Monday, February 28, 2005

A Few New Things

Didn't have time to think much today -- I'm at a business conference, so I've had to pay attention to business issues and not the things I really care about.
But I did add a few new things to this site: Haloscan, for backtracks, and Site Meter, just because. Thanks to Pusillanimous Wanker for suggesting the former.
Since tomorrow's a travel day, I probably won't get to blog at all, but with a 5-hour flight home tomorrow night, I should have time to cook up some new ideas for posting Wednesday.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sideways and Hilarious

I watched Sideways on my flight to Brazil last week and didn't notice this, but I certainly hope it's true:

What a brilliant idea. Censoring the word "asshole" by substituting its equivalent, "Ashcroft." And the substitutions for the airline version are evidently in the actors' own voices!

Can we make a glossary of substitutions?
"Bush" for "cunt" (oh yeah, that one's already real ...)
"Cheney" for "dick" (oh yeah, that one's already real ...)
Never mind. Somebody already thought of it.

George W. Bush or "Cheney Rovesfeld"

A friend and I got into a little e-mail disagreement this weekend over how to refer to the Bush administration vs. George W. Bush personally. His suggestion was that we refer to "Bush" only when we meant the individual human who holds the office of President of the United States. For the more generic "Bush did this" sort of comment, he urged me to use the term "Cheney Rovesfeld."
I disagreed, arguing that George W. Bush needs to be held personally accountable for the acts of his administration (the topic at hand was the notice to the U.N. that the U.S. would not automatically reaffirm the 1995 statement on human rights for women (see yesterday's posts).
My friend countered that while Bush had been able to convince an unfortunately large number of people that he is a "regular guy," his top advisors have not been able to do the same, and we should highlight their role in U.S. policy under this administration.
As usual, my friend is very smart and makes a good point.
However, I'm sticking to my guns.
Last fall, during the campaign, I read a very wise article that argued against the characterization of Bush as stupid or childish. Its contention was that such characterizations, by infantilizing Bush, tend to relieve him of responsibility for his foolish, short-sighted and boorish actions. That article resonated with me.
I don't think Bush is stupid. The man is a graduate of both Yale and Harvard, and while those schools (and I say this as an alumnus of Harvard) may be more difficult to get into than to get through, admission -- even with the advantage of alumni ancestors -- is difficult and demands a level of high achievement at a young age.
No. Bush may be intellectually lazy and close-minded, he knows what he is doing.
History needs to remember him as someone who willfully damaged the United States and the world.

My Philosophical Problem With Social Security "Reform"

A month or so ago, a friendly right-winger who blogs as HimOverSin stopped by this blog and chided me for "condemning" Bush's Social Security plan before the details were even released (they still haven't been, as of this writing, thanks largely to sensible protests of the very idea of privatization).
"But what's wrong with ownership in one's SS account?," he asked me. "To get more ppl involved in the stock market?"
Here's what's wrong: Social Security is not an investment program, it is a social safety net designed to protect those who, despite the possibility of having made bad decisions during their lives -- not buying and paying off a home, not saving -- are now faced with the infirmities of old age.
That's a fundamental difference in philosophy between lefties like me and the Bush adherents who believe private investment is always by definition superior to a government-administered program.
Social Security was created in 1935 because of the disastrous results of relying on people's good judgment about how to plan for their old age. It recognizes that some will have worked harder than others, and been smarter about how to spend or invest their money over time -- and says that shouldn't matter when it comes to providing a basic standard of living for the elderly. It takes as a fundamental principle the notion that people have a right to some financial security when they are no longer able to work for a living.
So, the bottom line is there is no argument that will work for me that doesn't acknowledge that philosophical position.
HimOverSin asked me if I had a "risky" 401K. Well, yes, although I haven't contributed as much to it as I should have over the past decade. But again, I think it is a problem to conflate Social Security with pension plans and investments. They serve fundamentally different societal purposes, even if they all can be reduced at some level to the concept of providing income for old age.
I'm enough of a lefty (I'm even left-handed) to believe in the similar kind of safety net provided by Medicare and Medicaid -- two programs that many believe will be the next Republican targets after Social Security. In fact, I believe that if we are to consider ourselves a civilized society, we need to extend the concept of government-funded health care and make it a universal program. Yes, socialized medicine is what I'm talking about.
Some things need to be done because they simply are the correct thing to do (I almost said "right" -- a dangerous, loaded word if ever there was one!)
I lived for a few years in the United Kingdom, and received health care under the national program there. Here's the dirty little secret opponents of universal health care don't want you to know: It's pretty good, at least for routine medical needs. My family and I were able to see a doctor whenever we needed to, and get care that included physical therapy for chronic pain without ever having to fill out an insurance form or make a co-payment.
The clinics didn't have fancy carpeting and soft armchairs, but the doctors and nurses who worked in them were dedicated, professional and at least as caring as any I have had in the United States. They even make house calls, something I only vaguely remember from my childhood in this country.
Those who want to change Social Security and who fight universal health care often do so under the banner of "choice," ironic in that these same people seem so often to want to limit the choices of women on the issue of whether to bear children.
But I would argue that the choice being made by those who would privatize Social Security is the choice to watch our elderly risk financial ruin if they make the mistake of outliving their usefulness to the work force.
We need to be better than that as a society.
I'm not an economist, so there is a limit to my understanding of the monetary issues. But I have read quite a bit about Social Security in the past few months, and have come to understand that the proposals Bush and his supporters have embraced will do nothing to strengthen the system. Rather, they will replace it with a far riskier plan that has the additional flaw of adding to our already staggering national debt through a borrowing scheme.
Paul Krugman, always worth reading, has a very fine article in the current issue of The New York Review of Books, in which he looks in some detail at the arguments about both Social Security and health care. I don't want to start quoting him, because I'll end up putting his entire long article inside quotes, but I highly recommend that anyone who cares about these issues read it.

I Was In Brazil 10 Days Ago. Today I'm In Texas

Guess which one seems more like a foreign country to me?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Another Thought About Gannongate and the MSM

So why has the MSM mostly ignored Gannongate?
Most of the commentary I've seen on this -- courtesy of the blogosphere and Eric Boehlert -- has focused on either possible antsiness about linking the president to a gay prostitute or simple reluctance to be too hard on the president in the post-9/11 world.
I've got another theory: The MSM is simply embarrassed that it was too lazy to spot Gannon/Guckert sitting in their midst for almost two years. Not a single MSM reporter thought to question this person who came out of nowhere to appear among them with a "visitor" badge for all of this time, asking softball questions any time the going got anything close to tough for the White House.
Al Franken characterized the press as "lazy" in his recent book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. He was too kind. The MSM is lazy, corrupt, cowed, stupid, blind, etc., etc.
Thank goodness for the blogs. At least I can get information when I want it.

