Daily Archives: December 30, 2007

Bill Kristol and the passing of the Peter Principle

Famously and consistently wrong pundit Bill Kristol, recently booted by TIME magazine, somehow gets a gig at the NY Times.

John Cole:

if the Peter Principle were true, George Bush and Bill Kristol would be the street-cleaner and dogcatcher in Crawford, Texas.



Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Bush blunders worldwide, celebrities in the news, Countdown to attack on Iran, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, Donald Rumsfeld:criminal or just incompetent?, economics, Fred Kagan:an idiot running a war, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran, Iraq, media, Middle East, Politics, Republican politicians: are any of them normal

US surveillance of citizens similar to Russia, China

via Glenn Greenwald:

…the annual survey of worldwide privacy rights conducted by Privacy International and EPIC has been released for 2007, and the U.S. has been downgraded from “Extensive Surveillance Society” to “Endemic Surveillance Society,” the worst possible category there is for privacy protections, the category also occupied by countries such as China, Russia, Singapore and Malaysia. The survey uses a variety of objective factors to determine the extent of privacy protections citizens enjoy from their government, and the U.S. now finishes at the bottom for obvious reasons.
Evidence that we are becoming a lawless surveillance state is abundant. But let’s forget all of that and figure out how we can best micro-manage the internal affairs of Pakistan and Iraq and Russia and Iran so that we can preserve Freedom and Democracy for the world.

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Filed under Alberto Gonzales:boob or simpleton-you decide, Bush blunders worldwide, Congress, Dianne Feinstein betrays the voters trust, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, FEMA/Homeland Security, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Harry Reid:part of the problem, Mitt Romney: double guantanamo, over the line, perpetual war: fascism in disguise, Politics, Racism, Republican politicians: are any of them normal, Supreme Court, Torture: you're next, Wordpress Political Blogs

US torturers used “24” as a guide


on my way into the office, I stopped by my mail slot, where a book lay in wait. It was called “Secrets of 24: The Unauthorized Guide to the Political & Moral Issues Behind TV’s Most Riveting Drama.”

One of my Times columns on “24” was included in it. So I spent the rest of the morning re-reading the piece five or ten times, and happening upon the table of contents, where I’d accidentally find my name.

I also read interviews with Joel Surnow, “24”’s co-creator, with Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays Chloe O’Brian, with Shohreh Aghdashloo, who played the anguished wife, Dina, in the terrorist sleeper cell family featured in Season Four. I read some “Reflections on 24 and the Real World” by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, assertions that “The Threats Portrayed on 24 Are Quite Realistic” by former CIA Director James Woolsey, an interview with former FBI Director William S. Sessions (“I Sleep Well at Night”) and a surreal account of how the dean of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point plus three experienced military interrogators traveled to Hollywood to meet with the “24” creative team to try to beg them to tone down the show’s use of torture for the good of the American viewing public – and for our troops.

I learned how some of the young American military interrogators in Iraq, in places like Mosul, Fallujah and, of course, Abu Ghraib, used “24”’s screenplays as a guidebook when trying to figure out the right way to extract information from detainees. Lacking leadership from the likes of Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush, they turned instead to Jack Bauer for insight and inspiration.

“All the people who were actually conducting interrogations were privates or specialists who had no idea what they were doing,” Tony Lagouranis, a former U.S. Army interrogator at Abu Ghraib, said in an interview. “[The Bush Administration] said the Geneva Conventions don’t apply, so we had no idea what the rules were. They took away our rules and our training, so we really had nothing to fall back on, and the only role models we had were from TV and movies.”

There is much that can be said, pro and con, about “24.” But contemplating the inner lives of troops who, devoid of guidance, education, and consistent training, turned to a sadistic action adventure series for direction, leaves me speechless.

What kind of country produces this kind of person and ships him – or her – overseas? What kind of military leadership would leave such people unattended to run sensitive operations in the nightmare hours when “24” goes dark?

I’ve always considered “24” to be pure fluff and fun. But it is time, I think, to widen out the gaze to the periphery, and let it dwell there for an uncomfortably long time.

This is one sick era.

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Movie review: I Am Legend. No, you’re not.

Will Smith stars in this unfortunate film, which makes me think of a collage of old movie plots, none of which I liked very much…horrible virus, war of the worlds, road warriors, zombies, Twilight Zone, Rin Tin Tin. It’s a rather shocking horror flick, but also a psychological thriller, a loud sci fi chiller, close encounters, a computer graphics wonderland, and a plot that seems half baked. The ending is limp.

Don’t waste your time unless you really, really like expensive popcorn. 1 out of 4.

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