader of a country with a lot crimes to answer for and a lot of horrible ideas still on the books.
Thirdly, the Pope giving mere "lip service" to a better idea like economic justice over a worse one, like homophobia, is a real thing with real value. He may be the theoretical "king" of the Church, but he can no more erase every intolerant Catholic policy with a wave of whatever that stick is he has than Obama can open Guantanamo tomorrow, or tell the states to stop preventing gay people from adopting children.
Finally, if we propose that we need to tell the Catholic Church that it is not okay until it starts rejecting the horrible ideas embedded in Christianity and embracing the good ones, the way you do that is to DO THAT. Just like any leader of any screwed up organization with a mountain of sins and anti-progressive policies, we recognize an improvement, or a faint nod in the right direction, while continuing to condemn the abominable.
And yeah, the racist, creepy, horrible Paul family is right on drug laws and right on getting out of wars in the Middle East, for Jesus' sake. We don't have to lie and pretend they're wrong about everything because they're wrong about a lot of important things, because we are not robots or children. No one is buying that noise, and it doesn't look any smarter or sound more convincing when it is dragged out over and over again. People are not all one thing. No one thinks that. If Michele Bachmann says something smart someday, we should all say, "Hey, that was pretty smart." Because otherwise you end up lying to try to support or attack a person, and right and wrong become superfluous.
Economic justice is good, whether it's coming from the mouth of the Pope or a Senator or god-forbid-a-Republican. We can acknowledge good without "fawning" over someone, or forgetting that they are completely, unforgivably wrong about drone strikes or abortion or same sex marriage. If we want leaders to do better things and stop doing worse things, we acknowledge when they get it right, even a little bit.
The rest is a lot of hot air.
Posted by DirkGently | Sun Dec 29, 2013, 02:36 PM (1 replies)
I "get" the First Amendment. I think most people do. But most people also understand that "free speech" is a complicated right that can't be trotted out to short-circuit all discussion of every kind of expression there could ever be. It doesn't work that way, and never has.
If we are once again plunging into the "Nasty Porn, Freedom or Threat?" waters, the general principle of free speech just isn't enough to conclude anything.
We we need a little nuance here.
First, the First Amendment is great. It IS a core a principle that America is rightfully proud of, but
No one thinks it's an unfettered right. It's not.
There are, and always have been, limits based on actual HARM.
- Can't make certain threats.
- Can't expose certain state secrets.
- Can't print or speak false statements harmful to reputation (and not be sued for it)
- Can't incite imminent violence.
- Can't speak so as try to start a fight (and claim it was free speech)
So, respectfully, the Very Bad Porn vs. The First Amendment dumbs things down way too much. Unless you have people actually making the "ban whatever I don't like" argument, which I don't recall seeing here much.
Here's what's going wrong with this debate.
1. The "critics" aren't all talking about bans and censorship.
That's the same stupid conflation the extremes of gun control debate keep coming down on. No right is unlimited, and every regulation or limitation on a right is not a high-speed slippery slope to a ban. We limit EVERY RIGHT.
Backing up though, Constitutional protections mean absolutely zero if you're talking about
- Labeling / warning
2. When you do get to actual regulation, we have mountains of it already, on theories that some "artistic" or entertainment expressions can do actual harm to either the participants in creating it, or the consumers of it. Largely this has to do with children, but the PRINCIPLE is not, and never was, that expression in all its forms, and no matter how "dangerous" cannot be touched.
We can, do, and should regulate porn. Sorry. And it's not -- necessarily -- authoritarianism or "censorship" or any of that.
No one thinks that.
Everyone understands -- right? -- that one of the issues with "rape porn" is the problem with determining whether an actual sex act is consensual or not once it's being filmed for profit, right? So it's not an aesthetic issue, but more like child porn, where the people being filmed are being hurt BY the production. Not okay, and not free speech under any rationale.
I had thought fully realized physical depictions of rape were already illegal here, for just that reason, but apparently that's not the case. I don't think a ban would be the slightest bit inconsistent with the First Amendment.
But the rest of this discussion is really where the meat is -- the parts about gender privilege and exploitation -- It's not possible to reduce that to Censorship -- Yes or No?! There's more being raised than aesthetics or prudery, and there is more that might be done than bans or censorship.
If we have to have 10,000 threads about this stuff, let's bear in mind it's much more complicated than Free Speech vs. Dirty Stuff on the Internet, and reducing it all to that just shows an unwillingness to think past knee-jerk poo-flinging.
The real crackpottery here is reducing ever discussion of the possible harms of any form of expression to "They're comin' for your pornz!" as though that were the only conceivable thing to be discussed.
We're smarter than that.
Posted by DirkGently | Wed Dec 4, 2013, 01:48 PM (5 replies)
Just one take on the whole thing, which seems to get a lot of people tangled up for some reason:
- As for actual "chivalry," it's kind of a myth to begin with. Sure there was a "code," but knights were arguably kind of dicks. Rich guys in armor (and only rich guys could afford armor) fighting wars for kings, killing Muslims for Jesus and likely with no particular compunction about hurting people they weren't obligated to protect. They were a privileged part of a class system. Sufficiently worthy damsels get rescued; dirty peasants get ridden down.