More On Ms. Whitman

I finished reading It's My Party Too this morning and wrote some thoughts about it in The Escondido Review. It's actually dispiriting that someone whose political thoughts hold so much promise limits her value by retaining so much loyalty to the party that has rejected her.

Outrageous and Unpublicized

Another outrageous act by the George W. Bush administration is publicized only on the blogosphere, for the most part.
I read The New York Times this morning. Why did I have to go to Pusillanimous Wankers to learn about this one?

Another U.S. Withdrawal at the United Nations? Leaders to Bush Admin: U.S. Must Reaffirm Historic Women's Human Rights Agreement

So the Bushies have refused to reaffirm the 1995 Beijing agreement, apparently because among the rights it affirms is that of choice.
These guys are so low I can hardly see them when I look down.
Many thanks to Pusillanimous Wankers for letting me know. And thanks to left-wing bloggers in general for keeping me informed about news worth knowing.

Friday, February 25, 2005

A Thank You to Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert of Salon, always a reliable source of good writing about the press, deserves a special mention for making a link that most others, including myself, had overlooked: The vast difference between the way the MSM covered the "hillbilly armor" story last December and the way it is covering the "divorced from reality" story now unfolding.
From Mr. Boehlert's column today:
"What's also curious is that last December another media controversy erupted
over the role a journalist played in posing a controversial question to top
White House officials. It involved a reporter for the Chattanooga Free Times
Press, Edward Lee Pitts, who helped a National Guardsman craft a tough question
posed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld regarding the lack of body armor
for U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq. Rumsfeld's at-times-cavalier response
created a small firestorm. ("You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army
you might want or wish to have at a later time.") The revelation that Pitts was
involved in formulating the question, and the debate over whether he overstepped
a journalistic boundary, soon became a story onto itself in the mainstream
press. Unlike Guckert, who was criticized for bending the rules to toss softball
questions to administration officials, Pitts was accused of bending the rules to
ask a question that was too hard."

In the first case, a real soldier asked a real, relevant question to the Secretary of Defense. The fact that a reporter helped him to phrase the question is pretty much irrelevant, but it was treated by the MSM as if the sky had fallen in.
And now, the fact that a prostitute sat within their midst in the White House press room for nearly two years, possibly ushered in by Bush administration skirting their own security procedures, is given life only through the efforts of bloggers like
Not only is the "liberal" press a myth, but the notion of a free and open press is fading into the mists.



OK, did that help? If you want to know why I am screaming GANNONGATE!!!!!, read this in The Raw Story.

If They're So Honest, Why Won't They Say What They Mean?

Today's front-page story in The New York Times about the efforts of Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline to obtain medical files of women and girls who had late term abortions is only one of many examples of right-wingers mislabeling their political efforts in an effort to make them more palatable to the mainstream.
Mr. Kline, a staunch, outspoken opponent of abortion rights, is presenting his demand for the medical records as an effort to combat statutory rape. The article makes clear that people on all sides of the political spectrum understand it as a fishing expedition designed to ferret out evidence that abortions have been performed in violation of Kansas' limit on abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy.
Right-wing Republicans love to portray themselves as defenders of truth, honesty and moral values. So, why is it that time and again they make these ham-handed attempts to disguise their motives in taking politically motivated actions?
If they are indeed proud of their values and believe theirs are the values of most Americans, why can't they be honest about what they are doing?
Thanks to the leftist blogs, many of us have become well aware of the attempt to distract from the Bush administration's efforts to dismantle Social Security by sliming the AARP with charges that they don't support our troops and favor gay marriage.
And, in the other biggest blog headline of the past few weeks, it's simply amazing that Ann Coulter and other right-wingnuts have couched their efforts to subvert the practice of honest journalism by accusing those who exposed Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert of being gay-bashers. (By the way, I don't doubt that Ms. Coulter has many gay friends. I simply doubt that an honest word ever has passed from her lips or her pen.)
Come on, right wingers. If you believe in your principles, just be honest about them. It would be such a refreshing change of pace.

Was Bush Wired?

Here's an interesting further chapter to a story that had me captivated for a while in the run-up to the election:

Bush Was Wired For NATO Press Conference

To me, the most interesting aspect of the story is the suppression of Bush-wiring information by the MSM in the run-up to the election. Aahhh ... that's the liberal press for ya.

And adding to the story, here's a posting at Don't Floss With Tinsel showing a very suspicious moment in a recent Bush press conference.

Is this guy a marionette or what? Actually, I don't like "puppet" talk because it tends to relieve Bush of responsibility for his own heinous actions. But I think the distinct possibility that he is unable to articulate a thought without prompting is an interesting avenue of pursuit for the investigative reporters of the blogosphere (the only ones that seem to be actually investigating anything these days -- and I'll even tip my hats to the right-wingnuts on that score. At least they are looking beyond the obvious). Did all those drugs and all that alcohol in the '60s, '70s, and '80s impair Bush's ability to think extemporaneously?

Never Thought I'd Do This

Here's a link to a sobering article in The American Conservative, warning of the fascist tendencies in the neo-conservative movement today.
Many thanks to Scott, of Just the Facts, Ma'am (redux) and Pusillanimous Wankers for providing the link that got me there.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Detroit Free Press editorial on Gannon

This post was worth stealing from and re-posting here. A very fine editorial on the Gannon/Guckert issue in the Detroit Free Press. It focuses on the security issues, as I think is appropriate.

Detroit Free Press editorial on Gannon

by John in DC - 2/23/2005 10:20:00 PM

The editorials have begun.
How is it that an administration that screened thousands of people for attendance at Bush campaign rallies repeatedly let a fake reporter into the sanctorum of the White House pressroom under a false name? Who was running that background check? How could a president who declares that national security is his prime concern be so ill served for nearly two years by his own security detail?

And it just gets better from there....


