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May 29, 2012
Commentary: Outcry, offense, and denunciation
The dustup over President Obama’s remarks today, in which he referred to “Polish death camps” while bestowing the Medal of Freedom to the late Polish resistance hero Jan Karski, is an object lesson in maintaining perspective and communicating in good faith. That his words offended many Poles is clear, and the reason for that is obvious. But immediate, condescending denunciation such as that of Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, above, who said the incident “upstaged” Karski’s award and was the result of “ignorance” and “incompetence,” reflect an assume-the-worst instinct that makes it harder to discuss offense and express contrition. President Obama (arguably) holds the most stressful and consuming job in human history — that he might let a few words slip that don’t accurately capture his meaning isn’t much of a surprise, especially in a ceremonial capacity that (I’d hope) isn’t foremost on his mind. When such a semantic offense comes about, it may better the conversation to hold back the instant, seething criticisms, which often take the offender at their absolute worst interpretation. Sometimes, a simple and earnest “hey, can we talk about this?” can go a long way. — Chris @ SFB


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The dustup over President Obama’s remarks today, in which he referred to “Polish death camps” while bestowing the Medal of Freedom to the late Polish resistance hero Jan Karski, is an object lesson in maintaining perspective and communicating in good faith. That his words offended many Poles is clear, and the reason for that is obvious. But immediate, condescending denunciation such as that of Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski, above, who said the incident “upstaged” Karski’s award and was the result of “ignorance” and “incompetence,” reflect an assume-the-worst instinct that makes it harder to discuss offense and express contrition. President Obama (arguably) holds the most stressful and consuming job in human history — that he might let a few words slip that don’t accurately capture his meaning isn’t much of a surprise, especially in a ceremonial capacity that (I’d hope) isn’t foremost on his mind. When such a semantic offense comes about, it may better the conversation to hold back the instant, seething criticisms, which often take the offender at their absolute worst interpretation. Sometimes, a simple and earnest “hey, can we talk about this?” can go a long way. — Chris @ SFB

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22:12 // 2 years ago
May 14, 2012
13:51 // 2 years ago
February 15, 2012

chandebo says: Hi, I'm a big fan of your blog from Australia and I was just watching Liz Trotta's comments on fox news regarding women in the military and it makes me really mad that someone with such rediculous comments like the reason there are women being raped is because they are there is being given air time. What do you think? Also can you please post a link if you can so your other followers can make up their own minds? Keep up the great work!

» SFB says: First, thank you for the kind words. On the matter of Liz Trotta, well, she’s been no stranger to creating controversy with her words as a Fox News analyst. She’s always been something of a anti-feminist, extremely caustic right-wing commentator, and when you fly that close to the sun, so to speak, sometimes you’ll melt your wings off. This is not to say that the right holds a monopoly on making disgusting remarks on television, to be clear, but in advocating a certain right-wing critique of feminism and bureaucracy, Trotta either completely ignored, or embraced the inhumanity of what she was saying. It goes without saying that women serving in our military deserve better than to expect to be raped by their male colleagues. As for her getting air-time — that’s in Fox News’ hands now. MSNBC seems to have split from Pat Buchanan, who on merit has held many abhorrent positions throughout his life (Trotta derided his removal, interestingly enough). While it’s a big thing to demand somebody’s firing, what Trotta said is far beyond the level of remark that’s brought down much more prominent, essential media personalities than her. Only time will tell. — Chris @ SFB

14:52 // 2 years ago
October 14, 2011
The New York Times’ personal watchdog: Does the New York Times need a watchdog following its every move and criticizing perceived biases? Most likely. The NYTimes Examiner, edited by Chris Spannos and bearing a large FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) logo on its front page, wants to play that role for the Gray Lady. And what better way to start off than with a high-profile Julian Assange interview? Sure, its off-the-shelf WordPress style doesn’t exactly shine like the NYT’s ultra-polished design, but that’s not really what it’s about, y’know.

The New York Times’ personal watchdog: Does the New York Times need a watchdog following its every move and criticizing perceived biases? Most likely. The NYTimes Examiner, edited by Chris Spannos and bearing a large FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) logo on its front page, wants to play that role for the Gray Lady. And what better way to start off than with a high-profile Julian Assange interview? Sure, its off-the-shelf WordPress style doesn’t exactly shine like the NYT’s ultra-polished design, but that’s not really what it’s about, y’know.