So, what knights said they were about -- honor, loyalty, etc. -- was just the same kind of window dressing every powerful group assigns itself. We are Spartans! Heroes! Righters of wrongs! So say we all. Take, America, for example. We say we mean well, and often do live up to that, but at the end of the day we claim to be the good guys whether we actually act that way or not.
We dare anyone to question our intentions because we are heavily armed.
- Then there is not inconsiderable patronizing element of the whole thing. It's implicit that the "strong" who protect the "weak" are actually better, sort of, and the weak therefore better be pretty freaking grateful ... or else. Noblesse oblige and all that.
People have suggested with good reason that implicit in the need to protect women in particular (who notably weren't eligible to be part of the warrior class) is that women occupy a lesser place than "the strong." And likely need to ... reciprocate by being submissive or sexually available. The crude modern take on this has always been the expectation that buying a woman dinner and opening the doors entitles a man to sex. Not too hard to see the objection to that framework. And it's still unquestionably part of our culture. See sugardaddies.com or whatever. I remember arguing with some Internet Dude about his belief that his wife taking his surname was some kind of righteous payment for his "protection."
And then there is the whole backlash you see from offended men who think they are getting some kind of double standard where they are at once expected to be protective and courteous, but then may also be accused of being patronizing or sexist. I think that's mostly deliberate obtuseness.
My take is that kindness and courtesy can always be freely given, so long as people don't screw it up with rigid "rules" or expectations or judgments. Do for others what you can, what makes sense, what makes both parties feel good. Don't turn it into an obligation or a downpayment on future favors or dominance issue.
As long as it's given and received in good faith, by and from either men or women, kindess is just kindness.
Posted by DirkGently | Tue Dec 3, 2013, 02:31 PM (0 replies)
that we could massage and empower the largest monied interests in a way that wouldn't hurt everyone. Rising stock market floats all boats, if you will.
But a rising stock market isn't enough. They have to game the system. Inflate bubbles, burst them, rush in to pick up the pieces. Fend off all regulation. Abscond with the social safety net.
We can be friends with those interests once they get back behind the walls liberals built to contain their worst impulses in the first place.
Posted by DirkGently | Sat Nov 2, 2013, 12:41 PM (1 replies)
Growth is endemic to all Earth's life forms, but so far, nothing else has devoured the entire planet, and I think it's a little self-aggrandizing to imagine we are the exception.
Not to say we couldn't wreck the whole thing with a nuclear war or by further damaging the oceans, but growth alone isn't going to kill us all, or make life impossible.
Populations self-regulate, to some degree, with or without "misery and vice." Crude birth rates have been dropping since the 1950s.
And I don't think it's energy that's going to put the brakes on. Even without a breakthrough like nuclear fusion, solar, wind and other renewables are right in front of us.
Water and climate change will bring crisis first and hardest, I think.
And while I agree capitalism's model of constant, unlimited growth is a problem, I don't think a drastically different social or economic system of any kind has an answer to limited resources or human short-sightedness. If there is such a system, nothing people are talking about now fits the bill.
But we will find better ways to allocate resources, or the physical laws of the universe will pull us up short.
I don't see Earth's human population finding a peaceful, sustainable balance with Nature any time soon, but an apocalpyse based on just projecting current trends failed Malthus and Marx both. We bent the curve before hitting the wall head-on.
We'll be pushed, pulled, and dragged toward sustainable systems as we go.
How well we adapt and harmonize with those forces will determine how violent or how peaceably that occurs, but based on history so far, I'd bet on a lot of small-to-medium catastrophes over a gigantic, inevitable "splat," or the rise massively draconian cultural or political change designed to fix everything.
Posted by DirkGently | Wed Oct 30, 2013, 06:25 PM (0 replies)
… an UPWARD conduit for "redistributing wealth," the phrase that so enrages workaday conservatives in this country.
We funnel wealth upward constantly, through big government contracts, through tax laws with loopholes available only to the rich, with job and education opportunities available only to the wealthy and connected, and nary a peep from these people.
But give a kid a hot breakfast at a public school, and suddenly it's Big Government Reaching Into My Pocket.
These huge companies with their MBA-think philosophy of ever-decreasing costs always come back to their labor force as a way to push next quarter's profit graph a little higher. It's unsustainable, and as people are now pointing out more and more, it not only stifles the economy by depressing consumer spending on the part of underpaid workers, but increases the burden on the meager social safety nets we do have by creating more and more "working poor."
It's not question of whether we should "redistribute wealth." That's what an economy and a civilization does. That's how this works. The question is where we distribute it, for what purpose, and what we as a whole society get out of it.
This is Maher at his best -- making cogent points that should be obvious, but that we don't talk about.
Posted by DirkGently | Sat Oct 26, 2013, 11:51 AM (0 replies)