As if anyone needed proof that network television news is in an even sorrier state than print journalism, along comes Peter Jennings with a two-hour news special on UFOs, airing tonight.
I know, I know, I shouldn't condemn this report before I've watched it, but when is the last time one of the broadcast networks took two hours of prime time for any sort of relevant or substantive news report? Have I missed the networks' in-depth analyses of Social Security reform, the Iraq war, No Child Left Behind?
I don't believe so.
Instead we get two hours in a "sweeps" week on a trivial topic. I know, I know, what could be more important than the question of whether Earth's population is unique and alone in the universe. But I doubt this program is going to either answer or seriously explore that question and its scientific, social and theological implications.
I fear -- and see my fear already confirmed by the review in The New York Times this morning -- that whatever dignity Peter Jennings has left will be wasted on narration over images of blurry lights in the sky.
Maybe I was spoiled, growing up in the '60s, when the Vietnam war mobilized the population and the networks felt obligated to cover it. I remember first hating -- because they sometimes pre-empted Gilligan's Island and I Dream of Jeannie -- then, in my teens, loving the network specials that reported on and analyzed the war. People today still remember at least the titles of network news specials such as The Selling of the Pentagon.
What's happened to TV journalism? Of course, there are many reasons for its decline. The Fox News factor is certainly one of them, but I think the trivialization of news began far too long ago for Rupert Murdoch to take all of the blame.
No, there has been a conscious effort by the networks to blend news and entertainment since at least the late 1970s, when Good Morning America became the first network morning news show to be produced by a network entertainment division.
The giant corporations -- General Electric, Disney, Viacom -- that run the major networks today evidently feel no obligation to educate and inform the public. Any obligation the FCC might have put on them in the past has been erased by an agency that today seems only to care about Janet Jackson's nipple ring and SpongeBob's sexuality.
So what we get in the name of news is a ridiculous effort to grab ratings with lowest-common-denominator tabloid fare masquerading as news.
Thanks for offering, but I will be reading a book -- after, of course, I get my weekly dose of The OC. I prefer my trash to come honestly packaged and labeled.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Christine Todd Whitman: A Lesson In Self-Deception

I referred in my last post to Christie Whitman's book, It's My Party Too as a comic rant. I'd like to clarify that a bit.
I'm only about a third of the way through it, but her complaints about the Republican party have me screaming, "Well, what did you expect?"
My father used to say (well, he said once that I remember) "if you lie down with dogs, you get fleas."
It's a perfect aphorism to toss at Ms. Whitman.
For 40 years now (beginning with Goldwater) the Republican party has been not only flirting with, but consummating relationships with a number of questionable "special interest groups" including the Religious right, anti-tax fanatics, racists, xenophobes, etc. This has not been done covertly. When George W. Bush made his trip to Bob Jones University in 2000, it was heavily covered by the press. When his father made the decision to play on racist fears by making Willie Horton the centerpiece of his campaign, this was a key advertising decision.
So how is it that a nationally prominent Republican like Ms. Whitman comes to be outraged by her party's embrace of the right? They have been doing this for her entire political career, and she has played along with it, serving as W's New Jersey campaign chair even after her humiliating tour of duty as EPA Administrator.
Sorry, but she is part of the problem, not a potential solution. Her outrage is a joke.
Her appearance last month on The Daily Show is the only time that program ever left me screaming at the TV screen the way I so often do when I make the (admittedly poor) decision to watch Chris Matthews or Bill O'Reilly.
She may have grown up in a rational Republican household, but her party has been leaving behind its legacy of reasonable conservatism ever since Goldwater came out in favor of "extremism in the defense of liberty."
I'll have more to say about this book in my other blog, The Escondido Review, when I finish reading it. I just had to get a few thoughts out here now.

Something Random

Try this and pass it on:

1.Grab the nearest book.
2.Open the book to page 123.
3.Find the fifth sentence.
4.Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5.Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

Here's one from You Can Always Tell a Harvard Man by Richard Bissell, which happens to be sitting on my desk:

"It's true that Elmer Gantry got through Divinity School but I don't think it
was Harvard though I am not sure."

And here's one from a book I happen to be reading at this time (although it was not next to me at the moment), Christine Todd Whitman's comic rant It's My Party Too:

"I didn't believe that for a minute, and as the number of calls from reporters
grew throughout the day, it was clear I was right to be concerned."

This entertaining little game came from the Scooter Blue blog. Pass it on.

Learning From Our Elders

An inspiring piece on the front page of The New York Times this morning tells about the undying efforts of older Americans to remain in the loop in the Social Security fight, even as the Bush administration tries to target its message at young people.
I am very glad to hear this. Older Americans (oops -- am I one of them now? At 48, I'm having trouble feeling that way) are setting a good example in their insistence on being heard on this issue and on "straightening out" the young ones who might be easy prey for the misinformation spread by George W. Bush, Rick Santorum and others.
Here's to gray -- the new red, white and blue!

A Site That Found Me

I received an e-mail yesterday from an organization I had not heard of: American Family Voices. The right has me so brainwashed with their appropriation of the word "family" that I almost deleted this without reading it, but in the interest of avoiding work, I decided to open and read it. I was glad.
American Family Voices appears to be a group for those of us who understand what "family values" really are: Who understand that Social Security is a family value, that peace is a family value, that protecting Americans from Enron is a family value. It is aimed primarily at working-class families.
Check it out.

Monday, February 21, 2005

A Wonderful Cartoon

Check it out. If I were more tech-savvy I'd reprint it, but here's the link:

The title: "Further Ways to Argue Like a Conservative: A Sadly Ongoing Series"

On The Pleasures of a Rainy Day

It's a gray, rainy day at my house. Everyone except for me is currently asleep, and I have just gotten up from bed to make myself some lunch.
I am glad that my family is in the house, but equally glad that they are all asleep and not infringing on my solitude at the moment.
As it's a holiday, my big decision of the moment is whether to spend the next few hours reading or watching TV.
When I was younger, I used to call in sick to work on occasion to take advantage of days like this, when I could lazily choose among the pleasures of the quiet life -- reading, watching TV, perhaps cooking and dining on some good, warming food. Rainy days seem particularly appropriate to this sort of hedonism.
When I was even younger, it was "snow days," when school was unexpectedly called off, that most often led to this kind of soul-satisfying leisure.
Whatever the inspiration, it is a pleasure to which I want to return more often.

