Category Archives: Media

GOP Gets Well-Deserved Smack for Holding Up Bundy Family as “Patriots”

Conservatives begin backing away after Cliven Bundy’s remarks disparaging ‘the Negro’ (via Raw Story )

Republican politicians began backtracking on their support of Nevada anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy after the New York Times caught Bundy making racially-inflammatory remarks blaming African-Americans for willingly submiting to dependency on federal…

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White Is the Default Skin Color

Ann Althouse, feather-weighting in on the hysteria generated at Faux News by Aisha Harris’s Slate piece about Santa Claus being depicted as a white man (bolds mine):

Merritt informs us that Jesus, being a first-century Jew, probably had dark skin. Jews are not white? One ceases to be white if one’s skin is sufficiently dark? It may be silly to use the term “white” to label people by race, but white is a big category, and it includes a pretty broad spectrum of skin colors, such as, for example, the “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman. Maybe we should call Jesus a “white Semitic” to heighten the awareness of the subcategories of whiteness. Is that what Jonathan Merritt requires to avoid falling into “serious error”? Megyn Kelly was arguing for less racialism, and Merritt is arguing for more.

“Merritt informs us” refers to an article at The Atlantic today by Jonathan Merritt, taking Fox’s Megyn Kelly to task for “bad history and bad theology“:

Fox News television host Megyn Kelly told viewers on her December 11 broadcast that Jesus and Santa are both white men.

“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?”

Fox News television host Megyn Kelly told viewers on her December 11 broadcast that Jesus and Santa are both white men.”Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change,” Kelly said. “Jesus was a white man, too. It’s like we have, he’s a historical figure that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy in the story and change Santa from white to black?”

Setting aside the ridiculousness of creating rigidly racial depictions of a fictitious character that does not actually exist—sorry, kids—like Santa, Kelly has made a more serious error about Jesus. The scholarly consensus is actually that Jesus was, like most first-century Jews, probably a dark-skinned man. If he were taking the red-eye flight from San Francisco to New York today, Jesus might be profiled for additional security screening by TSA.

Harris’s original article is here, and a follow-up, published today, is here.

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The Thoreau Answer

The story goes that when Henry David Thoreau’s friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, came to visit Thoreau after he was jailed for refusing to pay taxes in protest against slavery, Emerson asked his friend, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau’s reply: “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?”

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Without Fear of or Favor to Any Person

Marcy Wheeler uses her sharp knife to cut up Keith Alexander’s defense of NSA in the New York Times — and David Sanger and Thom Shanker for repeating most of his lies unchallenged — and eats them both for dinner (quoted in full because Marcy’s masterful dissection cannot be dissected):

Less than 10 days ago, Keith Alexander admitted to Patrick Leahy that the single solitary case in which the phone dragnet proved critical was that of Basaaly Moalin. But that was not an attack. Rather, it was an effort to send money to al-Shabaab (and others) because they were protecting Somalia against a US backed Ethiopian invasion.

And yet two crack “journalists” used this as the lead of their “interview” with Alexander with not a hint of pushback.

The director of the National Security Agency, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, said in an interview that to prevent terrorist attacks he saw no effective alternative to the N.S.A.’s bulk collection of telephone and other electronic metadata from Americans.

The phone dragnet has never — never! — been more than one tool in preventing any attack, and yet Alexander gets to imply, unchallenged, it is critical going forward.

Instead of actual reporting, we get platitudes like this.

General Alexander was by turns folksy and firm in the interview. But he was unapologetic about the agency’s strict culture of secrecy and unabashed in describing its importance to defending the nation.

That culture is embodied by two installations that greet visitors to Fort Meade. One is a wall to honor N.S.A. personnel killed on overseas missions. The other is a tribute to the Enigma program, the code-breaking success that helped speed the end of World War II and led to the creation of the N.S.A. The intelligence community kept Enigma secret for three decades.

The only thing remotely resembling a challenge came when these “reporters” note Alexander’s claim to have willingly shut down the Internet metadata program (which the NSA has largely kept secret, in spite of having been disclosed) ignores NSA claims it (like the phone dragnet now, purportedly) was critical.

But he said the agency had not told its story well. As an example, he said, the agency itself killed a program in 2011 that collected the metadata of about 1 percent of all of the e-mails sent in the United States. “We terminated it,” he said. “It was not operationally relevant to what we needed.”

