Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Women on The Tonight Show



Sometimes, the best bits of cultural relevancyend up appearing in places where you would never expect to find them:


There's an interesting point to which she refused to appear on the Johnny Carson show because of how women were portrayed on his show. Ride explained to NASA that she wasn't interested, then took off for California to lie low. She didn't explain herself; she just acted.


Women were treated horribly on the Tonight Show; if you were beautiful or old enough to be Johnny Carson's grandmother, you could expect to get on. And even when you did get on, there would be no chance for anything reasonable or enlightened to happen.

The fact that Sally Ride turned down Carson is significant because she was part of a very vocal minority that complained about how women were depicted and treated on the show.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Save Your Own Treasures





















None of this belongs to the West. And yet, you'd think it did:


ISIS' seizure of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra early Thursday intensified fears that the 2,000-year-old site's archaeological treasures would become the latest to face destruction at the hands of militants.


The extremists' wanton carnage has also reignited debate about whether precious relics are best housed in their country of origin or stored — and in some cases protected — in overseas museums.


Syria's antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim warned Wednesday that Palmyra looked likely to suffer the same fate as Nimrud in northern Iraq, the 3,000-year-old city which was bulldozed by insurgents in March as part of a campaign to eliminate relics that they consider heretical.


The destruction of history is tragic in and of itself, but the loss of life even more so. We lose sight of that fact when we bemoan the loss of a pile of ancient stones and ignore the slaughter of thousands. The misery of the Syrian people is more important than any historical site. And yet, as far as Iraq and Syria are concerned, these are matters of self pride and self-survival. If they truly want to stop the looting and the destruction, they're going to have to do it for themselves. We cannot send 25,000 troops and do it for them and we should get out of the nation building business.

If the Syrian and the Iraqi people, who number in the millions, can't figure out a way to solve their internal problems and protect their own cultural heritage, then there's nothing that can be done for them. This is the moment where they need to build their own nations on a foundation of not tolerating this way of life. They have to reject the ideology of ISIS and the creation of a civilization that would, effectively, take tens of millions of people back into the Middle Ages.

The U.S. interference in Iraq unleashed these forces, but their essential root was in the original Ba'ath party infrastructure left over from the Iraq War. These are the decision makers, using money from their backers, to drive the destruction of people, property and infrastructure. This is a clash of haves and have-nots--at no point have the people been allowed to profit from or have any pride in the treasures now being ground under the bulldozers. What connection would they have with sites that ended up in their laps because the borders of their countries were drawn by British diplomats?

The mistaken belief that deposing Saddam Hussein would lead to stabilization turned out to be wrong. But re-invading Iraq and then invading Syria would just compound the problem. These are Iraqi and Syrian problems, and they are driven by proxy interests in Iran and Saudi Ara bia.

Someone has made up their minds to tear the region apart and blame it on Israel and America. There is nothing in the Middle East worth the life of a single American service member, and there never was. The people have to save their treasures and I believe they can if they want it badly enough.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ignoring the Debacle of the Iran Contra Affair





















I took notice of a small bit of intellectual dishonesty wedged into a review of a new hagiography of Ronald Reagan.


Similarly, Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker was a “gift” from his predecessor, Jimmy Carter. Volcker curbed inflation, leading to economic growth at “just the right time for Reagan.” Reagan’s overall economic policy and its ongoing impact merit more examination, as do the intricacies of the disastrous Iran-Contra affair.


Fewer than ten words for the single defining scandal of the Reagan era? Really? And how many words did Brands waste on Ollie North, he of the shredder and the office hottie? The fact that Oliver North still appears on television in anything but a prison jumpsuit is proof no one remembers what actually happened and that there has never been a real accountability moment for the Morning in America crowd.


This is quite relevant. In our modern political discourse, Reagan is accorded virtual sainthood and his conservative bonafides will be cited relentlessly in the 2016 election cycle.

What this amounts to is a virtual whitewashing of history. Reagan traded arms for hostages, and the arms went to the regime in Iran. He ignored the will of Congress. He was never held accountable for it, and President Bush pardoned nearly everyone who should have gone to jail.

Change Obama with Reagan, and he would have already been impeached. I laugh when they call Obama a tyrant because, brother, the real tyranny has been right under your nose for decades and no one has done a proper accounting for what went on.

This is an icon worth celebrating? Did any of these people actually live through the 1980s?