Some Really Depressing Poll Results

Two polls -- one commissioned by Washington College and one by CNN-USA Today -- show that large numbers of Americans rate Ronald Reagan as our greatest president. In the Washington College poll, he came in second only to Abraham Lincoln, and in the CNN-USA Today poll he led all others (tied for second were Lincoln and Bill Clinton). Further down both lists were Frenklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.
What these polls show is an alarming lack of historical sense. Reagan -- who declared that trees were a major cause of pollution and tried to have ketchup passed off as a vegetable for school children -- greater than Lincoln, Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Truman, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson?
I don't think Americans are stupid, but I think this poll shows that they are extraordinarily ignorant of their nation's history. While the elevation of Reagan to the top of the list strikes me as particularly irrational, I would also question the high scores given to Clinton and Kennedy. All of this tells me that many Americans understand history with no more than a sort of "People magazine" perspective, in which both glamour and scandal trump substance.
But I want to dwell on Reagan for just a moment, because I find the lionizing of this man particularly troubling.
It may be true that George W. Bush's miserable presidency has made Reagan's look brilliant by comparison, but let's not forget the coarsening of political life that Reagan and his administration engendered. The most notable activity in Reagan's two terms was the Iran/Contra scandal, a deadly serious breach of the Constitution for which Reagan left to his successor, George H.W. Bush, the task of pardoning the criminals at its helm.
It seems particularly significant today, as W and his henchmen rattle their swords at Iran, that Reagan and his team subverted the Constitution by secretly shipping arms to a nation that had only recently held hundreds of U.S. citizens captive for more than a year.
I'm sure that any Red-staters who might stop by this blog today will glibly remind me that Reagan "crushed" Communism, as if the Soviet Union really needed anyone's help in being buried beneath its own intrinsic inconsistencies, cruelties and bureaucratic maneuverings. Sorry, guys. The Soviet Union would have failed even had Mr. Reagan not made kissy-face with Mikhael Gorbachev.
Reagan also has been widely and mystifyingly credited with somehow saving the American economy by creating the largest debt in our nation's history -- until the GW Bush administration topped it. Sorry again, guys. It took most of the Clinton administration to pull this country out of the abyss of debt created by Reagan and his Republican successor. But many of us remember that by the end of eight years of a Democratic administration, we were running a healthy budget surplus that has been squandered by the second Bush.
Reagan the greatest president? I don't think so. Not even in the top half.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

What's the Deal?

My little town was host yesterday to a "press conference" held by about a dozen opponents of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in the state of California. Why this meeting of intolerant bigots, no larger than many a Rotary club breakfast or a senior citizens shopping trip, was deemed worthy of front-page-local-section coverage in my local paper is a question worth pondering.
But even more mystifying is the argument these so-called "Christians" make that same-sex marriage would be harmful to heterosexual marriage. One of the leaders of this band of thugs is quoted as saying that legalizing same-sex marriage would send dangerous "mixed messages" to young people.
For years I have wondered this: Are these people afraid that heterosexuality couldn't hold its own in a free market?

Why the Jeff Gannon Story Is Important

The Jeff Gannon story is not merely a humorous chuckle over a gay prostitute who gained White House access posing as a reporter for a right-wing "news" organization. It is a story about National Security and how the Bush administration was willing to overlook its own policies in order to gain favorable press coverage, and that is much more significant.
Recent reports document that "Gannon," whose real name is Jim Guckert, attended White House press briefings as early as February 2003, several months before the creation of the "news" organization, Talon, for which he later worked as Washington bureau chief and reporter.
Now getting into the White House press room is not -- or should not be -- an easy trick.
To get a "hard" press pass, one that allows regular access, evidently involves a thorough background check that can take several months to complete. Gannon/Guckert never had one of these. Instead, for nearly two years, he obtained "daily" passes, the kind meant for visiting journalists who do not normally cover the White House. Presumably because of its short term and short-notice requests for it, this type of pass involves only an abbreviated background check.
I have never applied for a White House press pass, but I am told, and most certainly believe, that they are extremely difficult to obtain. So how did a gay prostitute with no journalistic education or background gain steady access to one?
Guckert was turned down when he applied for press access to the Capitol, a process that I understand is controlled by the working press and is supposedly a prerequisite for a White House press pass.
It took a few days for this story to be picked up by the mainstream press, perhaps because of its "unsavory" sexual aspect, and perhaps because the big corporations that run most major press organs really didn't want to run with a story that could be so embarrassing to the Repbulican administration they coddle. But now it's out there. The Washington Post and The New York Times have both covered it, as have the television news outlets. It's even gotten comic treatment from "The Daily Show" and Bill Maher.
But only a few are picking up on the fact that this man with no credentials and an unsavory past gained almost unheard-of access to a room that put him in close proximity with the president, at a time when White House security is supposedly at an all-time high. If the White House did not know that Guckert was a prostitute, it is only a small leap of logic to suggest that he might have made it inside the doors had he been a terrorist.
What or who did Guckert "do" to secure this extraordinarily preferential treatment? And isn't that person guilty at least of extremely bad judgment that in any ordinary administration would have consigned him to unemployment? At least? After all, this person theoretically put the President in harm's way.
Why aren't Republicans jumping up and down and demanding blood over this breach? Could it be that Guckert's patron is so high up in the administration or the party that exposure would be more humiliating than they could tolerate? Is a major security breach preferable to embarrassment?
One who has commented on the security aspect of this story is Senator Joe Biden, whose comment I lift from, which opened up this story and has done the most thorough job of covering it:

"Why isn't every major network in the country investigating a security breach,
forget anything else. How could the FBI, for 17 years I was chairman of the
Judiciary Committee, the ranking member. I've read more FBI reports than I ever
wanted to know. How could that happen and no one had any idea who this guy
was?... The Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate should be
investigating it. The House Judiciary should be investigating it. And if it were
the other party in charge, it would be investigated."


