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Apr 11, 2010

GOP Update, such as it is.

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Wow, try to find any picture coming out of the Southern Republican Leadership Conference that wouldn't double as a narcoleptic. This photo the LAT turned up suggests:

1.) Things pretty flat from the podium.

2.) GOP in a bad way to find group excitement.

3.) Noise mostly coming from the fringe.

I'd say the this stage and the lighting strategy does seem reminiscent of more spicy GOP forays, though.

(photo: Gerald Herbert, Associated Press / April 10, 2010. caption: Republicans applaud Rep. Ron Paul, shown on the monitor, and other luminaries at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, a showcase for potential nominees for president in the 2012 election. Despite high spirits, party divisions were apparent.)

That Feudal Feeling

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Is man evolving or do we remain more primitive than we'd care to admit?

What is brilliant about this robocop-protester photo from Kyrgyzstan fronting Thurday's NYT is how thoroughly medieval it feels. Beware, the stone.

(photo: Ivan Sekretarev/A.P. caption:  Bloodied Kyrgyz police officers huddled together for protection, as they were attacked by protestors in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Wednesday. Police opened fire on thousands of angry protesters who tried to seize the main government building amid rioting in the capital as protests spread across the Central Asian nation. )

Apr 09, 2010

Stupidité d’état at Guantanamo Bay

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by BagNewsNotes Contributor, Robert Hariman

Among the sophisticated, raison d’état (”reason of state”) is the first principle of foreign policy. Decisions are to be made on behalf of the national interest without regard to confounding values. So it is that democracies can support dictators, to take one example that might apply to U.S. foreign policy now and again. Although the idea has been the subject of extensive debate, it has at the same time become ever more deeply embedded in practices of state administration. It should not be surprising, then, that those practices acquire the look of rational, efficient mechanisms of control.

This photograph of a common room at Guantanamo Bay prison is a study in rational organization, everything in its place. The room is used for activities such as watching television, but its real purpose is obvious: maintaining comprehensive control of the inmates while they are out of their cells. And, yes, those are leg irons on the floor; the prisoners are locked in while sitting at the table. The photo may be intended to feature the functionality of the room: containment appears almost transparent–no dungeons here–while the asceticism and cleanliness double as substitutes for morality.

Modern regimes of control rely heavily on assumptions about reason and necessity in the use of power. They can’t be less powerful or more moral, we are told, because the rational consequence will be that a more powerful and less moral opponent will triumph. They can, however, apply instrumental rationality and modern technologies to maintain security, and that competence becomes sufficient justification for administrative sovereignty. If they can’t be moral, democratic, or otherwise defined by anything other than the use of power to maintain security, at least they can be systematically organized to achieve their one objective.

Fair enough, but for one problem.

Continue reading "Stupidité d’état at Guantanamo Bay" »

Your Turn: The Stevens Era

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That was then, this is now. What are you seeing (besides the tilt)?

(photo 1: Barry Thumma-AP. Oct. 1, 1982. caption: President Ronald Reagan, center right, poses with the nine members of the Supreme Court at the White House. Back row from left: Stevens, Lewis F. Powell Jr., William H. Rehnquist and Sandra Day O'Connor. Front row, from left: Thurgood Marshall, William J. Brennan Jr., Warren E. Burger, Reagan, Byron R. White and Harry A. Blackmun. photo 2: Jim Young/Reuters. Sept. 29, 2009. caption: The U.S. Supreme Court. Front row, from left: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Justice John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas. Second row, from left: Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor.)

The New BagNewsNotes is Coming (#2)

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More info to follow...

Namir Noor-Eldeen

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(Click for larger size)

This photo accompanies a remembrance by NYT photographer Michael Kamber and a Lens blog slide show of Namir Noor-Eldeen's work. Noor-Eldeen, showcased in the Wikileaks video released this week, was the young Iraqi Reuters photographer misidentified as an insurgent and killed by the US military in Baghdad in '07.

Beyond some parallels between this photo Noor-Eideen took of medics lifting a body after a rocket attack in Baghdad in October '04 and his own demise after assistance arrived to transport him from the scene, it's mostly troubling to consider him meeting his end in a similarly shattered setting he was as familiar with as anyone.

Apr 08, 2010

Greenspan's Vision


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Both newswire shots, the one of Greenspan with his eyes closed and his glasses off, and the one of him sitting in the dark at the testimony table before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission during a surprise power failure speak to the same thing -- that during the time the banks accumulated unfettered power leading to a near-melt down of the U.S. economy, Greenspan never saw it coming.

(image 1: J Scott Applewhite/A.P. image 2: Alex Wong/Getty Images. caption: Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan waits in the dark as a power outage takes place during a hearing before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission April 7, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The commission began a three-day hearing on 'Subprime Lending and Securitization and Government-Sponsored Enterprises' to examine the meltdown of subprime mortgages during the financial crisis in 2008.)

The Tiger Morality Play (Cha-Ching)

Have you seen the new Masters commercial? Nike assumes the fallen Tiger has undergone a moral re-education. The ad was released for the start of the Masters tournament and Woods's rapid return to the Woods-starved golf scene and public eye.

What I find fascinating is how the company, far from running away from the fallen constructed-American hero (and historic cash machine) has so thoroughly appropriated his nascent but newbie (and highly promoted) therapy experience; his "supposed remorse"; his "supposed moral reeducation"; and, especially, the voice and moral authority of Tiger's father.

Standing on a golf course ( "of all places," right?), Tiger looks America and his dead father straight in the eye, blinking in slow motion assent from admonishing statements or questions from Dad (one blink after "what your thinking was" and "what your feelings are"; two blinks and slight nod after "did you learn anything?") ... as if he somehow is baring and has bared his soul to the nation. ...Now where's my check?

Classic.

Apr 07, 2010

Not Just For Liberals Anymore

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So, I'm having trouble understanding this sign.

Without laying down a lot of snark, though, I'm appreciating more and more how the Tea Party is mostly an umbrella for the angry, the confused, the frustrated. (What emphasizes that even more is how this woman in red is centered between someone who apparently thinks the health care legislation might possibly be repealed and one more guy sensing revolution by putting on a powdered wig.)

(photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images. caption: Tea Party supporters listen to speaker at a rally for the Tea Party Express national tour during a stop at Davis Park on April 6, 2010 in Rockford, Illinois. The Tea Party Express members are on a cross-country tour to rally support for the Tea Party agenda including their conservative causes and candidates.)

You're Toast, Sir

A shot of Obama and Karzai ... before the President of Kabul burned down the breakfast club.

What with Karzai burning us in the media all week, I imagine the Administration now regrets posting this on the WH Flickr stream just before he got fired up. Such a shame, too. The bogus symbolism is perfect -- offering two leaders "seeing eye-to-eye" and "breaking bread" together.

With Karzai's rants still ringing, I look at this now and imagine the guy in the white gloves taking him away -- at least, immediately after he takes his basket back.

(photo: Pete Souza/White House. caption: President Barack Obama chats with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during the start of a dinner at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 28, 2010.)

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