Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links
- Mitt Romney’s Faux Facts
- Jon Stewart Sets Paul Ryan Straight
- Charlie Crist Explains Himself
- Germany’s Assault on Google News
- What the Hell? A Hitler Store in India
- Delta Bans Him for Wearing a Satirical T-Shirt
- A Father-Son Talk With Alan Thicke
Facts took a beating in Mitt Romney’s and Paul Ryan’s acceptance speeches. From The Times: “Representative Paul D. Ryan used his convention speech on Wednesday to fault President Obama for failing to act on a deficit-reduction plan that he himself had helped kill. He chided Democrats for seeking $716 billion in Medicare cuts that he too had sought. And he lamented the nation’s credit rating — which was downgraded after a debt-ceiling standoff that he and other House Republicans helped instigate. And Mitt Romney, in his acceptance speech on Thursday night, asserted that President Obama’s policies had “not helped create jobs” and that Mr. Obama had gone on an “apology tour” for America. He also warned that the president’s Medicare cuts would “hurt today’s seniors,” claims that have already been labeled false or misleading. The two speeches — peppered with statements that were incorrect or incomplete — seemed to signal the arrival of a new kind of presidential campaign, one in which concerns about fact-checking have been largely set aside. […] The growing number of misrepresentations appear to reflect a calculation in both parties that shame is overrated, and that no independent arbiters command the stature or the platform to hold the campaigns to account in the increasingly polarized and balkanized media firmament. Any unmasking of the lies or distortions, the thinking goes, rarely seeps into the public consciousness. But an interesting question unfolding is whether there is a tipping point at which a candidate becomes so associated with falsehoods that it becomes part of his public persona — which hampered Vice President Al Gore during his run for president in 2000, when his misstatements on the campaign trail were used to stoke the perception that he could not be trusted in general.
The Daily Beast called Mitt’s performance a “Meh”: “How did the former governor do tonight? Unfortunately for him, he followed Marco Rubio of Florida, who delivered a curiously (or perhaps not so curiously) self-reverential speech—and with the passion and conviction for which Romney has long searched. By far the best tributes to Romney came an hour or so earlier, in moving testimonials from his fellow Mormons about his kindness and compassion. As for the nominee himself, his presentation was, as expected, mechanically flawless—even his lame game-show style entrance was accomplished with robotic, pizzazz-less efficiency. At least he didn’t argue with a talking chair, like Clint Eastwood did. Undoubtedly in the coming days we’ll be hearing reviews like “ten strike,” “homerun” “out of the park” from the usual suspects, and maybe some unusual ones, too. It wasn’t that. But it wasn’t bad. Romney, in his obligatory red, white, and blue uniform, did have some well-crafted zingers, but none were particularly poetic. Nor will many linger in history—unless you’ve never heard a politician find 60 different ways to call America “the greatest nation on the face of the earth.””
- President Obama: Four More Years?
- Godly American Businessman: How the RNC Marketed Mitt Romney
- Clint Eastwood’s Unbelievable Republican National Convention Speech
- How the media covered two Romney falsehoods
- Remembering Lyndon B. Johnson Amidst Today’s GOP
Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist explained why he’s backing Obama in a piece for the Tampa Bay Times, starting with an assessment of Obama in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis: “The president’s response was swift, smart and farsighted. He kept his compass pointed due north and relentlessly focused on saving jobs, creating more and helping the many who felt trapped beneath the house of cards that had collapsed upon them. He knew we had to get people back to work as quickly as possible — but he also knew that the value of a recovery lies in its durability. Short-term healing had to be paired with an economy that would stay healthy over the long run. And he knew that happens best by investing in the right places. […] And the president invested in our retirement security by strengthening Medicare. The $716 billion in savings his opponents decry today extended the life of the program by nearly a decade and are making sure taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted in excessive payments to insurance companies or fraud and abuse. His opponents would end the Medicare guarantee by creating a voucher that would raise seniors’ costs by thousands of dollars and bankrupt the program.” And on Republicans: “But an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they’ve proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims. The truth is that the party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve. Pundits looking to reduce something as big as a statewide election to a single photograph have blamed the result of my 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate on my greeting of President Obama. I didn’t stand with our president because of what it could mean politically; I did it because uniting to recover from the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes was more important than party affiliation. I stood with our nation’s leader because it was right for my state.” The full column.
From Der Spiegel: “The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to require Google and other aggregators to pay for reproducing content from news websites. Her cabinet on Wednesday agreed on a draft law that would impose a fee even for tiny snippets of text. Web activists are outraged. […] Essentially, the law is an attempt to ensure that German news websites receive a share of the profits Google makes by selling ads on its news pages. Many publishing houses in Germany, led by media giant Axel Springer, have complained that aggregator sites essentially make their money by leveraging the work of others. Merkel’s coalition government, which pairs her conservatives with the business-friendly Free Democrats, has been preparing a draft version of the law since 2009. […] The draft law, however, has been widely criticized, most vociferously by Google itself. Company spokesman Kay Overbeck on Wednesday said that it was “a dark day for the Internet in Germany” and added that “this interference with the Internet is unparalleled worldwide.” Germany’s opposition joined the company in blasting the government proposal. Politicians from the center-left Social Democrats and the Greens were critical of the draft, saying that it limits information freedom on the Internet and that it wasn’t entirely clear why a new law is needed. The Pirate Party, which campaigns for Internet freedoms but is not represented in the federal parliament, has also blasted the draft law, saying that it is an unacceptable assault on web freedom. “There are no technical, legal or economic reasons for this law, which puts the brakes on innovation,” said Bruno Kramm, an expert on copyright law with the Pirates. The law is designed so that simple link aggregation would remain legal, as would quoting from published articles. Furthermore, private bloggers, foundations and even companies will not be forced to pay — only those who “systematically collect” snippets from websites.” The full story.