The United States In the World

Just back from my first visit to Brazil, a brief, two-day business trip to Sao Paulo. Sao Paulo strikes me as a very civilized, if intimidatingly huge city whose middle-class inhabitants understand how to live well. Yes, I know I must be ignoring an enormous and troubling amount of poverty and despair, but other than a view of a favela or two from the car window, I simply did not encounter that aspect of Brazil on this trip.
What did strike me immediately upon landing, however, is that the citizens of the United States are paying a price for the arrogance of our administration. At the immigration desk in Sao Paulo there are two lines, one for everyone entering the country, and a second one labeled "U.S. Citizens Only." Those of us from the United States are required, after we go through the passport check required of everyone else in the world who wants to enter Brazil, must queue up in a second line to be photographed and fingerprinted.
This stems from the post-9/11 decision by the United States to photograph and fingerprint visitors from countries for which entry visas to the U.S. are required. The practice went into effect in January 2004. In retaliation, Brazil began fingerprinting and photographing visitors from the U.S., a process which, while not onerous in and of itself, can add quite a bit of time to entry for people already tired from the 8-hour-plus flight from the states. Bloggers have complained of waits of up to 9 hours in line at Brazilian airports (mine was perhaps 30 minutes).
So, does this photography and fingerprinting make either U.S. or Brazil citizens safer? Could it prevent a terrorist attack? I doubt it. I have not heard of these terrorists who would be deterred by the inconvenience of standing in line to be fingerprinted. And I am quite sure that terrorist organizations would have little trouble finding recruits who would not show up on terrorist lists. After all, the United States foreign policies under George W. Bush have created terrorist breeding grounds around the world.
So what we end up with is a practice that probably does little except to inconvenience tourists and business travelers from both the U.S. and Brazil. To U.S. citizens who complain (like the colleague who was travelling with me) I say this: If the United States government is determined to say "f--- you" to the rest of the world, it should not be surprised when the world responds in kind.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Full Court Press

I'm not sure the title for this post makes much sense, but it's my blog and I'll do what I want.
It's time to step back a little from today's top stories and reflect.
I've read a lot today about the Judy Miller/Matthew Cooper court ruling, some of it in response to questions I raised on several blogs.
I'm going to try to make some sense of what I think is a confusing story.
Let's review the core issues (I'm providing lots of links because I think it's important for those who want to understand this -- like myself -- to get back to the source information):
  • Someone leaked to the press the information that Valerie Plame, wife of former diplomat Joseph Wilson, was a covert CIA operative. While at least six journalists reportedly received the tip, only conservative columnist Robert Novak when to press with it, on July 14, 2003.
  • On September 28, 2003, the Washington Post reported that, "a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife." (Sorry -- I couldn't find the Post story, but this is's commentary on it)
  • It has been widely assumed that this information was leaked as an act of revenge by Bush adminsitration officials against Mr. Wilson. Why? Because Novak's column was published shortly after Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times lambasting President Bush for citing in his State of the Union address flawed intelligence about an attempt by Saddam Hussein to purchase uranium yellowcakefrom Niger, as part of his reasoning for the Iraq war.
  • The revelation of the identity of covert CIA operatives is a felony, under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.
  • On September 30, 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a formal investigation into the leak, and on December 30 of that year appointed Patrick J. Fitzgerald as special prosecutor to lead the investigation.
  • In the course of his investigation, Mr. Fitzgerald subpoenaed several reporters, including Matt Cooper (Time), Tim Russert (NBC News), Walter Pincus (Washington Post), and Judith Miller (New York Times).
  • Ms. Miller, who had become a controversial figure due to her reporting on weapons of mass destruction in the leadup to the Iraq war -- reporting that the Times later took the unusual step of disavowing -- rose to the forefront of the Plame investigation when she refused to testify and were cited for contempt of court.
  • Mr. Cooper, Mr. Russert and Mr. Pincus all gave depositions in which they reportedly discussed information they were given by I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, an anonymous source who had waived his confidentiality. But both Mr. Cooper and Ms. Miller refused to testify before grand juries.
  • Mr. Cooper and Time Inc. were found in contempt of court on August 9, 2004.
  • Ms. Miller was found in contempt on October 7, 2004.
  • Today, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel unanimously upheld the contempt citations, rejecting the First-Amendment arguments of attorney Floyd Abrams, who represented both defendants.
  • Robert Novak has never revealed whether he has been subpoenaed or testified in this matter. Editor & Publisher reports today that, "It is widely believed by reporters and lawyers involved in the probe that he reached a negotiated 'arrangement' with Fitzgerald -- and that he 'sang.' "

So, what does all this mean? Is it a case of brave reporters risking imprisonment to defend the principles of the U.S. Constitution against the encroachments of the government? Or is it a case of protecting a criminal? Could it be both?

Probably. As a former journalist, I may be a bit of a First Amendment extremist, but I do think that compelling journalists to reveal their sources is a scary thing. Yes, in this case, the source may have committed a felony, but I wholheartedly disagree with the blogger who told me that national security concerns trump the First Amendment.

If the First Amendment is discarded or cheapened, just what is it we will be securing? The U.S. Constitution, while not a flawless document, is a remarkable one -- one that has no superior as a framework for government. And the first amendment was designed to protect a number of basic freedoms: Religion, speech, assembly, and justice under the law. The First Amendment, while obviously open to interpretation, is pretty clear in its instruction that Congress shall make no law "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."

The irony in this case is that neither Mr. Cooper nor Ms. Miller wrote directly about the leaked information. Neither wrote anything about Ms. Plame's identity until after Mr. Novak had spilled the beans, and only Mr. Cooper did so then. Mr. Fitzgerald has pursued them for their supposed knowledge of information important to his investigation.

Indeed, the fact that Ms. Miller did not write about the case -- only gather information for a possible article she then decided not to file -- is one of the arguments against according her any privileged status in this case. If she did not report the information in the press, she is not protected from revealing the names of those who told her things.

Here's what I think:

  • I am not happy that the person who leaked Ms. Plame's identity to the press remains unnamed and unpunished. This person committed a crime, and circumstances suggest strongly that this crime was committed for reasons of political vengeance. That is intolerable.
  • I believe strongly in the right of the press to freely pursue its goals of publishing information in the public interest, without interference from the government. I am, as I said earlier, a bit of a First Amendment "extremist."
  • I believe that Mr. Fitzgerald should pursue all other available means of ascertaining the identity of the leaker. Perhaps he has done so (Tim Grieve reports in tonight that Judge David Tatel indicated he believes so and that eight pages of Tatel's opinion were blanked out because they contained secret grand jury material), but that imperative is worth stating.
  • I believe there are circumstnaces in which a reporter has no obligation to honor an agreement to protect a source. I think this case is a perfect example where the public interest would be served by revelation of the leaker's identity. However, I believe it is unconditionally the reporter's right to decide whether to reveal the source's identity. Personal morality should be the driver here, not compulsion by the government.

