Brody, as everyone except his perpetually furrowed-brow daughter (who, as a result of her occupation of worry about her father, her family and all of humanity, will have physically aged 86 years by Easter) calls him, spent eight years in captivity. Horrible captivity, according to the story. Like the kind of shit (literally, I suppose) you see in “Human Centipede” films or in Senator John McCain’s eyes when he gets really really angry.
When Brody was released by a fictional al-Qaeda leader and returned to the nation of his birth, the writers of Homeland on Showtime gave him what seemed like about a week of odd behavior (masturbating to his topless wife, shooting deer in his backyard during a neighborly get together) and psychological adjustment (cowering in a corner for half-a-day, shooting a freaking deer with a freaking handgun his backyard during a neighborly get together) before pushing him forth unto a small block party of low-totem reporters camped in front of his single-story, suburban Virginia home.
And so the war hero commences his premeditated publicity tour of America, gaining support from the people in order that his final scene be more dramatic and poignant and painful and meaningful for as much of the populous as he can grab, not just for his family, not only for those that knew him. Brody commences with grace and posture completely mysterious for someone who’d been dragged from a dim sandy cell six weeks prior by a team of Navy Seals (or Marines or Rangers; I don’t recall if the mission or unit was ever explained in detail).
Herein lies both the beauty and the problem of Homeland: watching, I’m appalled and incredulous that only one person within the entire Central Intelligence Agency (which I can only assume (hope) is chock with enough psych profilers and PhDs and counter-intelligence dorks to populate Guam) recognizes that Brody’s behavior, his ability to turn around so quickly from darkness to sunlight, is atypical for someone who will inevitably deal with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), if he isn’t already.
Brody underwent torture in one form or another (physical or non-physical) for each second of the eight years he was in captivity, whether he was in a cave in the mountains or an eight-bedroom Mosul version of the McMansion. Subsequently, returning home to the US, one would expect him to display the usual symptoms of PTSD: insomnia and irritability, hyper-vigilance and startle, inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma, diminished interest or participation in significant activities, sense of foreshortened future, can’t feel love, and so on.
However, not one character in the show – not Saul, not Crazy Carrie (and yes, I recognize to form an argument about what fictional people think is odd) – seems to recognize that the reason Brody doesn’t display many of the signs of PTSD (or does, but not any more markedly than your everyday depressed person) is because the trauma for Brody has not ended.
Not only is Brody still at war, he’s still being tortured.
Whether or not he’s being physically harmed at the moment is not an issue. As found by Dr. Metin Basoglu of King's College, University of London, and his colleagues in 2007, “Physical torture was not significantly associated with PTSD or depression, suggesting that both physical and non-physical treatments caused the conditions [of PTSD] at similar rates.” And Brody is certainly being fucked with by everyone around him.
And that is the beauty. While we, as viewers are guided to believe that PTSD has kicked in with Brody and his irrational behavior is the result of the typical POW returning to the typical life in suburbia USA, the writers and producers of the show are giving us one of the most intriguing fictionalizations of a human mind at war.
In most films or movies about War, the setting is the theater of war – they are in Baghdad (The Hurt Locker) or Kuwait (Jarhead) or Korangal Valley (Restrepo). But in Homeland the war is brought to the American quotidian, and that should cause most US denizens at least some dissonance. Brody is fighting viscerally within the commonplace, the everyday, the normal – from the politics, to the dropping kids at school, to the marital strife, to the house parties – those at which no deer are shot with handguns in the backyard. He is being tortured before our eyes, nearly with every breath he takes.
The display is a testament to the creators and writers of the show. That they also managed to build something that is not only award-winning but extremely popular, is icing. But there’s a catch: what his so popular is what we just discussed, the actual subject matter of the show, the exhibition of torture.
At a time when so many Americans are against US military action around the globe and call for the closure of the political detention center at Guantanamo Bay, it is fascinating that many of those same people are enraptured by a display of human torture every week for their entertainment. While fictional, the scenarios presented in Homeland could easily transpire in reality. Every day. In your friendly, neighborhood warzone.
Loath as I am to admit it, I find I must: the collective conversation about women’s careers coinciding and conflicting with family (the soon to be well known Association of the WCCCF), that was most recently sent incendiary into that good night by Anne-Marie Slaughter’s essay in the Atlantic, is missing the vocal, incredulous, offended counterpoint of an Ayn Rand.
The article, which is long enough and meaty enough to sate the biggest appetite in the evening and carry over to be finished out of tinfoil swan in the morning over fresh coffee, primarily concerns the notion of sacrifice.
"To many men...the choice to spend more time with their children, instead of working long hours on issues that affect many lives, seems selfish," writes Slaughter, who begins the article with eminent gratitude for her husband's parenting. "Male leaders are routinely praised for having sacrificed their personal life on the altar of public or corporate service. That sacrifice, of course, typically involves their family (sic)."
And, slightly less typically, changing their fantasy football rosters on Sundays.
The week the article was published, conservative pundit George Will read another excerpt on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." The passage was basically an extension of the title of the article: Why Women Still Can't Have it All. Will set down his paper, “I’ve got news for her, men can’t have it all either, that’s the nature of life: tragic choices, et cetera.”
The discussion that ensued was typical, almost rote. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) countered, "The reality is that you and I can probably take advantage of our careers far more than women do because they’re more willing to sacrifice their careers for family."
Does that mean women are more willing to sacrifice self, period? More willing to be martyrs? More willing to put any arbitrary person or object or idea above themselves?
