Friday, March 09, 2007
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Turns out Pete Domenici, Republican Senator from New Mexico, may have called a U.S. Attorney in his home state to pressure him to issue indictments against Democrats implicated in a kickback investigation before the mid-term congressional elections last fall. The prosecutor, David Iglesias, was later fired, he says (with some evidence), because he resisted the pressure by Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson, another NM Republican to rush the indictments. Iglesias is one of eight U.S. Attorneys fired in December, some without cause, all under similar circumstances.
There are so many things wrong with this... first off, it is a violation of Congressional ethics for a member of congress to communicate with federal prosecutors about ongoing criminal investigations. But even if Domenici and Wilson skate by on ethics, this kind of behavior smacks of the Gestapo. The Gestapo, during its tenure, operated without any restrictions by civil authority, meaning that its members could not be tried for any of their police practices. This unconditional authority added an elitist element to the Gestapo; its members knew that whatever actions they took, no consequences would arise. Sound familiar...?
At least we hung the Nazis...will we actually let these criminals retire with pensions funded by our taxes, earned with our sweat and labor?
Saturday, March 03, 2007
"I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I -- so kind of an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards."
(Romney, by the way, distanced himself almost immediately from her remark -- he could scarcely do anything else -- yet, revealingly, refused to go the extra mile...to do the only decent thing that a decent human being would do...and distance himself from her...)
Shortly after the faggot remark, when responding to questions, Coulter said that "Romney is the best candidate we have." She said Rudy Giuliani is too liberal -- "when both candidates for president support abortion I think we can hang it up as a country." After dumping on McCain, and saluting Gingrich as a brilliant guy who's time has passed she embraced Romney: "He tricked liberals into voting for him. I like a guy who hoodwinks the voters so easily."
Actually, Ann Coulter is the walking, breathing, living exemplar of the case for working ceaselessly to preserve abortion rights in our country. Her mother would have done society a great service by aborting her...
Look, one of the great things about our country is that you can say anything, and your right to do so is enshrined in our Constitution. However vile and below contempt I may find this creature, I defend her right to spew such trash. But, because you can do a thing is not always reason to actually do it. This kind of garbage does not elevate the political discourse in our country. In fact, it reduces us to the level of animals...appealing to the basest of base instincts, our fear and hatred of that which we do not understand, that which threatens our complacency, our narrowly defined and defended view of how things ought to be. What's ironic, and in a twisted way, kinda funny, is that the most notable "faggots" of recent news have come from the same sewer as Ann (Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, Ken Mehlman?)...
Ann, and others like her, speak, act, and live without a conscience, without that internal system of checks and balances that makes one think about the effect and consequences of one's actions...either she does not consider them, or she doesn't give a damn...in either case, she is a vile creature. For certain, she lives in good company...other notable people in history who spoke and acted without conscience include Hitler, Stalin, Mao, GeeDubya... One day, Ann will get her comeuppance. I can't wait. The base instincts which she arouses in me leave me anticipating the day with great enthusiasm...
I'm increasingly struck by the extent to which we Americans have isolated ourselves from the rest of the world. By that, I mean we know very little about the rest of the world, very little about what's going on in the rest of the world, and the saddest part of all, we don't really seem to want to know about anything east of the Atlantic, or west of the Pacific, and even those things which happen north or south of the border are viewed through a very xenophobic lens.
As I write, I'm sitting in my hotel room in the UK, Berkshire, about 40 miles west of London. On television, I'm watching CNN. Yes, CNN. I've found that it's available in most of the countries to which I've traveled, but, apart from the logo in the upper left corner of the screen, most Americans who've never traveled outside the US might not recognize it. Right now, World News is on...and they're covering, truly, stories from around the world... A sampling:
- Tornadoes in Alabama
- Bus crash in Atlanta
- Incest case in Germany
- Anna Nicole Smith's funeral
- The trend of young Indians, educated abroad, returning to India
- Riots in Copenhagen
- Six Sunnis assasinated in Iraq
- Iran's president visiting Saudi Arabia ahead of a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan
- UK sending a team to Ethiopia to find missing tourists
- World weather (North and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia)
- Roger Federer wins in Dubai
- Scandal at Walter Reed
Some of the regular programs which appear on CNN:
- Inside Africa
- Inside the Middle East
- Inside Asia
- World Sport (which truly covers the world...feature story today on the debut of Daisuke Matsuzaka with the Boston Red Sox, and the Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas, the Qatar Total Open, among others)
So, who cares? Well, we should...this is CNN, not the BBC, not Al Jazeera. It's an American network, headquartered in Atlanta, and yet the CNN programming I can watch in the US represents only a small subset of the outstanding, worldwide programming that is being produced by them. Why don't they show this stuff at home? Likely, because there's no demand for it by Americans. I realize that this is a sweeping generalization, but in my experience, people outside the US are much more knowlegeable about world events, including those happening in the US, than we are, and in some cases, they seem to understand more about what's happening inside the US than we do...