More later. I'm tired. I didn't even draw any serious conclusions here, but I gave myself a good refresher on this whole issue.

Strange Item In the Blogosphere

What should we make of this story, which evidently surfaced first in the Toronto Globe & Mail and gained life on various blogs:

Just Plain Creepy

Many of us are well aware of the creepiness of George Bush. Recently, though, he has plumbed new depths during this past Americas Summit in Monterey, Mexico. When the BHC saw this, we had to check that we weren't mistakenly reading a story on The Onion. But no, and the BHC believes that The Globe and Mail is a little less fictional than the Onion. Apparently, Mr. Bush met a Mr. Scott Reid, senior strategist for Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, and took quite a fancy to him. Bush began asking Mr. Reid what he did for the PM and when Reid deigned to answer, Bush ready for this?"Well, you got a pretty face," he told the surprised Mr. Reid. He wasn't done. "You got a pretty face," he said again. "You're a good-looking guy. Better looking than my Scott anyway."
Now, "my Scott" could be referring to Press Secretary, Scott McClellan but, maybe not....Yeesh, gotta go wash.


Maybe I'm just too dumb or too naive to understand the American justice system.
I just read that a U.S. Court of Appeals panel has unanimously ruled that Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine must testify before a grand jury in connection with the leaking of information regarding the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame.
I'm not terribly surprised that the courts have ruled against freedom of the press. That is unfortunately quite common.
What I don't understand is how Robert Novak, who actually published the story that betrayed Ms. Plame's identity to the world, has managed to avoid being ordered to testify. And yet, two reporters who never wrote about Ms. Plame may go to jail for up to 18 months.
Is there some part of this story that I just don't understand? I have to believe that something is going on that either has escaped my understanding or the attentions of the press.
Has the press failed to provide a thorough analysis of this situation?n Or have I missed the articles that would make all of this clear to me?

A New Forum for Dialogue

It's just getting started, so I can't really recommend it, but I do urge you to take a look at a new online magazine, Blue and Red, whose goal is dialogue between the political factions in the United States.
I wish them great success.

From The Heartland

A daily newspaper in an unlikely geography -- Salt Lake City -- is the only one I have found so far to have picked up on the latest Guckert/Gannon revelations.
Here's a link to John Yewell's column on the revelations:

"Jeff" and Sister Lucia

Not much to say yet this morning.
The mainstream media (shall I begin using the popular abbreviation MSM?) is doing its best to ignore the latest chapter in the Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert story. Only has picked up on it, and while Eric Boehlert's article is very good, the inattention from the rest of the press is disturbing.
The planting of a gay prostitute within the press corps to lob softball questions at George W. Bush and Scott McClellan is significant, not because Mr. Guckert is gay or a prostitute, but because it is exemplary of the extreme hypocrisy of this administration.
That stories are now surfacing about Mr. McClellan's private life is not coincidental, I'm sure. Someone had to recruit Mr. Guckert into this role. I have no problem with Mr. McClellan's sexuality or even Mr. Guckert's (beyond his unhealthy line of business), but I do have a problem with their hypocrisy in supporting Mr. Bush's anti-gay agenda while living a double life.
More troubling to me is that Mr. Guckert sat among the press corps for two years, and nobody in that esteemed group seems to have questioned his identity or credentials. I find it hard to believe that nobody thought anything was off-kilter here.


Only the BBC, among news outlets I look at, is paying much attention to the death of Sister Lucia. Again, too bad. It's a fascinating story, probably the most famous "religious vision" event of the 20th century, maybe the most famous since the apparitions of the Virgin at Lourdes.

Monday, February 14, 2005

More on Jeff Gannon

So now it appears that "Jeff Gannon" aka Jim Guckert is -- or has been -- a gay prostitute.
Check out the real investigative journalism taking place in the blogosphere:
Let's review this story. It's pretty amazing.
Jeff Gannon, reporter and Washington bureau chief for Talon News, raised eyebrows on January 26 by asking a "softball" question to President George W. Bush at a press conference. The question suggested that congressional Democrats who talked of economic problems are "divorced from reality."
Despite the Washington press corps' generally fawning attitude toward Mr. Bush, this question was odd enough to prompt reporters to look into Mr. Gannon's background and into the workings of Talon News.
Within days, it was reported that several of Mr. Gannon's stories were lifted verbatim from White House press releases. He resigned from Talon last week, on February 8.
The next day, Media Matters For America reported that last year, Sean Hannity had paid tribute to him as a "terrific" reporter and bureau chief.
Investigation by the press and, more importantly, bloggers around the country, continued. Simultaneously, several story threads began to be reported.
It was revealed that Jeff Gannon was a pseudonym for Jim Guckert, who had registered domain names for several gay porn websites. In interviews, Mr. Guckert said that he had registered these domains on behalf of unnamed "clients."
At the same time, it was surfacing that Mr. Gannon/Guckert was among the reporters to whom the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame had been leaked.
Stories about Mr. Guckert's "journalism" also began to circulate widely. He got more publicity than he ever had during his time as a working "journalist." News outlets and blogs reported that he had castigated John Kerry for advancing a gay-friendly agenda and had reported that Kerry would be the first "gay" president. Interestingly, he had also reported on an unfounded rumor that Kerry had had an extramarital affair -- with a woman.
Last Friday, Media Matters for America reported that Mr. Guckert's only journalistic training had come at The Leadership Institute School of Broadcast Journalism, a far-right organization. reported that Mr. Guckert had never received a permanent White House press pass, but was able to secure day passes. This highly unusual pattern was evidently supported by the White House. The importance of this bit of information is that a "hard" press pass requires an extensive background check, while a day pass requires a much abbreviated background check.
And today, we find out more about why Mr. Guckert might have wanted to avoid a full check: He was evidently working as a gay prostitute.
A story too strange to be fiction.