Ayn Rand would be breaking puppy skulls all over her evil lair, shouting not only that she could too take that bitch Ann Coulter in a leg wrestling match (as usual), but also that the Becerra definition (one many of us assume) of “sacrifice” is all wrong.
“‘Sacrifice’ does not mean the rejection of the worthless, but of the precious. ‘Sacrifice’ does not mean the rejection of the evil for the sake of the good, but of the good for the sake of the evil. ‘Sacrifice’ is the surrender of that which you value in favor of that which you don’t.
That’s from Atlas Shrugged. It’s part of that waaaaay too long, redundant, 50k-word speech that John Galt gives near the climax. It’s saying that if a woman “sacrifices” her career for family, she internally, tacitly values her career more than she does her family.
Rand, via John Galt, continues:
“If you exchange a penny for a dollar, it is not a sacrifice; if you exchange a dollar for a penny, it is. If you achieve the career you wanted, after years of struggle, it is not a sacrifice; if you then renounce it for the sake of a rival, it is. If you own a bottle of milk and gave it to your starving child, it is not a sacrifice; if you give it to your neighbor’s child and let your own die, it is.”
I mention Ayn Rand is missed in this argument because (choke) I actually like and agree with her (sometimes tedious) definition of “sacrifice,” which in this case provides that women don’t actually sacrifice anything at all when they eschew work for family. I’d like to go further and argue that neither do men when they flip that equation.
Becerra’s breezy supposition undermines the entire basis for Slaughter’s thesis: men are generally more willing to sacrifice their families for their careers. But that’s not accurate; to themselves, they’re not really sacrificing anything; many men seemingly “have it all” because, from their collective, traditionally imbedded, sometimes chauvinistic vantage point, they are focusing on their careers forthe sake of their families. Whether or not that’s true – if you hooked them up to the biggest polygraph ever and subsequently sifted through all the data – is another issue, but because they even pretend that it is the God’s Honest means that it’s not a true sacrifice.
In other words, they’re not putting, say, earning money first, before all else; they’re putting earning money to feed their families first, before all else.
That’s some thick grass to hit from, I know. So, to summarize in my best rainy-Thursday-morning-at-home-with-the-kids voice: Neither men nor women can bend the laws of time and space to be able to spend 18 hours of a day at work and the other 18 with their children. But, no one should ever believe they’re sacrificing anything for something else. And if that’s what you’re doing, just like Anne-Marie Slaughter did, stop.
Eric waited all day for the results of the men’s 400 Individual Medley at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. He didn’t wake up when his roommates were cheering at 2am for their teammate on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. live coverage. He avoided conversations in the University of Michigan swim team locker room, pool and again in the locker room after 7:30am practice. He lasted through the entire day of classes at the school where Tom Dolan – who, to the best of Eric’s knowledge may have finished anywhere from first to disqual in the IM – matriculated just a few years ago and still swam with the team. Eric heard nothing through an hour and a half of dryland, running, lifting. He stretched and did abdominal work on his own, apart from the group of guys lying on the mezzanine above the pool. He pushed off early or went under water during the following two hours of swimming were anyone to mentioned the Games. He dressed quickly after practice and walked across the parking lots behind Canham Natatorium and Schembechler Hall to his house on White Street where, alone, he made dinner, sat down on the couch and turned on Bob Costas’ primetime NBC coverage. An hour in, his three roommates sitting respectfully at his sides, saying nothing of the event that had taken place nearly a day earlier and 8,000 miles away, the number one network in American announced the Men’s 400 I.M. was up next.
Eric was excited to see what happened.
Around the time NBC was coming back from commercial and Costas was giving his requisite background info on the swimmers about to race – Dolan was the favorite, the world record-holder since 1994; but he was now “past his prime;” there was a chance that he wouldn’t even medal – Scott, who had finished eighth in the 200m Breaststroke at Olympic Trials that year, walked into the living room, looked at the TV and announced with all innocence and amazement, “Can you guys believe Dolan won and broke the world record, again!”
Twelve years later, thanks to the universally acknowledged and almost historically crappy London 2012 coverage from NBC, Scott is able to commiserate with Eric.
“Fucking NBC,” Scott wrote in an email earlier this week. “I wait all day to watch the finals (Eric Style) and the commercial before they air Missy Franklin's 100 – they advertise tomorrow morning’s show where they have ‘behind the scenes footage of Missy winning her first Gold medal.’
“You have to be kidding.
“Sent from my iPhone”
Another former UM swimmer and team captain copied on the email agreed. In response:
“Yeah my buddy Michael P-------- told me that the other night he had waited all day to watch the 400 IM (stayed away from internet), then, leading into primetime, Brian Williams announces that Lochte won the USA's first gold. Haha. This coverage is brutal.”
It’s one thing to air highlights in primetime. This is something NBC has always done (see note above from 2000 when the CBC carried the Games live and NBC sat on their footage for a day). Admittedly, it’s something that should have been rethought for 2012 given how quickly and widely information travels today, even compared to 2008. The tendency away from Live has sparked a now well-covered backlash across America and, well, the world, for some reason – even causing NBC to ask Twitter to shut down the account of a writer from the Independent.
Not seeing things live, especially sports sucks. Given: it’s much better to see athletic competitions while they happen, even better to see them while they happen with a bunch of people, even better to see them while they happen, with a bunch of people at the actual event. Fine. But.
