Friday Mashup (2/19/10)

  • I haven’t paid much attention to Christine Flowers of the Philadelphia Daily News lately, but she came up with a whopper today in her column about “anti-social networking,” in which gangs reportedly use Facebook, etc. to congregate for juvenile delinquency…

    It’s beyond frightening – and frustrating – to think that this is what is being spawned in our urban incubators these days, clueless, rudderless and amoral boys and girls who don’t give a damn about private property and the safety of others. Their anti-social, criminal behavior shouldn’t be cleaned up with euphemisms.

    In recent times, bleeding hearts who have more sympathy for the lawless than for their victims have urged understanding. Argued against stiff sentences. Opposed placing these baby felons into adult proceedings and have even, somehow, convinced the Supreme Court that minors shouldn’t be eligible for capital punishment, no matter how heinous their crimes.

    Notice that Flowers didn’t say anything about “rural incubators” (so clever with the wingnut code, Christine).

    And Flowers is right that The Supremes ruled against juvenile capital punishment in 2005, as noted here. However, we should keep in mind the following…

    (Justice Anthony) Kennedy’s (majority) opinion rested in large part on the fact that 30 states, including the 12 states that have no capital punishment, forbid the death penalty for offenders younger than 18. That number represented an increase of five since the court upheld the juvenile death penalty in 1989.

    The court weighs death penalty laws according to what a 1958 ruling called the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society,” and looks to state legislation and jury verdicts to decide whether a “national consensus” has developed against a previously accepted practice.

    In 2002, the court voted 6 to 3 to strike down the death penalty for the moderately mentally retarded, which it had upheld 5 to 4 in 1989. In the 2002 case, Atkins v. Virginia, the court noted that the number of death penalty states banning that practice had grown from two in 1989 to 13 in 2002, while none had gone the other way.

    The recent shift of states against the juvenile death penalty, though less dramatic than the evidence the court found sufficient in the mental-retardation case, was enough to carry the day, Kennedy concluded.

    For the Supreme Court itself, perhaps the most significant effect of yesterday’s decision is to reaffirm the role of international law in constitutional interpretation.

    The European Union, human right lawyers from the United Kingdom and a group of Nobel Peace laureates had urged the court in friend-of-the-court briefs to strike down the juvenile death penalty.

    Even a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger such as yours truly opposes destruction to people and/or property, no matter who the alleged perpetrators are. But is Flowers seriously contemplating the death penalty here for a bunch of dumb kids who vandalize a department store?

  • Also, Dick Polman of the Inquirer weighed in on the brewing travesty concerning the production on the Kennedys currently being worked on for The History Channel here (I got into this here)…

    (Filmmaker Robert) Greenwald is unhappy that the top guy on the Kennedy film project is Joel Surnow, a conservative who created the Fox show “24.” Greenwald insists, however, that he’s not trying to censor anybody. But judge for yourself whether Greenwald ally Ted Sorenson, a former Kennedy aide and one of the earliest Kennedy hagiographers, is threatening censorship when he warns that “there will be hell to pay if anyone is ever foolish enough to put this banal, repetitive, old hat lists of libels and slanders on the air.”

    This bid to, at minimum, pre-spin an unproduced docudrama is foolish for many reasons. Attacking the partial early drafts of any film script is akin to attacking a singer-songwriter on the basis of how his new material sounds as it’s taking shape in early studio sessions. In that sense, Greenwald’s campaign is an attack on the artistic process itself. Things change. There are endless revisions, additions, and deletions. Perhaps the Kennedy flamekeepers should take chill pills and let this process play out; as Stephen Kronish, the project’s writer – and a self-described liberal Democrat – reportedly said the other day, “Next year, when it’s done and it’s on the air, if people want to criticize it, so be it.”

    Soo…Polman thinks that Sorenson, Greenwald etc. are supposed to know this stuff is going on…and say and do nothing?

    Polman points out that Greenwald and others have objected to scenes where “JFK” is making out with some floosie in a swimming pool while a crisis develops, as well as a remark about Kennedy needing sex to prevent migraines, and Polman responds that both of those episodes have been documented.

    However, there is also a moment in this production when Joe Kennedy Sr. breaks a crucifix over his knee, when there is no record anywhere of that ever having occurred. Further, there is no mention whatsoever of the Cuban Missile Crisis. What the hell kind of a Kennedy “documentary” is this, then (Polman would have learned this from Greenwald’s approximately-twelve-minute film, which you can view from the link to my prior post, in which Greenwald features Sorenson, along with historians Thurston Clarke, David Nasaw, Nigel Hamilton – who is hardly a Kennedy fan – and Rick Perlstein, as noted here).

    The point of all of these individuals is that, if Surnow wants to make some trash biopic on the Kennedys, that’s his right, Polman’s editorializing to the contrary. However, such a mess has no place on The History Channel (and it’s more than a little disingenuous for Polman to mention “The Reagans,” since that didn’t show on The History Channel either; it ended up on the Showtime cable network, which has a significantly smaller audience than CBS, where it was originally slated to run before the right-wing outcry).

  • Finally, as we wind down towards the weekend, it’s time for some comedy from Matthew Continetti of The Weakly Standard (here, concerning a certain presidential election)…

    In 2000, George W. Bush’s solid lead collapsed the weekend before the election when media broke the news of his 1976 DUI. Florida was the result.

    Too funny (the Dubya DUI story broke too late to matter, just before November 4th) – as noted here…

    Bush took an early lead in the polls but his opponent, Vice-President Al Gore, bounced back after the Democratic convention, when he started sounding a populist theme. The media had a field day with Bush’s tendencies to malapropisms and Gore hammered at his foreign policy weaknesses and lack of experience. There was also some criticism of an alleged subliminal messages in a Bush campaign ad in which the word “Democrats” morphed into “rats” for a split-second. Bush immediately pulled the ads, and continued to display his people skills. “What Bush does with people is establish a direct, personal connection,” wrote reporter Nicholas Lemann in the New Yorker. Lemann claims that Bush has “a talent for establishing a jovial connection with an unusually large number of people.” The polls drew close and a series of three debates in October was expected to be decisive. Gore, portrayed as a man with more command of policies and details, was expected to win. However, Bush more than held his own, and his folksiness made Gore look stiff by comparison. In a second debate Gore was more agreeable, and the two candidates declared much common ground. However, Gore’s dramatic mood shift made him appear insincere to some voters. Bush remained adamantly “on message,” repeatedly sounding his issues of education reform, social security privatization, and tax cuts, while downplaying controversial issues such as abortion.

    And I would argue that former Commander Clueless was aided in no small part by some big-time media love in 1999-2000; how many “Bush as a regular guy” stories did we hear, as opposed to variations on this theme when it came to Gore?

    Continetti concludes, by the way, by saying that “in politics, ignorance rules.”

    Spoken like a true Republican.

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