Thursday, May 05, 2005

DeLay, Unplugged 

“…in our great country, among the freedoms we celebrate is the freedom to pray as you wish, or not at all."

- Tom DeLay

Finally, we hear some humility, however forced, from the man who has sought to identify the US government and the Republican Party with his own personal savior and ‘righteousness.’ Enough already.

Tom DeLay appears to have finally hit bottom. Perhaps there’s something he can learn from humility without power. I’m not holding my breath, however.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Investigating Torture 

If there was doubt about the culpability of higher-ups in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, an Army judge’s ruling today should help erase them.

The judge, Col. James L. Pohl, found that PFC. Lynndie R. England, the hapless soul who was caught by photographs taken by her superiors with naked Iraqi prisoners at the end of a leash, was as much in the dark about the rights of the prisoners as she was about standing up for herself.

England, who’s high school guidance counselor testified that she was a "compliant personality" who would generally "listen to authority figures," was found not to have been aware that her actions were criminal at the time she committed them. The finding probably won’t get her off in the end (things might actually go worse for her as a result of the ruling), but it might help ensure that evidence of higher ranking officers participation in the torture scheme can be admitted in court martial proceedings.

If there is a silver lining in all this sordidness, it might be that some greater part of the truth comes to light. When Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, and top military brass have made statements implying that the Geneva Convention might be out of date, it could finally be time to follow the resulting prisoner abuse investigation up the chain of command. Let’s hope Judge Pohl means to actually investigate the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib, wherever they lead.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Darfur Waits for Our Compassion 

Nicholas Kristof counts the toll; today is Day 113 of President Bush’s silence on the genocide that occurs on his watch in Darfur.

Kristof reminds us of President Kennedy’s observation that, "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality."

What will it take for our President, our government, to give up this trenchant opposition to giving voice to the obvious? Will it take thousands more deaths? Tens of thousands more? A million?

Don Cheadle, who visited Darfur recently, has pointed out that, unlike in Rwanda, the world knows exactly what is going on there. Troops of the militia currently surround the refugee camps, awaiting only an order to go in, continuing the killing even as they wait. There is no excuse for turning away from this reality.

President Bush, where is your compassion?

Monday, May 02, 2005

More on the Party Line (Republican) at CPB 

Stephen Labaton, Lorne Manly and Elizabeth Jensen report on CPB's Tomlinson in today’s NYTimes. To add to the post here yesterday, check out the study Tomlinson contracted a White House employee to carry out to ‘prove’ bias in Bill Moyer’s Now.

Mr. Rove, Mr. Tomlinson, Mr. Tomlinson, Mr. Rove. “Fair and Balanced…”

Sunday, May 01, 2005

PBS- "Fair and Balanced" 

Since I’ve mentioned television recently, let’s talk public television. A quiet counterrevolution is under way at public broadcasting. Viewers should not be surprised to see less television challenging the powers-that-be on our public airways in the coming months and years. According to Paul Farhi at the Washington Post, big changes are under way, and they’re happening quietly. Most producers and staffers depending on public television for jobs are quietly hoping for the best for themselves and the institutions are hewing to the invisible lines that will prove they are “fair and balanced.”

Ken Tomlinson is chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Directors and also the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Tomlinson, who has behind him a stint running the Voice of America during the Reagan administration and was also editor-in-chief of Reader's Digest, oversees lots of public broadcasting money.

Newly under Tomlinson’s Board is Ken Feree. Ferree, a Republican who had been a top adviser to Michael Powell, the former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, just replaced Kathleen Cox as head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Cox, a longtime CPB administrator, was ousted by the recently more Republican CPB Board. The Ferree appointment followed the dismissals or departures in recent months of at least three other senior CPB officials, all of whom had Democratic affiliations.

Paul McCleary at CJR Daily reports today on the existence of research showing no public sentiment to curb PBS’s content, but don’t expect that to slow the starboard turn in what’s available on the dial, where CPB money accounts for 10% of PBS’s funding. A new scrutiny of stories ‘biases,’ one for the left, two for the right, is under way. Perhaps seminars at Fox could help?

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