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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
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29 May 2007

TV Killed Our Democracy

We've got to try to realise the effect that television has had on our ability to retain information and to have our attention be held on a particular topic. It's shortened our memories by quite a lot. And the way that we interact with politics has been, really, it's just been demolished completely. -- David Bazan

I have a love-hate relationship with television. On the one hand, programming has come a long way, even in my lifetime. A lot of the stuff that's on these days is, really, just brilliant. On the other hand, well, spend two minutes watching one of the 24-hour cable news networks.

The above clip from Family Guy is the sharpest critique of what television has done to politics that I've seen in quite a while, perhaps even on par with some stuff Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert have done. The Solomon Grundy joke is a bit flat and out of place, but the rest of this is just top notch. This is what happens when you reduce leadership to soundbites and I'd-have-a-beer-with-himism. Ironic that I saw it on TV.

It also makes me wonder if this presidency, which I imagine to be the most PR-focused in history, could even exist without television.

28 May 2007


The truth is that the nightmare of the Bush years won’t really be over until politicians are convinced that voters will punish, not reward, Bush-style fear-mongering. And that hasn’t happened yet.

Here’s the way it ought to be: When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a “movement” that “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he should be treated as a lunatic.

When Mitt Romney says that a coalition of “Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda” wants to “bring down the West,” he should be ridiculed for his ignorance.

And when John McCain says that Osama, who isn’t in Iraq, will “follow us home” if we leave, he should be laughed at.

But they aren’t, at least not yet. And until belligerent, uninformed posturing starts being treated with the contempt it deserves, men who know nothing of the cost of war will keep sending other people’s children to graves at Arlington.
-- Paul Krugman

03 May 2007

Things I Learned Last Month While Not Blogging

1) When a Palestinian Muslim straps a bomb to his waist and blows up 32 Israelis, he’s a terrorist. When a Korean living in the United States shoots 32 people for “being rich,” he’s a troubled college student.

2) A white man leaves a nail bomb at an abortion clinic in Texas? Just another example of something that white folks do that isn’t terrorism. And, boy, the liberal media and the Republican Party won’t shut up about it, either.

3) Laura Bush says that Iraq, a country approximately the size of California, with a population approximately that of Texas, is pretty much stable now, except for that pesky one bombing a day. School shooting in Virginia kills a measly 32 people? United States whines for weeks. Pussies.

4) Chinese? Korean? Japanese? They all look alike.

5) A South Korean kills dozens of people on American soil? Time to invade China. Better to fight the Asians over there, so we won’t have to fight them here.

6) The world has changed dramatically since 11 September. Thus, US citizens should be willing to give up certain basic rights and freedoms to ensure everyone’s safety. Except, of course, for tighter restriction on firearm purchases.

7) The Virginia Tech shooting could have been prevented if people were allowed to carry concealed handguns. Life is, after all, just like an episode of 24.

8) No one could have predicted that a bullied kid who wrote disturbing stories in English classes, who was encouraged to seek counselling, who was investigated for stalking and harassing female students, and who was declared mentally ill and ordered to seek outpatient treatment, could have been a threat to himself or others. Just like no one could have predicted 11 September, despite detailed warnings to the Bush administration from governments and intelligence agencies in Indonesia, France, Britain, Italy, India, Argentina, Russia, Morocco, Israel, Germany, Jordan, Egypt, and even Afghanistan. Hindsight truly is 20-20.