Dispatches from Boulder the Damned
Monday, September 06, 2004
Brazil shows us the way! Sorta.
In a move the Bush administration is sure to envy, politicians in Portuguese speaking Brazil are trying to get a regulatory body together to control journalists. To quote the New York Times: Under the legislation, the council would be empowered to "orient, discipline and monitor" journalists, who would be obliged to register with the body, and their work. Penalties for violations of the council's rules or rulings would range from fines to revocation of a reporter's official registration, which in theory would prevent the offender from working in the profession. Hardly anything evil could come of that, eh?
The problem here is that the Media has had social climbing tendencies. It wanted to be, not only in Brazil and in the United States, a 'profession,' that its practitioners would receive adulation and respect by announcement of their presence. That word has had its meaning distorted through the years. The word means that a guild of workers professes to be of a certain quality of competence, and professes this to both the public and to the state, which verifies its claims. Hence, doctors, lawyers, architects can be assumed, if licensed, to have abilities of a certain level.
But journalists in the United States, and those to be like the United States, have a major problem. Being approved or licensed by the state is a violation of the First Amendment, wherein there shall be no law regulating the freedom of the press. This guarantees the Daily Enquirer but it also gives us The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and The Weekly Standard.
The carrot here is that the supporters of Brazil's new regulatory entity refer to it as if it were a Labor committee, just something to keep people in line. But it isn't. It's clearly designed to prevent investigations into corruption and government malfeasance. Beware: it's coming here in one form or another. Despite Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal, there are those not satisfied that self censoring by a fat and happy media will save the day for authoritarianism.
Just when you think the Miss America Pageant has reached ludicrous lows of unimportance difficult to imagine, they surprise you. Now, in an organization not familiar with the term 'metaphor alert', the contestants for the meaningless honor were gussied up in 1950's outfits and photographed. And boy, do those young women look happy, what?
In Kansas City, six dead women have been found in an 18 block area since Thursday. In a quote of understatement or perhaps callous stupidity, police said: "The neighbors in that area, they have reasons to be concerned, ....but I don't think it's something to cause great panic. They just need to be vigilant." You think? Really? And do you also think these dead people are, you know, black? And that the officers are white? Seriously, I'm trying to get a fix on this. Just how callous, cruel, and stupid are these guys, anyway?
This isn't all that far from Wichita, is it? Why no, not that far.
In a nephew's hometown of Jackson, Wyoming, a grizzly bear took on bicyclists and dogs and pepper spray. Somehow, it doesn't sound like a grizzly, based entirely on zero personal experience myself but many comics and television shows. A black bear, maybe, but a grizzly? A mystery, surely. If I were attacked by a diminutive bear cub of any sort weighing five pounds, I'd vacate and be in Santa Fe on foot within the hour, so I'm casting no aspersions, but all bears must seem like grizzlies when they're after you.
In Europe, bears are proving cranky as well. Wonder what form the 'solution' will take? Hm. Would it involve - Oh, I don't know - guns? Thirty bears wandering the village would tend to make anyone somewhat upset, though. Not like it's a recent development of Wood Bros.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
In the depths of Democratic paranoia, which I periodically share, there was, some months ago, the theory that Osama bin Laden had been bottled up and would be melodramatically caught/killed in the weeks before the election to put Bush over the top. Given the inexplicable bump Bush got among people who didn't actually listen to the GOP conventioneers, and Kerry's inability to come out and clock Bush the Sitting Duck, the fear is fact based. Kerry is not doing well at the moment.
But now, indications are that the GOP October Surprise Machine, initiated by Reagan's duplicity in getting the hostages released after Carter's ouster, are back on track. GOP functionaries are now saying that bin Laden indeed will be caught within the next two months. This, though, because 'the framework is in place' and the Pakistanis are cooperating. I can only hope that if there is any evidence that this purported capture was in any way delayed for political benefit, that the correct conclusions are drawn. Unlikely.
Still, bin Laden's capture would be gratifying, because there would have to be a trial. His proved death would simply be a coup.
On this date, in 1972, the Munich Olympics hosted Palestinian atrocities against Israeli athletes. Nothing since has improved the world's image of the Palestinians, which they still don't understand.
Three years later, Manson moron Squeaky Fromme tried to assassinate Gerald Ford with an empty gun she forgot to properly cycle.
Fifteen years later, brain trust LAPD chief Daryl Gates, in his testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, said "Casual drug users should be taken out and shot." Given the vast majority of current and former casual 'drug' users, especially in LA, a warning light ought to have gone off about the future relationship of the LA police to its community. Didn't. Rodney King: destiny awaits.