That there are different levels of “live” means that live is not really the issue we’re all so upset about, at all. We’re all very good at pretending we live in our solipsistic worlds of DVR and TiVo. I have no problem convincing myself that “The Bachelor” finale didn’t really happen yet and that when I get back home on Sunday, I can see with utter and genuine excitement which of the fame-rabid shanks the current douchebag chooses to date for the next three weeks before their inevitable split is brought to me just as “live” in the checkout aisle of Kroger.
The bigger problem with NBC’s London Games coverage is ego.
The form of highlight coverage for which NBC-Universal opts is actually viable, particularly on the media behemoth’s biggest network. They could air events throughout the day on any of their subsidiaries (Bravo, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, etc.) and have an explicit understanding with America that they would provide the best of the best, in-depth, well-analyzed, well-produced, well-presented coverage every evening from 8pm – midnight EDT on NBC, all while never mentioning anything else about the Games on their network, period, save local news coverage (but, really, just don’t watch local news at all and, I promise, your life will go on and you’ll be fine without the knowledge that the Minnetrista fire dept. is having a bake sale this Sunday at 3pm).
The problem with NBC’s Olympics is the same problem CNN had during the primary elections when they called the wrong victor and the same problem ABC News had during their coverage of the Aurora theater shootings when Brian Ross reported that “Jim Holmes” of Aurora, Colo. might have ties to the Tea Party. In all of these cases, it’s nothing more than the worrisome, panicky need of all news organizations to be the first to bring you the exclusive story that you won’t hear anywhere else.
There is no need for Brian Williams to congratulate Ryan Lochte on his win in the 400 I.M. I realize it’s hard for an anchor to withhold news when there is news to give, but, perhaps, that’s the lesson we need to take out of this.
Instead of Williams vamping how cool he is that he knows what happened in the pool today, wouldn’t it be even cooler if he were to warm it up by saying something to the effect of, “An amazing race today in London between Ryan Lochte and world record-holder Michael Phelps – and don’t count China out, either. One of the best races you’ll ever see, in just a bit.”
Being first doesn’t make you cool. Being cool makes you cool. Concentrate on brining us good coverage and, after that’s done, we’ll talk about timing.
Hope y’all enjoy the Games today. Missy Franklin wins the 100 Free, Phelps comes from behind in the 200 I.M., Wang Hao loses the ball for 20 minutes in table tennis, a gun is fired in shooting, and the Russian and Hungarian men’s water polo teams refuse to play until Tehran legalized gay marriage. I think you’re really going to like it.
If you see Lindsay Lohan, please remind her to drink water. And sleep. And, just to cover your ass, remind her to breathe.
Elle-Elle likes to live so extreme that she doesn’t have time to remember to eat or sleep (or much else besides drive erratically and frequently back and forth between Manhattan Beach and Malibu), even if she puts a reminder to do so in her BlackBerry Bold. As a result, she was found sleeping in her hotel room.
Quick. Someone call someone. An actress is using her hotel room to catch some zzzzzzzzzz’s.
Last week, call someone is what someone did – more accurately a producer and 9-1-1, according to Just Jared. The producer was concerned when LL didn’t show up for her final shoot of the day... and… cue the paramedics pounding on the 25-year-old part time-redhead actress’ door to save her from exhaustion by waking her up.
"Lindsay has been working a grueling schedule for the last couple of days," Lohan’s rep told the E! News website. "She was exhausted and went back to her room to sleep. Producers were apparently concerned and called the fire department and paramedics found her sleeping but determined that she was fine, just extremely exhausted and slightly dehydrated."
Imagine an existence in which, every time you oversleep, someone calls the paramedics because they think you O.D.’d. Imagine an existence in which you’re in the top five of every "Next Celebrity to Die" office pool and in which every major television network has had In Memoriam packages on your life, ready to go at a moment’s notice, since you were twenty-one. Imagine an existence in which your simply showing up stamps pleasant surprise across the damp visages of your coworkers.
Of course, you’ve built a history to earn this bemusement with your mere presence. And that’s the wonderfully fascinating thing about the Reality of Lindsay Lohan. Her reality is anti-reality. She has conditioned the rest of us to disbelieve when the sun rises. She has inverted the colors of the sky and the grass. She has caused us to start to expect lions to bark and cheeseburgers to fall from lampposts and libertarians from Texas’ 14th congressional district to think they’ve got a shot at the GOP nomination for President of the United States of America.
Lindsay Lohan has made normal crazy and crazy normal. It's like she's telling David Hume to go fuck himself.
When she retires to her hotel room after a long few days of work and falls asleep for a little too long (please, let’s forget about the dehydration; chances are, you’re dehydrated right now, as well; drink a fucking Snapple) and misses call, she gets her Marina Del Ray door clubbed by the rocky right fist of a burly, hygienically dubious, volunteer EMT.
Lohan was impressed, it seemed, with how far into normal she’d pushed crazy.
"Note to self.." LiLo tweeted (and all of this is sic over two Twitter posts), "After working 85hours in 4days, and being up all night shooting, be very aware that you might pass out from exhaustion & 7 paramedics MIGHT show up @ your door.... Hopefully theyre cute. Otherwise it would be a real let down. XL @mrsalperez -back on set"
Her shock was, shockingly, warranted.
Let a girl sleep! She (according to her) is getting three hours of sleep per night on a goddam Lifetime movie. That’s the same network that brought you abused wife made-for-TV films for the first 25 years of its broadcast life and the network that’s brought you Project Runway and Jennifer Love Hewitt’s boobs for the past 3 years. Another Lifetime Original Movie shouldn’t be Navy Seal Hell Week – it should be a week of working drunk because not one person on set of the production (other than the Lifetime execs, maybe, and I guarantee this) can name the number channel Lifetime is on their cable.
