James Foley

Why America Is Culpable for the Murder of James Foley

An article in The New York Times yesterday revealed that ISIS demanded a ransom for James Foley’s release, according to his family. The U.S., along with Britain and Israel, refuses to pay ransoms to terrorists; kidnapping is a main source of income for Islamic militants. Al-Qaeda and splinter groups like ISIS have raised around $125 million extorting Western nations.

The Obama administration has admitted that it tried and failed to rescue Foley and other American hostages this summer. Attempted rescue is the correct course of action, but it is so much riskier than simply transferring money into a numbered account in some shady country. Foley paid the ultimate price for that risk as well as for our no-negotiation-with-terrorists policy.

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus, the GOP and the Content Seesaw

We’ve been taken for a ride, apparently. Or all those who were up in arms as Miley Cyrus seemed to take a wrecking ball to her fading career — i.e., concerned parents and the media that helped voice their concerns — were taken for a ride.

I sat on the sidelines of the whole affair without comment when it began immediately after the VMA awards — I honestly couldn’t see what the fuss was about her twerking. I find videos on YouTube of pubescent gay boys twerking more disturbing. I thought she was badly styled, perhaps, but in great shape and in full command of her performance. Sure, the tongue thing was supremely vulgar (if hilariously unsexy),

Jon stewart Rolling Stone

Content Creation: What the Shutdown Meltdown Says About Us

For those of us who loathe the modern GOP with as much vehemence as they loathe the Obama Administration — with the notable difference that our loathing is rational and based in verifiable, substantive fact — the latest shitstorm out of Washington has ceased to be boring business as usual with this do-nothing GOP-led Congress; it’s becoming something of a cause for celebration. Or it would be if it isn’t seeming that the inexorable decline of the GOP,

Beaten Gay Russian Protesters

Why We Should Celebrate Putin’s PR Nightmare

Public relations has always been the wild, uncontrollable step-sibling in brand management. The larger ad agencies usually have a PR department so they can offer one-stop shopping for clients, but the smaller ones eschew it; compared to running a normal ad campaign, with its focus-grouped creative and increasingly precise media-buying strategies, managing public opinion and the press is like herding cats in the most unruly anarchic badlands, and the Internet has only made those badlands even badder.

Take for instance the dissemination this week of a photograph of two female Russian athletes kissing on the medal stand. Never mind that the athletes themselves insist it wasn’t a protest of their country’s abhorrent LGBT-suppression laws;

Tony Soprano

Under the Influence: Why We Let Others Persuade Us

This all begins with The Sopranos. I keep saying that I’m currently ‘revisiting’ the series, but that’s because I’m too embarrassed to admit that I’d only seen maybe half an episode prior to this current marathon — I started with the pilot two weeks ago and am steadily working my way forward. By now I am so swayed by the brilliance of everything about this show, from the writing to the directing to the performances, that

Umberto Eco

Dangerous Minds: When Cuckoo‑Bird Conspiracies Become Real Menaces

It would seem that I’m getting paranoid myself with two back-to-back posts about conspiracies. In truth, it’s merely a coincidence, or synchronicity if you’re in a California state of mind: I was already midway through Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetery before I saw and reviewed The East.

It was at that midway point that I tweeted, “No historical novelist can touch Umberto Eco. How does he do it?” This was before I got to the end and realized, to my horror, that how he did it was by fictionalizing a true story,

Mehdi Ouzaani

Get Thee Behind Me, Obama

There was a minor outrage earlier this week after The History Channel’s The Bible aired an episode that showed Christ’s temptation by Satan.  Right-wing weeper Glenn Beck noted in a tweet, “Anyone else think the Devil in #TheBible Sunday on HIstory Channel looks exactly like That Guy?”  Beck appears to have a problem saying the President’s name, which I would call puerile if that adjective weren’t tautological when used in the same sentence as Beck, and if I didn’t have the same repulsion towards Bush 43 when he was in power;