Monday, October 08, 2007

Monkey Tales (10.8.07) Columbus Day Edition

I’d be curious to see the Associated Press stylebook entry for torture. It must distinguish between foreign and domestic. Witness this headline and lede:

China Land Activist Tortured in Prison

BEIJING (AP) -- A Chinese land rights activist imprisoned after circulating a letter rejecting the Olympics has been chained for days in the same position and forced to clean up the waste of other inmates...

In the U.S. version, “chained in the same position for days” is nothing more than a “stress position,” at worst a harsh interrogation method. In China, it’s torture. You can see the difference. We are good. Foreigners are evil. The Associated Press and other news organizations must respect that basic difference. Of course it would be better if they didn't report the details of another country's torture if it is similar to our not unduly harsh interrogation tactics. As long as the Chinese stop short of dumping people in vats of boiling oil, the press should just call it harsh interrogations and leave the details to the imagination. That's my recommendation. At least until we learn that the US boils people alive. Then we'd have to find a new terminology. We would never commit torture, obviously. Heated interrogations perhaps?


In other news concerning heated interrogations, tired of nuisances like unions, environmental concerns, and those pesky laws against dumping their employees in vats of boiling oil, General Motors is opening a factory in Uzbekistan.

But first they had to consider the human rights situation (via
Who is more brutal, Saddam Hussein or (Uzbekistan dictator) Islam Karimov ? Reasonable victims disagree. Saddam's goons electrocuted his political dissidents. Karimov, on the other hand, loots so much of his country's oil wealth that his state torturers don't have an electrical grid to draw upon. So his police torturers are forced to resort to medieval methods. They boil their "terrorist extremists"--businessmen who refuse to pay bribes--to death.

Well, a lot of people agree he’s better than Saddam, so I guess it's okay. Let’s hope none of those GM executives become “terrorist extremists.” I’m sure they won’t. They’ll be good corporate citizens and pay their bribes in full and on time.


Meanwhile, Paul Krugman, usually a reliable human, gives conservatives way more credit than they deserve:
Now, as they survey the wreckage of their cause, conservatives may ask themselves: “Well, how did we get here?” They may tell themselves: “This is not my beautiful Right.” They may ask themselves: “My God, what have we done?”

But their movement is the same as it ever was.

Sad, Mr. Krugman. Sad and naive. If conservatives were the types who questioned themselves to the tune of Talking Heads masterpieces, we probably wouldn’t be in such a mess in the first place. Come to terms with reality sir.


In other pundit news, Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post’s media lap, err I mean watch, dog digs deep to find a new class of victims of our war in Iraq--major network anchor millionaires!!! Brian Williams, Katie Couric, and Charles Gibson. Oh how they suffer the tortures of the damned as they read their teleprompters. It’s tragic. Tragic, I tells ya.


In other breaking news, the WaPo reports that those crafty Real Estate companies have come up with ingeniously innovative ways to sell houses:
New Tactics in New-Home Market

In order to sell in a slow housing market, builders are slashing prices and offering financing deals.

Slashing prices and offering deals!!! Quelle innovation!!! In tomorrow’s paper, the same reporter will discover that innovative fireman have begun using water to put out fires!!!


In local news, the Post reports that Maryland’s Prince William County has learned important lessons about governing from the Republicans in the federal government next door, but are still a bit too squeamish for the big time.
PRINCE WILLIAM County's elected leaders have balked, for the moment, at implementing what would be one of the nation's more pernicious, unenforceable and legally dubious local crackdowns on illegal immigrants. Facing elections next month and political heat generated in no small part by their own rhetoric, they may still decide to go ahead. If they do, they will fan the flames of xenophobia in Prince William, squander the time and energy of police officers and other agencies' employees, and, we now know, burden county taxpayers with millions of dollars in spending that will achieve very little.

Would the Bush administration or congressional Republicans ever balk at something that was pernicious, unenforceable and legally dubious? These Maryland weenies might as well be Democrats.

Actually, they might be Democrats, but I doubt it. The article doesn’t say which party is so monumentally incompetent. Granted, it could be both, but generally the Post is more likely to cover for Republicans.