Hurricane Frances, while horrible for those in Florida, was over hyped. Open question if winds of 100 knots sustained for five hours is worse or not than winds of 180 knots for two, but due to the corrupt building industry in Florida the state is probably rubble by tonight. At some point, people are going to require better practices that would allow often expensive buildings to survive these predictable storms. Pretty stupid we do not, do not enforce existing law, allow the same people to profit from the rebuilding all the time.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Sadism is its own reward.
Children? That's for heroic freedom fighters, struggling to return the world to 1380 with themselves at the apex. Today, we now learn that 350 people, only 100 of whom were arguably adult, were killed in the latest example of Islamic idiocy, this time in Russia. "Fathers will bury their children, and after 40 days (the Orthodox Christian mourning period) ... they will take up weapons and seek revenge," said Alan Kargiyev, a 20-year-old university student in the regional capital Vladikavkaz. Oh, yeah, this will work out well....
A Marine convicted of prisoner abuse got off easy, they say, with sixty days hard labor and demotion to private. But he got to stay in the Corps. The man is a prison guard in civilian - if that's the word - life. Having been in the American Tortugas, beaten daily and cursing life as I lived on the diet of scorpions and mold, I know what it's like to be in the U. S. penal system, and the sadists that run it......
No, I don't. I spent four months in jail and two years in a half way house and four more on probation. It wasn't easy, and I hated it, but it was nothing, really. Boredom was the biggest issue.
But I did see what giving life and death power over people does to those who wield it. It isn't pretty in general and it isn't healthy to either party. Law and Order types make big deals about the minds of 'evil doers' and feel much better dividing the world between 'us' and 'them'. Once you see how minimum wage employees in half way houses work over time, or sheriff's guards with their peep holes in showers and women's holding cells, you'll be less likely to be able to differentiate, and at some point you become willingly complicit in what surely, without question, with mathematical certainty will eventually happen.
A problem you don't have in Russia, today. Over 200 people, mostly children and their parents and teachers, were killed by the sick, cruel, and sadistically stupid Islamic militants who tried to hold the children as hostages to get their peers out of jail for Chechnyan violence. Really, the way to score points in the world is to take children as hostages and kill them. Works every time. Actually, now that I think of it, has it ever 'worked?' Even if at the initial incident governments crumble and give in, doesn't it only fan the flames for revenge? And so it goes on......
But by any case, this was sheer sadism, cruelty for its own reward. Keeping children in terror and discomfort and dehydration with 18 bombs over their heads, boy that makes you want to convert to Islam right now, doesn't it? And the general silence from the centers of Islam is encouraging, isn't it? And sure, people who'd do this sort of thing really deserve their own country, don't they? I mean, look at the high standards they'd impose.......
This isn't to say Russia isn't and hasn't been a thug to them. Or that, in the dim past, they had and have a point. But they've blown it now, as surely as the Palestinians lost all warmth from the world in general at the Munich Olympics, as surely as America has at Abu Grahib. We have the power and the resources to do good and we will again, but these guys? I doubt they have the will. All they know, all they understand is revenge, and honor, and a thousand different slights on their manhood, all self inflicted but blamed on others.
Like Islam everywhere outside the West and in some places in the West, it is a dying patriarchal and feudal mindset that cannot deal with the world as it is heading, cannot provide for its own people, cannot offer anything but violence to philisophical discourse. This from the religion that was once the light of the world.
A young mother strokes the brow of her dead child in one of these photos. She is alone, not reacting or acting out as others are doing around her. She looks calm and composed. In shock. Somewhat confused, perhaps thinking the child will awake. Son of a bitch, the people who did this, to no end, to no purpose that could be called constructive. Sadism for its own sake.
One man wears a Tshirt with the US flag. That's the sort of thing people used to do more of, because they knew we brought out the best in ourselves and others. We're losing that. Without that, we're them.
For example, on this day in 1991, 25 workers were killed when a fire destroyed the Imperial Foods food processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina. Most of the victims -- predominantly single mothers -- died of smoke inhalation because the rear exit had been padlocked by management to prevent employee theft. The Imperial plant had never once in its 11-year history been inspected by the state. The owner, Emmet Roe, later received 19 years in prison for the 25 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Rather than install a camera or suffer the theft or, you know, pay a reasonable wage. And somehow, I can't help but wonder if Mr. Roe ever availed himself of these women.....
Get poor, desperate people, pay them shit, tempt them beyond ken to steal, then lock them in, see what happens. Sadism. Cruelty. Not much different from prison guard mentality, a set of stupid criteria that produces tension which could be alleviated by some decency.