12:08 // 3 years ago
October 3, 2011
10:30 // 3 years ago
September 27, 2011
So even as the members of Occupy Wall Street seem unorganized and, at times, uninformed, their continued presence creates a vexing problem for the Police Department.
New York Times writer Joseph Goldstein • In an article about the NYPD’s seemingly poor handling of Occupy Wall Street. The article as a whole makes intelligent and understandable points (and goes in-depth about the use of pepper spray on Saturday), but this particular line really bothered us. This comes off as The New York Times ripping the dirty hippies for being dirty hippies, which is just an approach they should not take here. It’s condescending and shows a lack of respect for the protesters. What if they just dropped a line like that into an article about the Tea Party? It’d get savaged by the blogs! Instead of just interviewing your sources at the NYPD, Mr. Goldstein, why don’t you interview the protesters (who, we don’t know if you’ve noticed, have been clamoring for media attention), instead of discretely calling them idiots? You did it before, with this article. This piece feels like you’re writing an article about one side of the story. source (viafollow)
10:13 // 3 years ago
September 8, 2011

On seemingly strong criticism

nhaler said: Can SFB please quit putting “seemingly” before every proclamation you make? It seemingly undermines whatever you seemingly say.

» SFB says: We went back over twelve pages and counted our past 180 posts — roughly a week’s worth of posts. We’ve used “seemingly" twice. Just keep in mind that when someone used a word like “seemingly,” it’s meant not to undermine, but to basically hedge our bets in cases where we’re inferring something might be the case. In the case of the Arrington post, it’s possible his fund might not be affected. In the case of the Gore post, it’s possible that he wasn’t trying to get in a low blow on Obama. With writing content (we posted like 40 times yesterday alone), sometimes we might repeat a phrase every once in a while, but we certainly haven’t made a habit of using “seemingly.” — Ernie @ SFB

12:40 // 3 years ago
June 29, 2011
A lot of this fuss is politics… I said there would be no troops on the ground. I said we would not be carrying the lion’s share of the operation, but as members of NATO we would be supportive of it because it’s in our national security interest and it’s the right thing to do. We have done exactly what I said we would do.
President Obama • Defending his military intervention in Libya, and dismissing complaints from Congress. In the process of doing so, Obama struck a more confrontational tone towards his critics than is common for his administration. There’s a definite argument that one can make for the warfare going on in Libya, on fairly simply moral grounds — nobody really doubts what would have happened in Benghazi had nobody moved to stop it. Making that sort of argument would, we think, go a lot further to appeal to American sensibilities than judicial wrangling over defining "hostilities" would. source (viafollow)
17:00 // 3 years ago
June 13, 2011
All the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. So they can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy … But they got to get back to the real world at some point.
Miami Heat forward LeBron James • Speaking during his post-game press conference after losing the championship to the heavy underdog Dallas Mavericks in six games. This is exactly the sort of remark that feeds the public’s disdain for James, a disdain that’s been steadily growing since his decision to help form a Voltron-style superteam down in South Beach (and being not so humble doing it). What’s especially illuminating about this quote, besides the implication that the common NBA fan rooting against him is probably some tribulation-addled scrub with an unenviable life, is that it completely defeats the point he was trying to make; that he isn’t bothered by people being happy that he lost. “I don’t care what you think, cause you’re a loser with a loser life compared to mine?” Yeah, doesn’t sound like you’re quite at ease with this, man. source (viafollow)
17:24 // 3 years ago
May 18, 2011

Newt tries to stop the bleeding: There’s a problem that Newt Gingrich created in his criticisms of the Paul Ryan budget that goes very far beyond Newt himself — a rapidly approaching torrent of Democratic ads using his words against any Republican opponent who supported or voted for said budget. This stern denouncement is an attempt to blunt that effect, but will it work? Not on Senator Chuck Schumer, at least: “What Newt seems to realize is that it would be impossible to win the White House if they embrace the Ryan plan. If Republicans make endorsing the Ryan plan the standard in the Republican primary, it will make the nominee unelectable.” source

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16:58 // 3 years ago