Saturday, April 28, 2007

Dems Debate and Iraq Quiz

Just as I was ready to publicly declare for Obama, I watched the Democratic candidates debate. While that Alaska dude was a real hoot, I can't imagine anyone giving him any real money after that performance. So I won't be expecting to see him again, except maybe as a "policy expert" on Fox.

But he was just a distraction.

The O-Man. What happened? Obama, my Obama! Ouch. It was painful to watch. What happened to the deep baritone? The quick smile? The eloquent, confident answers to where the country should go? None of these were in evidence up there on the big kid's stage. Hesitant, worried, uncertain. Not what I'm looking for.

Hillary really kicked some ass up there. She was certain of her answers. Her answers were meaty, substantial, and specific. She looked and sounded completely confident. And she gave the best answer to the "what if we get attacked" question. That chick's got some balls. I could vote for her.

Richardson, Dodd, Biden. They all seemed like smart, competent candidates. We could do a lot worse. Edwards was as dull as a bar of soap. That restaurant story was goofy.

Kucinich is the "troops home now" candidate. Everyone else wants them home, too. Just not right away.

Sorry - oversight. Gravel (the Alaska guy) also wants the troops home now, but I'm not sure whether to count him. I'd like to be sure his address isn't an assisted living facility before I lend him too much credence. He seems a bit wacky.

But back to Kucinich's point, which I think is the main issue of the election. Why wait? Hasn't everyone read Oh, The Places You'll Go!?

Harry Reid (not at the debate) was quoted as saying that the war was already lost. I am dumbfounded by this whole perspective. I thought we already won. Saddam is dead. There is a new regime. And Iraq has no WMD's. Checklist complete! Victory! Let's send the troops to Hooters to celebrate.

So, here's the quiz. Just post your answers in the comments section. Cheating is, of course, allowed.

World View Iraq War Quiz Number 1
  1. Who is the U.S. fighting in Iraq? (Must name actual people or groups. "Terrorists" is not acceptable.)
  2. If the U.S. wins in Iraq, how will we know?
  3. If the U.S. loses the war in Iraq, who wins?
  4. If the U.S. wins in Iraq, what do we get?
  5. If the U.S. loses in Iraq, what do we lose?
  6. Is Iraq an ally or enemy of the U.S?
  7. If the U.S. just stops fighting and goes home, is that the same as losing?

Thanks for participating.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Inadequate Response

I think I know why Sheryl Crow doesn't have a boyfriend.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jocks in Trouble

First Duke. Who knew Lacrosse was so big? Anyway, as a lawyer I think Nifong should go to prison for a long time for what he did. I don't buy into the "wall of silence" idea that we see in some professions. Cops, doctors, lawyers, soldiers. Too many think there is some kind of code that covering up for a bad guy is required if he's in your group. But they are not members of the group. They are criminals who have infiltrated the group, and should be taken out and shot like spies in wartime.

So it is with Nifong. I don't know if he is a criminal who became a lawyer, or a lawyer who became a criminal. But he's a criminal now, and he should do time.

On now to the University of Minnesota, where things are heating up. Three jocks. (The more traditional football type.) Sexual assault. One victim.

Everyone is walking on eggshells this time around.

Anyone stuck for a good term paper topic, here you go.

Post Script

After some mixed feedback on my Joe Francis post, a little clarification.

First, I think kids/young adults should enjoy that time of their lives to have fun, get drunk with their friends, skinny dip, hook up together, etc., before moving onto adult responsibilities. You only live once and God gave us a capacity for joy for a reason. So use it.

But there are always creepy individuals that we need to watch out for. They'll turn carefree fun into something dirty or humiliating. Joe Francis and his ilk remind me of a verse from an old Tom Petty/Mike Campbell song that Petty sang with Stevie Nicks.