Small Thoughts For Today

It's a day of interesting obituaries.
In addition to Sister Lucia, I read of the death of an actress, Beverly Dennis, who had been blacklisted in the 1950s by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Why was she blacklisted. Said fellow blacklisting victim and friend Lee Grant: She probably "signed a few petitions like the rest of us."
It's interesting to reflect on the phenomenon of McCarthy era blacklisting, at a time when the careers of a few noted journalists -- Dan Rather and Eason Jordan to be specific -- have been damaged so viciously by bloggers.
From my left-wing perspective, the damage done to Mr. Rather and Mr. Jordan is regrettable, unlike the justified exposure of the Bush administration's payoffs to journalists and its support of phony journalist "Jeff Gannon" (aka Jim Guckert).
Dan Rather and Eason Jordan are distinguished journalists who have done much honorable work in their long careers. While there may be valid questions about the stories that have laid them low, they remain -- very importantly -- questions. Nobody -- including the CBS news investigators whose report led to the dismissal of four senior staff members -- has shown that the documents used in Mr. Rather's report on George W. Bush's military "service" were false. The case still is open. And nobody seems to have produced a text of Mr. Jordan's comments about the deaths of journalists in Iraq, which were made in a supposedly off-record speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (the same "off-the-record" event at which the attendance and remarks of Angelina Jolie and Sharon Stone were extensively covered -- what does "off the record" mean anymore?).
Mr. Guckert, on the other hand, is a phony, pure and simple. A propogandist who gained favored access to the White House press room because of his blatant partisanship.
But that's my perspective, and I'm always interested in reasoned arguments to the contrary.
My blogging buddy Jude Nagurney Camwell has written some interesting posts about Eason Jordan and the controversy surrounding his resignation.


Another death reported today: The singer Tyrone Davis. His early 1970s song, "If I Could Turn Back the Hands Of Time," was a fav.orite of mine at the time of his release. More sweet music in heaven

For the first time in a very long time, I noticed a byline by Judy Miller in The New York Times this morning. A small story, buried on page A12, about bribery of an inspector in Iraq. Judy is someone about whom I have very mixed feelings. I knew her 25 years ago, when I worked as a research clerk at the Washington bureau of The New York Times. At the time, I found her arrogant and nasty, a shrill prima donna without much justification for being so (what did I really think of her, you might ask). She was part of a "Young Turks" faction that hung out with young Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., who was paying his dues as a reporter at the time. Also in that group, Steve Rattner (now a well-known investment banker), Steve Weisman, and, on the periphery, a few folks like Bobby Reinhold and Karen deWitt. Bobby and Karen were extremely nice people, Arthur and the Steves were okay if a little self-satisfied.
Because I had disliked her at the Times, I was not unhappy when the serious flaws in Judy's reporting on Weapons of Mass Destruction in the leadup to the Iraq war were exposed. However, I was appalled when I read later that she might be sent to jail for refusing to name a source for a story she had never written -- about Valerie Plame.
The fact that Judy, who had not written about what she was told, could be targeted while Robert Novak, the right-wing columnist who feloniously exposed Ms. Plame's identity as a CIA operative, seems to be immune, has struck me as one of the most amazing absurdities in journalism today.
It put me on Judy's side, maybe for the first time ever. So it's good to see her byline back in print. Of her controversial recent appearance on CNN, when she talked about news that had never appeared in the Times and was taken to task by the paper's public editor: Just goes to show, some people just can't stay out of trouble ...

Farewell, Sister Lucia

A small item in my local paper -- not even a bona fide obituary -- notes that Sister Lucia Marto, the last survivor among the three children who saw visions of the Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, has died.
I have long found the Fatima visions to be among the most interesting religious events of recent history. This is mostly because of the controversy over the third prediction given to the children by the Virgin. The Catholic Church long refused to divulge this last prediction (the first two had prophecied the World Wars and the re-emergence of Christianity in Russia) and when it did finally reveal it in 2000 there was widespread skepticism about it.
Here's a pretty good summary of the controversy:
I love a good religious controversy -- not because I am anti-religion, but because I believe that mainstream, orthodox churches have suppressed much interesting history. Now that The Da Vinci Code has become a global phenomenon, I know that I am not alone in this interest. Maybe a little too far from alone.
Anyway, back to Fatima. When Sister Lucia wrote down the prophecies in the 1940s and gave them to her local bishop, she said that the Virgin had instructed that the third prediction be revealed in 1960. When that year arrived, the Vatican refused to release the text of the prophecy, saying the world was not ready for it.
On May 13, 2000, the 19th anniversary of the attempt on his life by Mohammed Ali Agca, Pope John Paul II visited Fatima and revealed the text, part of which reads,

"...the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half
with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed
the souls of
the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top
of the
mountain, on his
knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed
by a group
of soldiers who
fired bullets and arrows at him..."
The Pope said that this text related to the assassination attempt. But many
have doubted that connection -- the setting and circumstances are far
-- and even that this is the real text of the final prophecy.

When I was in high school or college, the sister of a friend was collaborating on a suspense novel about the third prophecy. To my knowledge, that novel never appeared. But it was a great idea, I think.

The other aspect of my interest in the Fatima story is what I perceive as the
sincerity of Sister Lucia's faith. She devoted her life to the Church, and died
yesterday as a nun at the age of 97. She spent her life cloistered and with
little communication outside the church. She believed.

I scoured The New York Times for mention of her passing, and could find
nothing in the National Edition, which is what I receive at home. I'm assuming
this was just due to deadlines and that this event will be covered tomorrow.

Sister Lucia deserves to be remembered by the world. Those of us who know
something about her story are fascinated and want to know more.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


The drumbeat has become too relentless to ignore: A steady stream of Muslim men tell of being kidnapped by mysterious Americans, transported to unknown locations and tortured.
The disgusting implication is that the United States government has adopted "outsourced" torture as a policy. I have not yet received the issue of The New Yorker in which Jane Mayer discusses this revolting activity.
But if this proves true, I will be abjectly ashamed to be a citizen of a country that not only condones but facilitates torture. Of anyone. For any reason.
No. Suspected terrorist ties -- or even proven terrorist ties -- are not justification.
Nothing is. Nothing could be.
We have an obligation -- to God, to ourselves, to the world -- to stand above activities like this. The Bushies love to talk about America as a beacon of liberty. Torture puts out this light.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Deep Throat

After my last post, it seems appropriate to make a comment on a "classic" I still have not seen, despite what I presume to be its wide availability on video: Deep Throat. Of the "prestige porn films of the mid 1970s, I saw only The Devil In Miss Jones, which was supposed to be special because its star, Georgina Spelvin, could actually act.
It's been a long time since I saw that one in a dining hall at Harvard's Quincy House. Deep Throat was shown there too, if I recall correctly. Don't know why I never saw it.
I did read Linda Lovelace's two books of expose, published in the 1980s, and was strongly moved by her story of force participatio0n in Deep Throat. Maybe that's part of the reason why I never cared much about seeing it. Maybe it's my wife's deep opposition to pornography in our home. Or maybe there are other reasons that I'm unable to articulate very well.
I'm not sure there's a point to this posting other than to say that the widespread comment on the new documentary Inside Deep Throat is interesting to me in its description of a lost moment in time: That period in the 1970s when hardcore porn enjoyed status as "chic."
It's bizarre looking back on that period and thinking about how times have changed.
Now we have the Internet as the safe haven for porn.