But that’s just another way Linds has altered reality: on top of using her hotel room to sleep and being oddly sober, she’s made Lifetime TV productions seem important. It’s all terribly disconcerting.
Hopefully, the paramedics were cute. God, please at least let that be a constant.
I can't decide if David Gregory is a good interviewer.
I am writing over a series of ten to twelve texts to a friend on Sunday morning.
I feel like he gets upset with his guests because he thinks he should; never for the right reasons.
Yeah, I'm the asshole who uses semi-colons in text messages.
And I'm watching him interview Jamie Dimon now and all I want is ONE follow-up in which he (Dave G.) asks if Jaime is one of the bankers on WS that would be willing to pay higher capital gains taxes (Dimon is talking in 3rd person, saying things like, 'There are a lot of bankers on Wall Street who would like to pay higher capital gains taxes') or in which he asks WHO on WS the gov't should go after (following Dimon saying that there were, indeed, certain bankers on Wall Street who should *paraphrase* pay the price *end paraphrase*).
I text very quickly on my BlackBerry handheld device.
Oh My God. Davey G. actually accurately corrected Sen. Levin about JPMorgan!
I don't receive a response to any of my texts until mid-afternoon. And then she writes back only:
yea...david gregory looks like a monkey to top it off...
I wait until the following week (because, it turns out, you have to) and then I watch "Meet the Press" again. This time, DG teases a segment with, "What would happen if the election were held today? I'll ask my panel when we come back."
I'm furiously trying to find a sports simile for this. It's not like Charles Barkley (the commentator version, not the power forward or the dude from Weight Watchers) wondering after the first 22 minutes of a Heat-Pacers game who would win if the game ended now. It's not exactly like Rowdy Gaines, curious in the middle of a 400m freestyle at the London Olympic Games, who would come out ahead if they stopped swimming after 250 meters. It's most accurately like boxing. But it's not like any boxing match. It's particularly like the 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
I don't mean to compare either candidate to either fighter, just David Gregory's eye-roll inducing question to the situations.
If you would have asked, "What would happen if the fight ended right now?" after round 3, you would answer, Foreman wins. If you would have asked after Round 5, Foreman wins. After round 7, Foreman wins. If you would ask, "What would happen if we ended the fight at two minutes and 45 seconds into round 8?" Foreman wins.
Fifteen seconds later, Ali won the match.
Tease questions like Gregory's are intended to do exactly that, tease. But the supposition that it matters at all what would happen were the election held today is banal and useless. Elections aren't like basketball games in which each team performs to the precision of their abilities for the entire 48 minutes. Nor are they comparable to a mid-distance race in which one guy may be saving himself for the second half, but in which he is not using his opponent’s energy at that opponent's peril.
In elections you have to take hits and you have to know when to hit back and where to hit back and sometimes even why to hit back.
If Obama loses in November, it will most likely be because his team in Chicago hit back too soon, at a time when they should have continued taking the body shots (punches to the abdomen, not the secret service kind of body shots) and didn’t follow the advice I’m sure Homer Simpson would give if he were doing a Sun-Tzu impression: Never fight emotionally.
A more appropriate question is something to the effect of: What punches are left in each candidate's arsenal and when will they be thrown and will they land?
If Romney loses in November, it will most likely be because he feigned at hitting Obama's proverbial gonads with something like a Swift Boat shot. But, the likelihood of Romney pulling that punch is tantamount to Dr. Dre admitting East Coast for Life, Muthafucka! and setting up a new studio in Greenwich, Conn.
Gov. Romney is more capable of making sweet pulp of Obama than was Sen. John McCain because Romney innately lacks the basic human characteristics (probity, empathy, authenticity, restraint from attacking and mocking a homosexual high school student (an incident that will, sadly, be on exactly zero minds in the enclosed booths on November 6)) that McCain embodied when he told a fringe lunatic at a rally that Barack Obama is not, contrary to all logic and obvious empirical turbanical evidence, "an Arab."
This election may be "about the economy" but David Gregory should not be asking about the Romney economic plan. He should be asking about the man implementing the putative plan and why should he be trusted.
Now, back to Meet the Press. And if I text you invective followed by OMG WHO THE F CARES!!!, don't be alarmed because, if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.
I wonder what George Stephanopoulos is up to right now.
“First of all,” a slightly kidding, moderately sardonic and more-or-less pissed-off David Letterman said directly to the camera and more directly to then Republican presidential candidate John McCain, “The road to the White House runs right through me.”
With a floppy Keith Olbermann at his right hand, Letterman was in his stride on a 20-plus minute John McCain Diatribe the night that the senator canceled an appearance on his (Letterman’s) “Late Show” program in September 2008 with the excuse that he (McCain) was rushing to catch a flight to Washington to attempt to avert or minimize (or something) the calamitous financial situation that would prove, quite historically of course, to be less avoidable or controllable than even a humongous government-woven money fire blanket could assuage, let alone the suspension of a faltering presidential campaign.
Whether or not Dave was kidding when he placed himself between a contender and the White House is immaterial. What’s important is that a) it was funny and b) it is true.
The importance of the talk show appearance – particularly on late night talk shows where candidates can exude a bit more edge and personality, and particularly in an election year – cannot be overstated. It can burn or bolster a candidate. It can humanize or demonize, add or detract.
Myriad research has been done on the “Late Night Effect” – which indicates the ability for information and entertainment to temporarily fuse and reach and extended audience by imbuing info and by doing it in a manner easy to grasp – as well as on what makes a good talk show appearance.