However, until it was killed, the N.S.A. had repeatedly defended that program as vital in reports to Congress.

The rest consists of more of the same kind of rebuttal by redefinition. The claim that NSA shares data with Israel is wrong, this “journalism” says, because “the probability of American content in the shared data was extremely small” (which of course says nothing about the way it would violate minimization procedures in any case). The claim that NSA launched 200 offensive cyberattacks in 2011 is wrong because many of those were actually other “electronic missions.” Besides, Alexander claims,

“I see no reason to use offensive tools unless you’re defending the country or in a state of war, or you want to achieve some really important thing for the good of the nation and others,” he said. [my link, for shits and giggles]

We are not now nor were we in 2006 when StuxNet started “in a state of war” with Iran, so how credible are any of these claims?

Mostly though, this appears to be an attempt, four months after highlighting the importance of PRISM against cyberattacks but then going utterly silent about that function, to reassert the importance of NSA’s hacking to prevent hacking.

Even there, though, Alexander presented dubious claims that got no challenge.

General Alexander said that confronting what he called the two biggest threats facing the United States — terrorism and cyberattacks — would require the application of expanded computer monitoring. In both cases, he said, he was open to much of that work being done by private industry, which he said could be more efficient than government.

In fact, he said, a direct government role in filtering Internet traffic into the United States, in an effort to stop destructive attacks on Wall Street, American banks and the theft of intellectual property, would be inefficient and ineffective.

“I think it leads people to the wrong conclusion, that we’re reading their e-mails and trying to listen to their phone calls,” he said.

The NSA already is filtering Internet traffic into the United States (and also searching on and reading incidentally collected Internet traffic without a warrant) under Section 702 certificates supporting counterterrorism, counterproliferation and … cyberattacks.

But nosiree, Alexander can’t envision doing what he’s already doing — and had been doing in a way that violated statute and the Fourth Amendment for three years already by 2011 — in the name of protecting the banksters who’ve gutted our economy. Only all of that — including the retention of US person data in the name of protecting property (presumably including intellectual property) is baked right into the NSA’s minimization procedures.

And that bit about violating Section 702 and the Fourth Amendment for over three years with a practice that was also baked into NSA’s minimization procedures? Here’s the claim the NYT’s crack journalists allow Alexander to end this charade with.

“We followed the law, we follow our policies, we self-report, we identify problems, we fix them,” he said. “And I think we do a great job, and we do, I think, more to protect people’s civil liberties and privacy than they’ll ever know.

And this is the same David Sanger who complained, in a report prepared by the Committee to Protect Journalists, that “this is the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered.” Apparently, Sanger thinks it’s wrong to stonewall reporters but doesn’t feel the need to challenge government sources in his actual reporting.

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October 13, 2013 · 12:22 pm

Ready for Four More Years of George W. Bush?

That’s what you’ll get if Mitt Romney is elected. Who sez? The Republican National Committee, that’s who:

During an interview last week on The Fernando Espuelas Show, Alexandra Franceschi, Specialty Media Press Secretary of the Republican National Committee, said that the Republican party’s economic platform in 2012 is going to be the same as it was during the Bush years, “just updated.”

More at Think Progress.

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Business As Usual, Breitbart Style

The folks at Breitbart.com released a video (details here) purporting to show that Barack Obama was/is closely associated with a well-known former Harvard University law professor (Derrick Bell, now deceased) who espoused and taught a theory of race relations called Critical Race Theory. CRT is usually preceded by the word “controversial,” although it shouldn’t be, because all it says, very basically, is that racism is so ingrained in American institutions that law, or at least law alone, is not sufficient to address racial inequities. There is, of course, a lot more to it — here is a scholarly essay from the UCLA School of Public Affairs, and a more popularly written one at Wisegeek.com — but at its core this is close to being just common sense for any reasonably informed and educated adult person who grew up in the United States. It’s certainly not pleasant, and certainly it can be debated and challenged, but it’s hardly a shockingly outrageous idea.

Anyway, it turns out that the video was creatively edited, and doesn’t even show, when viewed without the cuts, what the Breitbart people claim it shows. That, too, is nothing new.

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Rush Limbaugh Has Lost 32 Advertisers So Far

The most recent departures include Netflix and Capital One. A complete list as of March 6 is here.

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