Month: April, 2008

Out of the Past

I received an e-mail today quoting Jon Stewart on Larry King Live:

In Larry King’s interview with Jon Stewart, Larry brought up the subject of the primaries and asked him if America was ready for a woman or a black president.

Jon looked at him quizzically and said “This is such a non-question. Did anyone ask us in 2000 if Americans were ready for a moron?”

It reminded me of another Jon Stewart moment, which I went and looked up, and was so affected watching it again that I thought I’d post it below. Then I got all itchy about fair use — since it’s a fourteen minute clip — that I decided to post a link to the transcript instead. If you want more, you know where to find it. You’ve perhaps already seen it, but I think it’s worth a second look. Especially now, in with the New York Times breaking a new scandal about cable pseudo-news.

If you’ve never seen the Jon Stewart clip, or never seen the whole thing, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s one thing to have heard about it, it’s quite another to see the way it played out.

Four months after the broadcast, the CNN show Crossfire was canceled, and the network ended its professional relationship with the bowtie-wearing Tucker Carlson. The new CNN President, Jonathan Klein, said the night before the announcement, “I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart’s overall ‘premise.'”

The premise was, of course. “I’m here to confront you, because we need help from the media, and they’re hurting us.”

I find this no less astonishing four years after its event, and perhaps more. The Quakers have an injunction, “speak truth to power.” It’s a rousing thought, and the need for it has not gone away.

Transcript of Jon Stewart’s Crossfire Interview

“And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero.”

— Walt Whitman


Update: Deadly Asteroid Aimed Toward White House; Will It Be Stopped?

New York Times:
“Senator John McCain of Arizona frequently uses the shorthand ‘Al Qaeda’ to describe the enemy in Iraq in pressing to stay the course in the war there.”

Which tempts the author to refer to his own earlier post, of March 31 (and humbly, and since you’re here anyway.)

Meanwhile some analysts approve of McCain’s usage. They say McCain is more detailed when he has the time, but according to Kenneth M. Pollack, research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution:

“[The campaign trail] does not lend itself to long-winded explanations of what we really are facing.”

Which daunts not Juan Cole, author of Sacred Space and Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shi’ite Islam, who boldly risks boring America to tears with the epic:

“The U.S. has not been fighting Al Qaeda, it’s been fighting Iraqis.”


…chimes in Bruce Hoffman, terrorism and counterinsurgency expert at Georgetown University:

“This is much more fractionated than most people could imagine…”

Which is not only terse, but gives English-speakers worldwide a whole new word: fractionated.

McCain, Iraq War and the Threat of ‘Al Qaeda’

…up comes Cliff Schecter’s new book, The Real McCain:

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain’s intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain’s hair and said, “You’re getting a little thin up there.” McCain’s face reddened, and he responded, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.” McCain’s excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

(Well-discussed here, at The Raw Story.)

and Wonkette, a DC blogger offers, and I hope resoundingly:

“But yeah for real he can’t be president.”

Lastly, yours truly considers stepping further in the fray with:

…the above being a custom bumper sticker he has created on a site online, and is tempted to order, but reluctant to affix, fearing that he will thereby forfeit the “I’m a high school teacher” cred he currently enjoys with Northern Virginia traffic police.

Greenland’s Ice Melting Faster

So, this might sound hackneyed to some, but according to an article in BusinessWeek, Greenland is melting faster than expected. What I found particularly interesting here are the details. Melted lakes are cracking their ice basins and flowing to bedrock, causing glaciers to slide more quickly, which causes them to melt faster. Which, one might presume, causes deeper and heavier lakes, with more ice-cracking ability, etc.

Global Warming: The Greenland Factor

The slide show is beautiful, in odd contrast to its implications for humanity…

The other thing that’s profound in this article is the invitation to contemplate that Miami, parts of New York City and some tremendous amount of Bangladesh might be under water in a few centuries (as is commonly predicted, should Greenland’s ice cover melt entirely.)

In the meantime, some nasty floods between now and then, I’d bet.

P.S. The President of the United States announced this week that he has a plan to cut US greenhouse gas emission increases to zero by 2025 or so…

…Meaning, as I read it, that rates of greenhouse gas emissions would continue to rise in the US until then?

Heterosexual Intercourse Beats Severed Heads…

…As the most offensive content (out of four choices) that children might encounter in a video game, according to a recent poll. Parents were asked to choose which they found most offensive: a graphically severed human head, a man and a woman having sex, multiple use of the “F-word,” or two men kissing.

The greatest number of votes for most offensive went to a man and a woman having sex, at 37%, followed by the graphically severed human head and the two men kissing in a dead heat 26% and 27% respectively, and multiple uses of the “F-word” last at 10%.

Act of love more offensive than severed human heads, reports poll

Note that the graphically severed human head was slightly more acceptable than two men kissing.

You know what might have been an interesting companion survey? To’ve asked,”Okay, then. Which of the four is most upsetting to you as an occurrence in real life?” It just might merit some checking in with our fellow Americans about that one.

I wonder how many people would ask, “Well, whose head are you talking about?”

Which is, you know, funny and all.

But then take a deep breath and think about it…

Easter Sunday, part II

There’s one other exchange of dialogue from the Easter conversation that I wanted to include:

“Plus, hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed.”

“No, I don’t think it’s been nearly that many.”

The most comprehensive study of people killed by violence in Iraq was compiled in 2006, by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It was “examined and validated by four separate independent experts who all urged publication.” It ran in the British Medical journal, Lancet. The Bloomberg study estimated the number, in 2006, at 655,000. President Bush dismissed the study as “politics.”

Maybe that number was too high. The second most comprehensive study is the UN assessment that in the year 2006 in isolation, the death toll was greater than 34,000. But, as one blogger noted that that’s about twice the number murdered in the US, only it occurred among a population one tenth the size. (I suppose it may or may not be useful, and certainly unscientific, to consider that 34,000 times five years is 170,000.)

It seems the unfortunate truth is that no oneknows for sure how many people have been killed in Iraq. Few are trying to keep count, and it seems one of the only ways to collect reliable data is to do the grunt work of collecting figures from the morgues, and the obituaries and so on. The information does not seem to be going to a centralized location on its own with any regularity. So as far as the dyad quoted at the top of the post goes, I guess you have to be the judge of who might be more accurate.