One of the more recent studies was explained by Michael Parkin, an associate professor of politics at Oberlin College, who transcribed 84 talk show interviews of politicians from 1994 to 2008.
“I think there is some sort of political value of getting people who might otherwise not be so interested in politics actually interested through this medium,” Parkin said. “It doesn’t just get them interested in a superficial way; it gets them actually interested because they hear about real policies.”
President Barak Obama visited with Jimmy Fallon last month to talk about student loans policy. The information was presented as a slow-jam, backed by The Roots, which is comparable to putting an antibiotic pill in the middle of a glob of peanut butter so that a dog will eat it. But it worked.It works.Kids (meaning 18-25 year olds) pay attention.
So when someone like Ann Coulter goes on Sean Hannity the day after the president’s appearance and says, “I don't know what Obama is gonna do. Is he gonna keep going on silly late night TV shows? With shockingly few viewers by the way,” it doesn’t make much sense. (Shocker.) Coulter claimed that even the lowest rated Fox News Channel show had four times as many glazed-over eyeballs as Fallon. But, even if that were true, it wouldn’t matter.
Not only does Fallon get play over and over and over again on this amazing new medium known only as the internet, but the information is presented in a way that causes familiarity and possibly leads to the desire of wanting to learn more.
And that’s been around for a while.What’s new (and utterly exciting) is the ability of talk shows not just to present information in a digestible form, but to protect us from false information (aka: embellishments, fictions, straight up lies).
From Letterman crapping on McCain’s Save-the-Day Parade, to last night’s “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” in which the host was able to lead a segment with a term straight out of freshman year psych class (without losing half his viewership!) and go on to explain why presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney taking credit for Obama’s achievements with the auto industry is abject rat feces.
What warms my heart late at night as I lie in bed wondering what will happen if the Soviets attack us and we haven’t elected Mitt Romney in time to protect us is that a certain talk show pointed out that, oh yeah, there are no Soviets anymore.
No longer will political spin and demagoguery and “I never said that” be reasonable.
No more will Swiftboating a candidate into shame be possible against the checks and balances of Dave and Jon and Ellen and Conan and Katie and Jimmy…and Jimmy.
Never again will a candidate get away with theatrically suspending his campaign without an acerbic host shouting from behind a desk at a live-feed monitor, “Hey, John, I got a question. You need a ride to the airport?”
How the question came to be printed in the March 25 NewYork Times The Magazine has a number of plausible geneses. In one, three Times employees are standing around a fourth’s cubicle talking about lunch. One talks about ordering a pastrami sandwich from Carnegie. Another talks about if the first even knows what kind of animal pastrami once was. The first says she doesn’t care, it’s delicious. Number three maybe postulates how it’s interesting that that is always a meat-eater’s reason for meat-eating: it’s delicious. While arguments abound for not eating meat, none of the Times employees can, off the tops of their hungry little heads, come up with an argument for why, in this time and country of soybean plenty, consuming animals is ethical. I wondering if anyone can, says the first.
Or: every semester for the past N years, Prof. Peter Singer has posed this question to his introductory ethics classes down at Princeton University. Why is it ethical to eat meat? And since 2012 - N, nary a bushy-tailed sophomore has been able to offer Singer a satisfactory answer. And because he’s not getting any younger and because he’s a fan of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Singer decided to poll the audience of the New York Times.
Don’t tell us why you like meat, asked the newspaper, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.
The conundrum is a bunch of pink slime.
Ethical meat-eating defines ethics for animals, rather than reserving use for human-on-human interaction, those that are capable of ought.
We'll get back to that.
First, let's start with what isn't at stake:
I'm guessing the conundrum wasn't posed to argue etymology or semantics.
Neither, I hope, should the intent of the question be to draw out the amateur biologist, masses of liberal-elite, wannabe-intelligentsia Googling exactly "how is animal protein different from plant protein?" because, either, they never learned in or forgot since their second-rate educations in their third-tier universities.
And I don't suppose we want six hundred word answers that quote from "Beyond Good and Evil" as arguments for the abject futility of such questions.
It comes down to the trite: Why should we condone the consumption of other sentient beings if human survival is not dependent on their consumption, and the do-unto-others excuse doesn't apply because a) these sentient beings, if carnivorous, are not conscious enough to be considered moral, or b) the sentient beings we're consuming are not, they themselves, consuming other sentient beings at all. It's a question of drawing lines.
Then, immediately, regrettably, we must take this to: Are you a Pro-Life advocate?
The answer is important because the Abortion Issue is also without absolute ethics (especially if, like Peter Singer, your gondola floats down a utilitarian canal; these issues are simply too LARGE for utilitarianism to handle) and has two sides, defined as clearly, at least, as Tastes Great and Less Filling.
If your answer is yes, I do advocate that life begins at conception and all zygotes are sentient beings conscious and capable of feeling (though not of complex thought on a necessarily human level), you are qualified to believe eating meat is unethical; just as the animals we eat satisfy the two conditions set forth three paragraphs ago, so do (most) zygotes and embryos we evacuate prematurely ex utero.
If you answer no, you are logically obligated to project the sanctity you hold dear for a woman's body and a woman's decisions to a human's body and a human's decisions. This isn't to say "your food is yours to choose." It means that others' food is theirs to choose.
Further, this condition shuts out the lack-of-human-survival-necessity case against meat. The survival of humanity is no more dependent on meat than it is on a woman aborting an embryo. And, if that's incorrect, we have a new standard by which irony is measured, which would be, like this question is, a bunch of pink slime.