Video, Taxes and Social Security

I finally saw "The Winter's Tale" last night and this morning. Video made it possible for me to watch this late Shakespeare play, in a well-acted production filmed for the BBC.
Video has provided many pleasures for me in middle age. I've been able to see great plays and films that I have waited 30 years or more to watch -- Ray's Apu trilogy, fine mid-career Ingmar Bergman films such as Shame and The Passion of Anna, Fellini works such as The White Sheik and La Dolce Vita.
The release of these works on DVD, coupled with the ability to purchase virtually anthing online, has made it possible for me to "catch up" on art -- both great and popular -- that I've missed. That's something to be greatful for.
Watching The Winter's Tale reminds me of the great wonder of Shakespeare -- how playable it is, despite language that on paper may seem difficult to decipher. It's eminently actable and totally absorbing for the viewer. As I finish up with my weeks-long viewing of Ken Burns' epic TV series Jazz, the possibility of seeing all 37 Shakespeare plays looms large for me. Definitely weekend viewing to look forward to.
I am fortunate that my local public library is noted for carrying the best video selection west of the Mississippi. I can rent these DVDs and tapes for a week for 50 cents. A great bargain, and one of the best arguments I know for paying taxes.
I read recently that the public library in Salinas, California had closed. The birthplace of John Steinbeck has no public library, thanks to the irrational hue and cry of those who oppose paying taxes for any reason.
It's a situation both silly and tragic.
And it is one that should give pause to those who support George W. Bush's insidious call for Social Security "reform." Bush and his henchmen now have acknowledged that their private account scheme will do nothing to stabilize the Social Security system for those who choose not to pull money out of this secure harbor and put it into risky hands. And yet there seem to still be many people who are willing to give up the greatest social program this nation has ever devised -- one that has kept countless hard-working citizens from ending their days in abject poverty -- in the name of "ownership." What good is ownership, when the view from your castle is one of poverty and despair.
The Bushes of the world may be able to close their eyes to this, but I for one cannot.
As a society, we are only as strong as our weakest member, and Social Security is a system that has made each and every one of us stronger. I for one would be willing to pay more into the system -- either through a higher tax rate or through taxation of a larger portion of my income (I am one of those fortunate enough to make more in a year than the system is currently taxing -- and, feeling blessed in this, am willing to share).
I urge everyone who stumbles across this post to join me in fighting this small-minded and nasty "reform" effort. Let the progressives be the conservatives in this case -- the ones fighting to hold onto the good that we've got.
And while we're at it, let's make plain our willingness to pay taxes for other fine social benefits, such as public library systems that allow all of us to enjoy books and the arts at a low price.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Gayest President

There has been a fair amount of silly controversy recently over a book that argues that Abraham Lincoln was a homosexual. More recently, that has been overshadowed by the even sillier controversy over a cartoon bunny who visits a cartoon family with two cartoon lesbian mothers.
But it all does beg a certain question with regard to this curiously homophobic administration: Does anybody really have any trouble figuring out who the most obviously gay president in American history is?
Could it be the one who dresses up in Village People drag and prances around on the deck of an aircraft carrier? Then goes home and puts on his lumberjack drag to pretend to be jes' plain fo'ks choppin' brush. George W. Bush's predilication for costumes and accessories -- military attire is not at all a requirement nor a custom for the commander in chief, folks -- is more than a little reminiscent of the "macho macho man" scene of the disco era. What next? A fishnet T-shirt?
Didn't he also dance with Ricky Martin? And we all know what has been whispered about Ricky Martin over the years (sorry, Ricky. I don't mean to slander you if the rumors are false)
Republicans have a long history of using homophobic language in pathetic attempts to hide homosexual behavior. J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn are only the most prominent examples of their perfidy.
The Bush administration has boasted a whole host of strangely asexual and/or curiously sex-obsessed officials: Condoleeza Rice, John Ashcroft (so freaked out by the sight of the female breast that he can't even stand to see it depicted in marble statuary?????), Gover Norquist.
And while I strongly oppose the outing of gay men and women in general, I make a strong exception for those who espouse hateful and toxic anti-homosexual positions -- like those of Mr. George W. Bush.
The ironic thing is, if George W. Bush were gay, that would be the only inoffensive thing about him.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The "Up Yours" Administration

Another item I did not write about last week:
The controversy over Vice President Dick Cheney's attire -- a casual green ski parka, in contrast to the more formal clothing worn by other dignitaries -- at a memorial service for Holocaust victims. Mr. Cheney's choice of outerwear was commented on by European news outlets as displaying a lack of respect for the occasion.
Of course, they are right.
This was, quite simply, another case of the Bush administration saying, "Up Yours!" to the world and world opinion.
That became quite clear when another picture showed Mr. Cheney in dressier attire for a reception that he attended as part of the same trip. He had properclothing with him, in other words. He just chose not to wear it, as a friend of mine pointed out.
The "Up Yours" administration has shown time and time again its contempt for the world. Rejection of the Kyoto treaty. The detention of foreign nationals without charge at Guantanamo. The hostile dismissal of world opinion leading up to the Iraq invasion. The ignoring of the Geneva Conventions at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo.
Sorry, but the necessities of security do not excuse the unwillingness to discuss or explain. What Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Perle, Bush and their cronies display is smug hostility, pure and simple.
Is it any wonder our country gets no respect in the world? Respect is something that you have to give in order to get. We teach our children this lesson. Why is it lost on our so-called leaders?
Of course, they are equally hostile and dismissive of opinion at home.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

A Long Stretch

Almost a whole week has gone by without a posting, although I've had several things I wanted to write about.
It's just been a very busy week at work -- in contrast to several recently during which I've been able to do a lot of writing.
I spent most of my work week writing, which may help to explain why I had no energy for posting when work was done.
I'm going to try to get some writing done this weekend, but not yet.
Relaxing a little bit this Saturday morning, now that I have the bills paid.