I've just finished reading Bushwhacked by the late Molly Ivins, and her co-author, Lou Dubose. Ms. Ivins, for those not familiar with her, was a down home, Texas journalist who had a particular knack for political commentary. She was, to be certain, a liberal, a populist, and a Democrat. In Bushwhacked, published in 2003, Ivins and Dubose chronicle the misadventures of GeeDubya and his administration. It is an account of a tenure that I am confident will be viewed by history as the single most incompetent, destructive (of civil liberties, human rights, the US Constitution, the separation of church and state, some sense of balance between the social strata in the US ... I could go on and on), and downright criminal administrations in the history of the United States. Period. I'm fairly well-read, and yet I learned things in this book that I was completely unaware of, things which the US press has simply not covered...
There's a saying in the US (I think it's just the US) that we get the leadership we deserve...we'd best wake up, and soon. We are no longer viewed in the world as a benevolent superpower, or for that matter, a superpower at all...I fear for the world my children are growing up in...
Friday, March 02, 2007
So it shouldn't really have surprised me to learn that the marketing folks at IBM are foisting yet another...oh, let's call it a "good story" upon the world of business again. Reuters carried the story (http://www.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUSN2845453020070228), which was picked up by a host of other outlets, including the Washington Post... Basically, the new, earth-changing news is that IBM has reached a deal with Google to embed Google Gadgets into WebSphere Portal pages for IBM customers. The article goes on to blather about how IBM is (for the first time, you would believe) making it possible for businesses to leverage the really cool stuff that Google provides for business. Sounds great...except that it's not really a big deal. People seem to fail to understand that web stuff is web stuff, and portals are, well, portals. Making a big deal out of this is kinda like DirecTV boasting about bringing HBO to its customers, as though nobody had done it before (or could).
As evidence for my opinion, I offer http://sharepoint.microsoft.com/sharepoint/playground/Shared%20Documents/Gadgets.aspx.
Look, I have nothing against good marketing. I do, though, have a problem with misleading marketing...
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Anna Nicole Smith... sweet Lord... a Florida appeals court has finally lifted the stay (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17379805/) that was preventing the guarian ad litem for her daughter from burying her, finally, next to her son, in the Bahamas. With all the silliness that has ensued since her death (not unlike a lot of the silliness that surrounded her life), the thing that struck me is how little everybody -- except, interestingly, Howard K. Stern -- seemed to care about her wishes, what was best for her daughter, and so on. Her mother was especially galling, from my perspective. A true mother would not question, for a New York minute, her daughter's desire to be buried beside her son, in the place where she had chosen to make a new life... In fact, this whole circus has been about garnering advantage, and, ultimately, access to her estate...what a sad, sad state of affairs, and what absolutely shameful behavior by her mother!
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. ... I suspect that most of the folks who have been so thoroughly absorbed in the Anna Nicole story don't even know who Schlesinger is (was) (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17392935/?s). He was a Camelot insider...one of the mythic people who were part of a mythic time in American history, and he was one of its most learned chroniclers. It amazes me, always, how little appetite we have in this country for history, ours or anybody else's, so it's no great surprise that Schlesinger was not more of a rock star, outside of a certain group...
Iraq... more and more Americans are dying, and yet Bush and Cheney continue doggedly down the same path, doing the same things that have proven over and over again to not work... all this while nearly 90% of National Guard units don't have the equipment they need (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17390852/), the Taliban are re-emergent in Afghanistan (you know, the place where Osama bin Laden is still at large, where the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 are holed up... http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10624157), and those brave young boys and girls who are leaving arms and legs and the innocence of their youth behind forever are being rewarded by a grateful government with decrepit accomodations shared with rats while they recover their physical and mental faculties (and, as usual for this administration, a scapegoat's been identified and fired, as though he was single-handedly responsible... http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10624157).
Why do I increasingly get the feeling that we're living in the latter days of a modern Roman empire?