This question is pink slime because it's not a question at all. It's an argument wearing a cheap question Halloween costume. You can't ask a why is meat ethical and then say: but don't tell us why you like meat, or why your cows are raised happy, or why you're a libertarian...or why meat is a family tradition, or why working in the consumer meat industry is your livelihood, or why you burn copies of Charlotte's Web when you're not malevolently tipping slumbering bovines. Just tell us what we want to hear.
The question is at least a fallacy and at most borderline petitio principii.
Fact is: all of the aforementioned, before-the-fact discarded reasons are, by definition, ethical reasons. Now if only we could define ethics.
The word [ethics] itself is sometimes used to refer to the set of rules, principles, or ways of thinking that guide, or claim authority to guide, the actions of a particular group; and sometimes it stands for the systematic study of reasoning about how we ought to act (Singer, "Ethics," 1994; underline added).
This article was reported and written before Mr. Shadid’s death in Syria is how Anthony Shadid’s first article published by the New York Times since his passing starts. Before an asthma attack took his life while on assignment in Syria, Shadid profiled Said Ferjani, the man at the metaphorical helm of the new ruling party in the Tunisian government, who is fighting for the life of a governing system that he believes can combine the ideals of Islam with those of Democracy. The system has one foot in the west and the other in the farther eastern, further Arab world because, quite appropriately, the movement’s roots are in Morocco and Tunisia, geographically contiguous to Western and Arabic lands.
The movement, says Shadid, exports "ideas that see a synthesis of what the most radical Islamists, along with their many critics here and in the West, still deem irreconcilable: faith and democracy."
And why should they, critic or no, believe that faith and democracy can collaborate to govern? Where has it worked? As the scrum of the GOP nomination daily attacks President Barack Obama for his iniquities against the core of America, which is of course (sometimes implicitly, sometimes explicitly) Christianity, it’s hard to argue that it’s worked in the US.
We’re seeing the Obama administration not only segregating faith, but imposing the Government’s will on churches, Rick Santorum said on "Meet the Press," just one instance of many where GOP hopefuls implied that Barack Obama thinks anyone who believes in anything but the empirical (as Obama himself does) has successfully separated her butt from her proverbial rocker.
Unfortunately, the GOP hopefuls are merely politicizing the act of governing. Take the recent issue presented by the White House: church-run organizations required to provide healthcare, including birth control, to their employees. The field on the right claims that this directive indicated that the President is attacking faith in American (by, presumably, not allowing religious organizations to practice their strict practices) which is certainly possible – but what’s more likely is that the President is democratically attempting to move his constituents (US citizens) towards a collectively more healthful situation.
It’s inarguably a mess of a mess and layered in a way that will take more than eight hundred words to peel back, but it exemplifies how Democracy is a practice of logic and Faith is a practice of values. Logic we use to govern; values we use to choose those who govern.
Democracy is devoid of ethos in a sense that it’s only value is logic. Of course, the dozens of hotheaded lawmakers preaching from the House floor on CSPAN-2 will also vein-poppingly suggest (and, nearly without fail, suggest by quoting the US Declaration of Independence) that (US) Democracy’s ethos comprises such lofty ideals as Liberty and Freedom, which is kinda true but more-so it’s misleading; those ultimate ideals are goals that are achieved by the seminal logic.
It’s as misleading that faith and democracy can be reconciled in any system, meaning it’s not true for only Islamic faith and democracy; they are two completely disparate forces at play in two completely disparate levels of societies – the latter in what we want and the former in how we get it.
Sure they are forces that are unavoidably intertwined and necessary for functional societies and sovereign nations – that does not mean that, for example, faith can be used to make policy decisions; that you "feel something in your gut" or your heart or because your theism dictates it is no reason to govern with a certain style or create regulations in a certain directions.
By this argument, President Obama’s decision to move the aforementioned healthcare regulation to the table at this point, in this election year, is bad governing. As Andrew Sullivan said on Hardball last week, and as the Eleventh Draft has suggested previously, putting birth control at the fore-tongue of the national conversation forced Obama’s opponents further to the right. The bearded Sullivan told host Chris Matthews that the conservative outrage gave Rick Santorum ground to hail vitriol at the President, that he was attacking faith in America (how frequently have we heard this platitude) and that the basic principals upon which this country was founded were, at their core, also under attack and that ground buoyed Santorum above Mitt Romney in more than a few national polls. If those polls accurately predict voting, and Santorum gets the Republican nod, things would be looking very bright indeed for the Obama campaign in the general election.
Given, it was only bad governing if Obama made the decision in order to gain the political advantage Sullivan noted. If so, Obama forced democracy and faith into the same field, unnaturally, threatening not just democracy, but, yes, as Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, the pudgy womanizer from Georgia have all claimed with shaky urgency, faith as well.
THIS EPISODE ORIGINALLY AIRED ON 'THE ELEVENTH DRAFT' ON AUGUST 27, 2008.
All that we need to know about the election, we learned from “Guys and Dolls” in the first song, “Fugue for Tinhorns.”
Listen: "I got the horse right here.The name is Paul Revere.And here’s a guy that says, if the weather’s clear, can do.Can do.This guy says the horse can do."
The song goes on to talk about two other horses, Valentine and Epitaph, who can do – or, in less sing-songy language, can’t lose.If these three horses are running in the same race, this is a contradiction.Of course, the reality that has each of them winning the same race is in the future and, therefore, is still not necessarily inaccurate.