Of course, the same can be said about our abuses in the Iraqi prison initially made famous by Saddam. But now, on top of all else, it turns out that Navy SEALs beat that prisoner to death who was photographed on ice, apparently assisting the typists and traffic cops who somehow ended up taking care of people they hated and who, clearly, scared them. Having inappropriately trained people act as interrogators and prolonged guards is just really stupid. And dangerous, for everyone.
The Washington Post follows up on the FBI probe into charges that current and former employees at the Pentagon and in Dick Cheney's office passed classified information on Iran to Ahmed Chalabi and Israel. But now the names are Neocon Nebula: Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle. This, it is superfluous to note, is treason. It is superfluous, isn't it?
In 1976, George W. Bush on this day was arrested in Maine for drunk driving, making him the equal of Dick Cheney, who had several drunk driving tickets in the early sixties in Wyoming. Hardly anyone got arrested back then for drunk driving, so these guys must really have been off the wall to attract attention.
Friday, September 03, 2004
Thirty-three years ago, I find it hard to believe, the Nixon White House had the office of a psychiatrist burglarized in order to get the records of Daniel Ellsberg, who had provided the Pentagon Papers to the press. During the Watergate investigation, a memo talking about this act, but predating it, was found in the records of John Erlichman, Nixon's advisor. Conclusive proof, again, that this was a criminal White House.
Three years previous to that, Ho Chi Minh had died. Despite his alleged wishes for cremation and ash distribution over selected hills, he was preserved like Lenin. Revolting habit.
Ah, yes, the convention. Bush spoke well, if all surreal utterances. His first term an utter failure, he campaigns as if he hadn't been president for the last four years, as if someone else were at fault. His failures are obvious and up front: he bought his way into the war and kept our standard of living high by billing his own grandchildren who, if the tax cuts stay, will pass it on to others if the great unwashed don't wake up and note the crime.
His successes are all smoke and mirrors. The nation is not safer today than four years ago, although I cannot say it's any worse. We are not winning the war - there's been no peace to win - in Iraq.
It's terribly discouraging to see many of my countryfolk falling for this solely because he puffs them up beyond reason or fact. All the sacrifice and turmoil Bush talks about never occured outside of New York and Washington; I don't feel any different in my daily life during Bush's war than I did during Clinton's in Bosnia. It doesn't affect us because the fiscal hurts were, in Clinton's case, paid for by the economy and in Bush's case by a U-0-us-now mentality.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
Man, just when you think the CU Regents cannot get any more bizarre. Or that the CU scandal cannot get any more humiliating for the University and those involved. It does.
When last we left them, the Regents had been called into special session by retiring Regent Jim Martin to react to the Grand Jury report that excoriates the Board. So, yesterday, five of the nine - Regents Steinhauer, Rutledge, Hayes, Lucero, and Schauer - met with four attorneys, one from CU, two from an internal investigation, and one former Senate candidate Tom Strickland in Denver. Regent Schwartz joined them by phone. Six.
Regent Kirk, from Aspen, did not participate, for reasons unknown. Seven.
Regent Carlisle has been recused since nearly the beginning because her husband is the primary attorney representing the first woman to sue the University under federal law in the current scandal. Although this case involves many of the issues on which she campaigned, she is self-muzzled and furious and unable to participate. A unique situation not foreseen by either half of that marriage, safe to say. Eight. Let's see....
And Regent Martin, the grandstanding publicity hound who called the meeting, didn't attend either. In fact, he's hired his own attorney. Curious. He then is quoted as saying he'd face criminal charges if he discussed the report, and that he'd been put under a gag order. True of anyone, one learns. But hadn't Martin already talked about the report when he called the meeting and announced his decision?
So.....isn't Martin an attorney? One who bragged about his class ranking at DU at one point? Did Martin do something wrong in violation of how Grand Jury reports are to be handled?
Anyone mentioned in the Grand Jury report has ten days to respond before the report is made public. Yet someone made certain aspects of the report - the slam against the Regents - public. Apparently against the law. Was it Martin? He surely was first off the mark to respond to the alleged slam. In the press anyway.
Unsaid, in all this, is the fact that it doesn't look good for those who've covered the CU football 'program' purporting to be journalists protected by the first amendment. They've been clearly revealed to be flacks for a program so corrupt and unpleasant in many aspects that two state-level investigating bodies have barely been able to keep moisture in their spleens writing up final reports. How is it possible that long before the suits were filed that 'professional' journalists were unable to see or be so uninterested in the recruiting practices and social events that must have been the talk of the community? How come, huh?