There's people running 'round loose in the world
Ain't got nothing better to do
Than make a meal of some bright eyed kid
You need someone looking after you

That "someone" should be us grownups. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Joe Francis cries as he goes to jail

Joe Francis is the guy who started and owns the "Girls Gone Wild" business. He's off to jail. He cried in court. Boo-hoo. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

From what I've seen, Joe seems little more than a typical 20-something doofus who can't get a real girlfriend, and gets overexcited at the prospect of seeing a woman topless. But he is more than that. For one thing, he's 30-something. For another, he's a very successful porn entrepreneur who has figured out how to get his chicks for free. Apparently he gets very young women to appear in his videos for little more than a hat or T-shirt.

Then Joe sells the videos on tv. He has made millions. If you ever watch cable tv after 11:00 pm, you can't miss Joe's ubiquitious infomercials.

Joe and his gang go out and solicit young women on the street or at bars. These are not girls who have made a decision to seek out the chance to publicly appear nude or have lesbian sex for the camera. It's an impulse buy. Usually they are drunk. A lot of these young women are under 21 so this fact comes into play. The girls lift their tops, or shed all their clothes, or make out with each other, or hop into bed together.

There's something that smells evil about this particular business plan, and I don't like it.

What seems evil to me about it is this picture of an older adult tempting young people into degrading themselves. Here these young women, 18 or 19 years old, (younger in the Florida case) are induced into exposing themselves and more by the lure of being the center of attention, validation of their attractiveness, the promise of a little bit of fame, and the idea that getting a little crazy is what young people are supposed to do.

Of course it's all a bunch of bullshit. It's embarrassing to see these girls acting like airheaded bimbos yelling "Whoooo!" while they lift their tops. I wonder how that goes over at job interview time. Or at the family holiday dinner. Just wait until their 10th class reunion.

So these young women end up on videos being purchased by losers who sit around the tv set and masturbate to the images of these "girls gone wild."

See how cool it all is? Party! Whooooo!

But what is really wrong about it is the prospect of Joe Francis and his gang walking around the streets looking for young, gullible women to approach. It seems so predatory. Looking for youthful innocence to corrupt.

I know these girls are "women." But I think of them as our youth. Our American youth. And this is how we treat them. It's just bad.

Now the feds are onto Joe for tax fraud. Now that's entertainment!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Al G and the I-Man

The Attorney General of the United States testified to the United States Senate yesterday. That sounds pretty official and kind of pompous, but that's what was going on. I'm a small town lawyer, so I follow this stuff. Also, it's important.

So, some thoughts.

First of all, Alberto Gonzalez is the Attorney General of the United States. He works for us, the American people. His loyalty and is duty are to the United States, not to the President, not to the Administration, not to George W. Bush, and not to the Republican Party. I am starting to feel like a fool for believing this.

But I have hope. Arlen Specter, the Republican Senator from Pennsylvania. Boy, he ripped Al a new one, as we used to say in my Navy days. And a well deserved one at that. How did this knucklehead get to be the Attorney General of the United States? Senator Specter, hats off to you.

Specifically Sen. Specter was grilling Al on his attempt to tap dance around lying about how he fired (or compelled to resign) the 8 United States Attorneys (the Big Al 8.) Big Al claimed that he testified accurately before Congress, but "misspoke" at news conferences. In answer to the Senator, Al said that yes he did make sure he was prepared before appearing before Congress, but tried not to answer when pressed about whether he prepared before appearing at a news conference. In what sounded to my ear like a child whining , Al said, "I already said I misspoke."

If you're still reading, you may be thinking, "So what? What's the big deal?"

The big deal is this. Al lied directly to the American people. Directly. That's who he is talking to when he speaks at a news conference. Our Attorney General is speaking directly to us. And he lied.

But he's not under oath at a news conference. So it's not perjury, so it's not illegal. That makes it no big deal. See? He just "misspoke."

That's not how I see it. And that's not how Arlen Specter sees it.

By the way, Al has now apologized to the 8 fired U.S. Attorneys for falsely stating that their firings were for performance related issues. Huh.