There is the idea of virtue within each of these future horses (even though it cannot be within each of these horses in the future), that virtue being specifically the idea of Victory that will attain fulfillment.Victory is therefore a Form, as Plato would say – e.g. a characteristic of something: a ball, a marble, a rabbit turd are all round.A rabbit turd is a particular that has many Forms.Also according to Plato and his World of Ideas, “Forms are said to be perfect and what particulars strive to be like but fall short of.”
Another way to think of this more simply is as fantasy, defined not as “an unrealistic idea” but as “that which a person wants to happen.”
In the latest issue of Newsweek, Robert Samuelson writes an insightful piece on The Rise of Fantasy Politics.Many, many other writers have covered this topic, citing that both the Obama and McCain plans for the economy are unrealistic and are very unlikely to be implemented.Samuelson takes it a step further.“Elections serve, in civics textbooks, to reach collective decisions about the future,” he writes. “The real world is different. Many campaign proposals are so unrealistic or undesirable that they may never be enacted… All this makes sense only as fantasy politics. Proposals aren't necessarily intended to be adopted. They're selected to win applause and please voters.”
Fantasy and expectation are the core of political campaigning, which makes irony the core of politics.Irony – a situation that is incongruous, often laughably so, with what one expected from reality – is perhaps an unfortunate but also intrinsically necessary consequence of politics.
According to Rod Lurie who wrote The Contender (2000), Napoleon once said there is paucity of great statesmen in the world because in order “to get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness.”George H. W. Bush was an example of this point in 1988 when he proclaimed, "Read my lips: No new taxes."And a similar philosophy is attributed to Jimmy Carter who, when he was running for governor, told a civil rights leader, “You'll hate the way I run but you’ll love the way I govern.”
While Carter ran explicitly on the dichotomy of campaigning and governing, the entire Obama political message and underlying Form is based implicitly on that same dichotomy.
Hope and Change are ideas that are perpetually in the future and, therefore, are always fantasy.It is impossible to ever reach either of these ideas.We cannot reach Hope because Hope is always something that hasn't occured.Change cannot be reached because at present a Thing is whatever that Thing is; it has no other Form.And, if we look at it from the other side and assume that change is constant, that a Thing is continually changing, Change again is never achieved because it is always occurring. (I know that’s an annoying thing to say, sorry.)
Politicians, John McCain included, have always campaigned on fantasy.Nothing new.Consequentially, the goal of the voter should not be insight and dissection of promises, plans, ideas, etc.The goal of the voter should be to evaluate a candidate as a character, as an individual on a psychoanalytical level in order to ascertain what kind of person he or she is and how they will make their decisions in the future.
Fantasy politics is necessary.At best, Plans change constantly and serve simply as examples that a candidate knows what the fuck he’s doing.We all know that doesn’t mean he’ll do it.
Listen to what Robert Samuelson says again: “Elections serve, in civics textbooks, to reach collective decisions about the future.”More accurately, elections serve to reach a collective decision on how we will make decisions in the future.That’s why it’s so important to understand why John McCain allegedly latches on to the last thing that’s told to him before he makes a choice; that’s why it’s so important to understand why Obama wanted a vice president who would challenge him in the White House.
Who we are is a complex Form from which we cannot hide.
Obama makes no attempt to disguise that he is running on fantasy.He says Hope.He says Change.He says that he has the horse right here and, if you trust him, this horse can do.His ideas may not manifest the particulars that they promise, but they will manifest particulars that are good.
Listen: "I got the horse for ya.The name is Obama.And here’s a guy that says, if it’s Change you love, can do.Can do.This guy says the horse can do.If he says the horse can do…can do…can do…"
There should be a tacit understanding in the halls and offices at 1211 Sixth Ave. that, if you want to keep your job, you vote for Barack Obama over whomever his (ill-equipped) Republican opponent may be come Nov. 6, 2012.While ratings for the cable news channel slipped in 2011, it remains the most-watched of all cable news networks for the tenth year in a row (and #4 of all cable networks, thought not for year 10).
The reason: terror and coercion. The same tactics Nicolae Ceausescu used in the 1970s and 80s to mess with the minds of Romanians, are those used by Fox News to bait and trap, field-dress and wall-mount viewers. (If Glenn Beck compares democrats to Nazis over and over and over, why can’t I cite a more esoteric totalitarian state, perhaps in a more accurate (albeit less rhetorically effective (for various reasons, including the fact that more the demagogues talk about Nazis, the more fearsome Nazis become)) form?) It might stop short of brain-washing, but barely.
“Extremism and conflict make for bad politics but great TV,” David Frum (yes that David Frum) wrote in New York Mag. “The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel).”
Without a foreign-born black Muslim in the White House, the ability of a cable news channel to broadcast fear and impending doom and pseudo-nostalgic loss all but evaporates. Sure the ratings for Fox News were down in 2011, but it still remained numero uno of cable news channels, where it has perched for the last ten years, precisely when Americans became marrow-deep, soggy-underpants terrified of anything outside our borders. Which, if I’m not being clear enough, is not a coincidence; there is an explicit art to nurturing and perpetuating fear that Fox News has mastered and President Obama is the network’s most versatile and convincing canvas for this televised exhibit.
What liberals forget in their indignation and incredulity with Bill O’Reilly, Beck, et alii is that Fox News is not an original thought. It’s more of a Reply All email, the original email being the increasingly sappy reporting by the major news networks during the first Clinton administration, the Send button hit in 1996 by Rupert Murdoch and the saggy jowls of Roger Ailes. The Fox New Channel might not be "fair" or "balanced" but you can't say that it doesn't create an overall cable news world that, taken as a whole, is both.
