Saturday, January 12, 2013

Serious Criticism

Briefly. As Saturday is a free day where I get the chance to actually do some stuff that needs to get done, to get outside and cut some wood, and stack it, and finally cut that cedar sapling that scrapes the right side of the truck every damn time we drive out, and sits a far far cry from the house and the saw, and thus to this moment remains, oblivious, nature encroaching on order and symmetry.

Sheila O'Malley's wonderful website,
which should be read as frequently as possible, cites the following excellent critical analysis of Zero Dark Thirty, which you should read more than once.

It seems like even liberals, who ought to know way better, are prone to fall into the same holes when it comes to certain issues. But didn't we learn, and learn for good, that art is not served by being bent entirely to political ends? And haven't we also learned the difference between understanding that liberal, i.e., nuanced truth, and (for example) seeing the stale "but what is an assault weapon, really?" trope trotted out once again and again by every apologist for unfettered gun marketing who currently battles down the stone stairs with Errol Flynns so obviously right that their fate, skewered on the marble below, seems literally preordained. The NRA and its supporters are exactly what Piers Morgan has termed them: the murder weapon lobby. The efforts at chaff-making are so obvious that when LaPierre tries to shift the focus to our problem with crazy folks, crazy folks threatening to shoot anyone who might take away their gun pop up out of the wood works before he can plunk down his QEDs and slink away to the next media appearance. One wonders if Mr. Limbaugh could ever be cited for shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre, and closed down or sued shut and Guantanamoed. Did you know that Fox News isn't allowed in Canada? Up there they have a law about lying on the teevee. Maybe we ought to look into that.

Sadly here in NC our new Gov. rushes as fast as he can in the utterly wrong direction. He's put Art Pope in his cabinet (bought and paid for I'd guess). This week he called for a voter ID law on his desk. And four of our Congresspersons, all Republicans, voted against Hurricane Sandy Relief. This in a state that knows the big 'canes by name and memory, and even has a hockey team called the Hurricanes. Fifteen years ago, here in the Piedmont some 200 or so miles inland, thousands of trees came down (40 on my little place I estimated), power was out in some places for several weeks, thousands of houses were damaged, some fatally. That was Fran. Back when I was a kid there was Hazel, which destroyed Carolina Beach but also gave Raleigh a pretty good whack. More recently, Floyd, which drowned thirty or so folks when the highways flooded unexpected two days after the storm had passed. The town of Tarboro was entirely cut off, an island, for more than a week. Hurricane Isabel cut a new inlet through Hatteras Island. On it goes, and stay tuned for this coming season. And our Republican congressmen, some of them, voted against hurricane relief? "WTF" as the kids say.

Which might be the title of this picture Sheila O'Malley posted on her site recently, from her wonderful photo essay on Memphis this winter:

I took a photo this week as well. It's at the top of the page, and feels wintry.


Sunday Update:

On Digby this morning, the following quote, from Ronald Reagan in the late '70s, when for a time he had a little daily radio show. We might recall that it was only a few years after this national remark that Mr. Reagan was seriously wounded by an assassin, while surrounded by the Secret Service. His Press Secretary, Mr. Brady, was shot in the head and spent the rest of his life in much the state of Congressperson Giffords today. Brady's wife undertook the battle of reforming our absurd legal framework for guns, and mostly has lost battle after battle to the NRA, which took up Mr. Reagan's "common sense" point of view:

“Now, that’s funny,” he said of Levy’s proposal. “It seems to me that the best way to deter murderers and thieves is to arm law-abiding folk and not disarm them…. as news story after news story shows, if the victim is armed, he has a chance—a better chance by far than if he isn’t armed. Nobody knows in fact how many crimes are not committed because criminals know a certain store owner has a gun—and will use it.” So the attorney general of the United States, Reagan said, “should encourage homeowners and business people to purchase them and learn how to use them properly.”

He concluded that first broadcast foreshadowing so much NRA rhetoric to come: “After all, guns don’t make criminals. It’s criminals who make use of guns. They’re the ones who should be punished—not the law-abiding citizen who seeks to defend himself.”

The Secret Service is probably the best trained law enforcement agency in the land. If we were to put Secret Service agents at every school in the country, we would most likely be able to do nothing else with our tax dollars. There is a reason such elite forces are small in number. Or possibly more than one reason--as well as the sheer cost, there's also the simple fact that only so many folks are capable of being a Secret Service agent, or a Navy Seal. To reiterate--the facts are that Reagan's would-be assassin managed to hit Mr. Reagan and several other people before he was captured. Thus was Reagan hoisted on his own petard so to speak. And yet even now Reagan's literally disproved "solution" to gun violence is proffered by the NRA and other gun fetishists.

This is as close to the case of Mickey Mantle and cigarettes as it gets. (For them what's too young, Mr. Mantle smoked Camels, sometimes in the outfield, and advertised for them, whilst hitting more homers than anyone since Babe Ruth, and without the benefit of steroids. After his glorious youth, Mr. Mantle's "vices" caught up with him in his 60s, and he died from a mixture of cancer and heart disease, the two main long-term effects of smoking. There were also some long-term effects of hard drinking which Mantle suffered. One might then compare our country's reaction to the growing understanding of the health issues connected to smoking and drinking, versus our reaction to the growing slaughter. Hmmm... Let's see. In 2005 we exempted the weapons manufacturers from any liability consequences. What geniuses we are.)

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