Meanwhile, in Gotham, Laura Bush gave chilling testimony that her husband was a great war leader. This would be like Rumsfeld testifying to Bush's cooking skills. I've never understood how this clear botox babe with the very strange left eye became much of an authority on anything. Her children, like her husband, are drunks, although they're still wet while hubby is a dry drunk, still having all the humors and affectations of the alcoholic.
Ah-nold gave a speech that was as replete with falsehood as Guiliani's the day before, and even provides an alternative version of how he became a Republican. This one much more specific and involving watching a debate between Nixon and Humphrey. Ah-nold looks terrible: puffy, pasty, botoxed, and with a smile to scare anyone attuned to sincerity. He still has the habit of not understanding his own movies, but is assured his GOP audience doesn't either. Although he represents the Hollywood violence and degradation of society that the GOP supposedly hates (No, wait. Pointless violence okay, bared breasts, not....), Ah-nold is now riding a glorious wave of love in California despite having done exactly what he damned Gray Davis for doing: borrowing to offset the debt largely acquired by Enron and Friends' scam of a few years back, companies owned in the main by many of the people there on the Convention Floor.
Nauseating, but one good thing. A very conservative GOP congressman from Virginia who has made a campaign out of both banning marriage between gays and getting rid of the Clintonian Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in the military was outed as gay himself by the rather damning and convincing recording of him trying to hire a gay hooker by phone. This was the work of one Michael Rogers, who I guess is gay and who has decided to out hypocritical gays who posture as rightwingers for votes and secretly live another life.
Under most circumstances, this is vile muck raking. But if someone, say, who has postured as a Family Man and god fearing is revealed to have had several mistresses, that dissonance ought not to be tolerated. Cannot blame Regers for putting it to Congressman Edward Schrock, whose hypocrisy is simply too revolting to be tolerated. Listen to the recording of his phone call. Compassionate Conservative indeed.
Anyway, the GOP has three days to get another name on the ballot. Is Richard Simmons a Republican? Where does he live?
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Whitest. Convention. Ever. From Wonkette, still my favorite overall web read next to Slate.
I was nauseated by the outright lies of Rudi Guiliani last night. Lower than a Swift Boat slanderer in his false composite of Kerry. The GOP must be very scared, which is good, but I'm nervous as well that they'll find enough middle aged and overweight white people to be terrified of a world of foreigners, which seems to be the ticket. Not just Arabs, or Arabs who hate Americans, but worse, like French people.
John McCain says he's sick to death of the Vietnam War. Okay. He can say it whether he means to or not. But how he can support Dubya after the slander McCain took in the 2000 election is beyond me.
In any case, Dubya, only twenty four hours after saying the war on terror may never be won, says that of course we'll win the war on terror to an audience of veterans. This ludicrous flip-flop - far more so than Kerry's reversals - is causing the usual consternation. The GOP has now proof positive that Bush is merely the creature of Rove, and it is to be doubted that Bush will allow himself to be interviewed again by Matt Lauer or anyone in a 'live' context. Really annoying.
Oh, good column.
The University of Colorado Regents were scoured by the Grand Jury investigating its football/sex scandal, says the Rocky Mt. News, as unfit to oversee football at the University. Of course, nobody has seen the report, least of all the Regents, and grandstanding Jim Martin called them into executive session later today to respond to a report they have not seen. Of course - good point - the University legal team has seen it, just not shared it with the people who, you know, run the entire University System. Their alleged clients, although interestingly enough lawyers are now described as representing President Betsy Hoffman rather than the University.
Not only have the Regents not seen the report, but they don't directly oversee football. It's like saying the Regents aren't fit to oversee intramural tennis or period five biology. If they're not fit for that, they're not fit for their job, and that may be the case. The only Regent who gets a temporary bye is Cindy Carlisle, who by circumstance had to recuse herself from any of the votes regarding the football issue because her husband, Baine Kerr, is representing Lisa Simpson, the first young lady to bring charges regarding rape and culture of rape. Thus far, the Jury seems to be supporting that theory IF the Rocky Mt. News is correct.
Who leaked all this to the News, and why? Why the News, first off, rather than the Post or the Camera? And why at all? Perhaps the hope is that this hideous embarrassment would be lost in GOP election coverage with Iraq and Olympic residue. If so, they were wrong.
Amusing was Regent Tom Lucero's complaint that the Grand Jury hadn't actually questioned any Regent, so, you know, what are they talking about? Lucero seems to forget (or really, really wants to forget....) that the Regents actions in public and their own quotes to the press are the most damning thing imaginable. Their actions after the University's own committee issued a report humiliating in its scope is instructive. Except for Jim Martin they asked not one question and seemed to think the procedure was the point, and that it was back to football, football, football! Wrong, wrong, wrong.
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