That's why I'm a fan of Fox News. That's why I watch Fox and Friends every morning. That's why, as former President William J. Clinton recently pointed out, the FNC business model works so well it’s being copied by the left in a kind of fight-fire-with-fire gambit.
“I was just watching MSNBC, and they had a woman that used to work for me and a couple of other people on there, and they were talking about the Republican primary,” Clinton told Esquire. “And I was laughing. I said, ‘Boy, it really has become our version of Fox.’ And I say that because…I think the breaking up of the media, which is otherwise kind of healthy, has contributed to less actual reporting and a louder, more contentious, more divisive public discourse, highlighting conflict, sometimes falsely.”
Not only is conflict highlighted (by “sometimes falsely,” I’m assuming the former commander-in-chief meant either that an actual disagreement didn’t exist in some cases, or, in some cases, one of the two sides (or both) was misrepresented), but every minutia of every story is given the gravitas and urgency of the 1969 moon landing.
Just now I was watching the channel, because it’s Sunday morning and on Sunday mornings I enjoy waking up to pomposity, when the violet-clad anchor turned to the story of a capsized cruise ship which was preceded with a shockingly bright intro-graphic that warned viewers to grab their loved ones and head for the nearest fall-out shelter because we’re on high ALERT.
Ok. Now call grandma back and tell her nevermind, gazillions of gaggles of green mutant zombie geese are not in fact migrating towards her Ft. Meyers condo at Boeing 767-level speeds after all.
It turns out the “ALERT!!!” was a another body found among the wreckage of a ship that rammed a reef over a week ago, which makes me excited to see what kinda hyperbolic fireworks and noise-makers they pull out for the mutant zombie geese when they finally come because trust me they will and it will be because you voted for a radical, turban-toting, communist for US President in 2008 and ruined this country irreparably and forever.
If you work for Fox News, you should vote for him again cause mind-altering goose venom and Obamacare’s obvious inability to abate the impending pandemic are absolutely great for ratings.
Jan 6, 2012: More Jobs Mean Nothing; Fewer Jobs Mean Everything
Jobless numbers were released to the press at 8:30am ET on Friday: lowest unemployment in 3 years, 8.5%; the U.S. added an unexpected 200,000 jobs in December, yanking the percentage of people in the workforce who are out of work down by 0.2% in a month.
Mitt Romney was unimpressed. He said in the debate this week:
“What I blame [Obama] for is having it go on so long and going so deep and having a recover that’s been so tepid. Businesses I’ve talked to all over the country that would have been hiring people are not hiring, and I ask them why, and they say because they look at the polices of this administration and they feel like they’re under attack.”
If Romney were elected President in 2008 – and he came so so close – everyone would have had jobs at Staples by March.
“All of this makes for a reality of a president who has been anti-investment, anti-jobs, anti-business,” Romney went on.
Call me a liberal, leftist, lefty, socialist pansy for writing things like this – but: that makes as much sense as claiming that a mother hates her son if she tries to talk him into taking out loans to get a college education.
Obama hates America so much, must be secretly planning a tactical nuclear strike on Wisconsin. I’m sure of it.
Nov 15, 2011: Obama on Tour
Can’t remember where I heard or saw this, but it amused me, so I wrote it in the trusy BlackBerry.
"I've got some stuff I'd like to try out," Obama said. "I want to see what the reaction is."
President Obama was talking about his anticipation of hitting the road again for The 2012 Campaign of Comedy where, evediently, he tries out his latest and greatest “Mitt’s Momma is soooo Fat…” jokes a Larry’s Lounge of Laughs in Peoria, IL, perfecting his delivery and set list before moving to larger venues in the swing states.
Let the hilarity ensue!
Oct 30, 2011: Entering Hog Heaven
Here’s the BB entry: “Leaving Hog Heaven and ‘eat mor chikin’ commercials...weird morbid thinking about carnivores. What would cannibal ads be?”
Here’s the photo:
Here’s the thought: Does anyone else think it’s weird, like creepy weird, that we anthropomorphize the animals we eat?
Chic-fil-A, a chain of fast-food restaurants that deals exclusively (and deliciously) in chicken, runs an ad campaign in which cows travel around pulling stunts encouraging people to “Eat Mor Chikin,” meaning that they (the cows) have a homosapien self-awareness of the bovidae family being slaughtered by the dozens for American dinner tables, as well as the dexterity to turn on light switches and steer (get it?) parachutes into football stadiums, but oddly lack either the will or ability to fight back in any way other than the bovine equivalent of flash mobs. (They also spell at a first grade-level, for what it’s worth.)
The Hog Heaven sign hangs in a bar called Brother Jimmy’s near Union Square, NYC. There they serve up northern, southern or dry rub ribs, St. Louis style half rack of ribs, rib tips (by the bucket), sliced brisket, Carolina pulled pork (platter or sandwich or wrap) and the Brother Jimmy’s Cuban, which comprises sliced smoked pork, buckboard bacon, gruyere cheese and fried pickles. Oh. And black eyed peas – with bacon.
The implication is that when you exit Brother Jimmy’s Union Square you are leaving the place that swine go in the little piggy afterlife, which is, of course, quite literal, but probably not what the pigs had in mind. Let’s face it, those of us that believe in “heaven” don’t, in all likelihood, imagine our paradisiacal next step as a cannibalistic BBQ joint where people with bones in their lower lips hang out, munching on what used to be our collective right hamstring, trading laughs beneath a sign that reads “Y’ALL NOW LEAVING HUMAN HEAVEN.”