Sorkin Returns with “Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip”

Aaron Sorkin is back on television with an amazing cast. It was strange to see Stephen Weber play the straight laced Chairman of the network, as I’ll always think of him as Brian Hackett on Wings. It’s always great to see Lou Grant, I mean Ed Asner again, as well as Timothy Busfield (Elliot Westin of Thirtysomething and Danny Concannon of The West Wing). The show opens with Jud Hirsch doing a fantastic Howard Beale (Network) type rant.

Bradley Whitford (who previously played Josh Lyman on The West Wing) and Matthew Perry (like there’s anybody who doesn’t know he was Chandler Bing) will likely dominate the show, but Amanda Peet was the highlight tonight. Seeing Amanda Peet in the pilot of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip made me think of one of my favorite movies, Something’s Gotta Give. I could come up with an excuse tying these pictures into tonight’s show, but who really needs an excuse to either recall a favorite movie or look at pictures of Amanda Peet?

Quote Mining by the Right

Nick Matzke at The Panda’s Thumb may have stumbled on a reason why the Republicans and religious right get along so well together. I’ve often noted how common it is for Republicans to avoid responding to their opponents real beliefs by twisting their words and then acting as if they accomplished something when they attacked the straw men of their own creation. We saw this repeatedly during the 2004 election, such as when Republicans extracted global test from one of John Kerry’s statements to attribute beliefs to him which he never actually expressed. If they can find the words in a statement they feel they can distort them to mean whatever they like, while still claiming to be using their opponent’s “actual words.”

Nick complains about similar tactics from the Discovery Institute, the major advocates of creationism/intelligent design:

Anyone who has been a “creationism watcher” for any length of time is familiar with the venerable creationist tactic of “quote mining.” Since creationists, essentially universally, can’t (or don’t want to) deal with actual scientific data pertaining to evolution, they attempt maintain a facade of respectibility by quoting statements from biological authorities.”

The creationists (a.k.a. cretins) take actual quotes from scientific literature but twist them to mean something totally different than they actually mean. In this case their is no doubt that the person who was “quote mined” had his statements distorted. Nick should know what the author intended as, in the case he describes, he is the actual author. A paper he coauthored in  Nature Reviews Microbiology on flagellum evolution was “quote mined” by the Discovery Institute to promote creationism. A lengthy discussion of the misquotation is in his post at The Panda’s Thumb.

Yes, when we see their tactics, the cretins at the Discovery Institute, and other opponents of science, fit in very well with the Republicans who use similar tactics in political campaigns.

NY Times Columnists on Bush and Torture

Paul Krugman reviews the Bush Administration’s use of torture and violations of the Geneva Convention, finding that torture does not provide useful information. He questions why the Bush Administration is so determined to torture people:

To show that it can.

The central drive of the Bush administration — more fundamental than any particular policy — has been the effort to eliminate all limits on the president’s power. Torture, I believe, appeals to the president and the vice president precisely because it’s a violation of both law and tradition. By making an illegal and immoral practice a key element of U.S. policy, they’re asserting their right to do whatever they claim is necessary.

And many of our politicians are willing to go along. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives is poised to vote in favor of the administration’s plan to, in effect, declare torture legal. Most Republican senators are equally willing to go along, although a few, to their credit, have stood with the Democrats in opposing the administration.

Mr. Bush would have us believe that the difference between him and those opposing him on this issue is that he’s willing to do what’s necessary to protect America, and they aren’t. But the record says otherwise.

The fact is that for all his talk of being a “war president,” Mr. Bush has been conspicuously unwilling to ask Americans to make sacrifices on behalf of the cause — even when, in the days after 9/11, the nation longed to be called to a higher purpose. His admirers looked at him and thought they saw Winston Churchill. But instead of offering us blood, toil, tears and sweat, he told us to go shopping and promised tax cuts.

Only now, five years after 9/11, has Mr. Bush finally found some things he wants us to sacrifice. And those things turn out to be our principles and our self-respect.