From the Anti-Defamation League: “The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today [August 30] called on the owner of an Indian clothing store in the city of Ahmedabad to heed the concerns of the local Jewish community and the voices of others from around the world by immediately changing the store’s name from “Hitler” and removing a large storefront sign that features a swastika and the Nazi dictator’s name in boldface English. Store owner Rajesh Shah is the most recent Indian to use the notorious dictator’s name to market a product or concept. Last November, ADL spoke out about after the premiere of an Indian soap opera called “Hitler Didi” named for the domineering female lead character and has raised concerns in the past about other Indian businesses using Hitler’s name as a promotional tool. “It is a perverse abuse of the history of the Holocaust to name a business after one of the world’s most notorious mass murders and anti-Semites,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. “Hitler’s name is seeping into India’s popular culture without any appropriate context. Clearly there’s a need for more education in India about the history of World War II and the rampant anti-Semitism that led to the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust.” In a letter to Mr. Shah, ADL called his decision to name his store after Hitler “deeply offensive” and “an affront to the memory of the millions of Hitler’s victims.” The League noted that the image of his storefront, with the word “Hitler” prominently displayed in English and a swastika dotting the letter “i,” has been widely circulated around the world on the Internet. In August 2006, ADL spoke out against a Hitler-themed restaurant in Mumbai named “Hitler’s Cross,” helping to convince the owner to change the restaurant’s name and theme.”
Arijit Guha is a doctoral student at Arizona State University. He was flying from Buffalo to Arizona on a Delta flight, wearing a shirt that poked fun at the TSA, the Transportation Safety Administration, from whose playbook the Palm Coast Code Enforcement Department takes its pages. Here’s what happened, as he described it on his blog: “My wife and I had arrived at the airport to fly home to Phoenix after attending my wife’s grandfather’s funeral, via a layover in Atlanta on Delta #1176. We had cleared the security checkpoint without incident, but while waiting at the gate, a Delta supervisor informed me my shirt ([to the left], designed by Cory Doctorow) had made numerous passengers and employees “very uncomfortable.” I was then questioned by TSA about the significance and meaning of the shirt. I politely explained that it was “mocking the security theater charade and over-reactions to terrorism by the general public — both of which we’re seeing right now, ironically.” The agents inquired as to the meaning of the term “ZOMG” and who it was that I thought was “gonna kill us all.” As best I could tell, they seemed to find my explanation that I didn’t think anyone would be killing us all and that I was poking fun at overwrought, irrational fears exhibited by certain members of the flying public to be satisfactory. And moreover, they clearly deemed my shirt to be no legitimate threat. The Delta supervisor then told me I would be able to board the plane, but only after acquiescing to an additional security check of my and my wife’s belongings and changing my shirt. […] However, the Delta supervisor informed us the pilot had decided, regardless of the outcome of the multiple TSA screenings and my willingness to change shirts, that due to the discomfort my shirt has caused, my wife and I would not be allowed to board the aircraft. Passengers on the plane supposedly felt uncomfortable with my very presence on the flight. And the Delta manager went out of his way to point out that he wholeheartedly agreed with the pilot’s decision. I was stunned. “You’re f—— kidding me,” I said in response. I pushed for an explanation of why the pilot was willing to overrule/ignore the judgment of the trained security officers. “Why can’t I board? What’s the concern?,” I asked. His response left me even more stunned: “Just use your imagination.” Wow. Let’s just consider that for a moment.
In short, security screenings and any other evidence-based assessment method have been deemed irrelevant. Whatever I do, I am suspicious. Why? Not because the shirt I’m wearing presents some sort of legitimate threat. Not because I have weapons or potential bomb-making tools in my luggage. And not because I’ve shown any other indication of any sort that I’m a potential terrorist. Rather, the pilot and some Delta rep can project upon me their worst fears of what I am possibly capable of. If that’s the case, why even bother with the bloated security apparatus — since Delta pilots have discretion to kick off passengers who’ve passed multiple checks, after all? […] If racist dingdongs are made uncomfortable by my presence on flight, shouldn’t Delta ask them to change flights rather than kick me off? If any passengers were still afraid of me sans my “upsetting t-shirt,” Delta should see no reason to accommodate them. These are not voices that warrant being appeased. If my presence makes them uncomfortable, they can choose to be on a different flight. But instead Delta explicitly accepted the argument based in pure irrationality, and then went one step further by justifying their own actions by appealing to the powers of the imagination. Absolutely disgusting, appalling behavior.” See the full post. Worth every word.
Incidentally, he suffers from acute colon cancer, and was featured on ABC’s Good Morning America in early August, weeks before the Delta flight incident.