The Attorney General is our lawyer. Lawyers have duties to their clients. Lawyers have ethical rules that they must follow. Legal ethics are not some pie in the sky, doing what you think is the right thing sort of conscience guidance. Legal ethics are written rules. And they are based on the concept of each individual lawyer having an independent duty to follow them. "I was just following orders" won't excuse unethical behavior by a lawyer.

Or at least it shouldn't.

United States Attorneys operate somewhat like independent prosecutors in their jurisdictions. They are very important positions. Al's defense to this whole scandal is that he didn't participate in the decision to fire them and didn't really know how they were selected or why they were fired. Yet he was the one who fired them.

So his defense is that he was not doing his job illegally because he was not doing his job at all.


The President supports him.


So what has this to do with the I-Man? When the I-Man "misspoke" he was fired. Twice. As far as I know the President did not offer any support.

But when the U.S. Attorney General "misspoke," also slandering people who didn't deserve it, he holds on. With Presidential support.

Is Alberto Gonzalez being held to a lower standard of professional behavior than Don Imus?

I'm glad we have people like Arlen Specter in our government. Somebody has to take reponsibility for rooting out corruption. Too bad our Attorney General isn't doing it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tragedy Anonymous

Yesterday 198 people were murdered and over 500 injured by terrorist bombs in Baghdad. 3 American soldiers also were killed.
I'm looking at all the news channels and I can't find out who killed these people or who the dead are.
The information coming out of the Virginia Tech murders is pretty comprehensive.
I'd like to see the same resources and results in reporting from Baghdad.
We (American people - voters) need more information.
I often get the impression from our own news organizations that if the dead people were not American then their deaths are not important, and certainly not newsworthy. Something's not right about that.
I thought we were trying to help these people. Maybe if we acted like we really cared about them, even just by paying attention, it would help us find the right path.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The I-Man Goeth

I will miss Don Imus. The I-Man added something unique to the airwaves. An intolerance for hypocrisy and a nose for bullshit, combined with intelligent rapport made for good public policy entertainment.

Man, "good public policy entertainment." That is one dorky oxymoron.

Moving on, the consensus among the blabberatti is that Imus had "gone too far." No kidding. Big surprise. Have these people never listed to his show? Imus went too far on a regular basis.

The consensus also seems to be that a fair amount of reform will come from firing Imus. Civility in public discourse will enjoy a renaissance. Well I hope so. But I'm not overly optimistic. People are already carving out self-serving distinctions to these newly rediscovered standards of civility to protect their favorite naughty boys and girls. For instance, it is OK to spout bigotry if you are clearly playing a fictional character, and not speaking in your own voice. For example, this safe harbor is offered to excuse the crudities of the comic Sarah Silverman, who only indulges in such incivilities when playing her character called . . . well . . . Sarah Silverman, on her show called, well, yes, The Sarah Silverman Show. Not the best example perhaps, but as Michael Richards said, "You know what I mean."

What makes this odd, or course, is that we sort of do know what she means. (Michael Richards I don't have a clue about.) Her real persona and her comic characters are intertwined, so that she can freely move in and out of different characters in real time, and we can more or less keep track. She's still offensive, but it's not really her, so it's OK. Get it?

So it is with the I-Man. He plays many characters, all called Don Imus. He is the self centered curmudgeon, blatantly abusing his media power to berate some outfit that gave him poor consumer service. He is the high powered political interviewer, who really seems to care about the issues and how they affect our country, and giving hell to those he suspects of hypocrisy or careerist sycophancy. He is the boorish clown, telling and laughing at his own bad jokes, often bigoted. He is the caring old grandpa figure, giving his all to help out sick kids. He rants. He raves. He's entertaining. But there is always a dark side to it.

Back at my ranch, I have a 7 year old who has taken to repeating jokes he hears on television. He likes jokes. For the most part what passes for humor on television is trash at best. Raw insult plus laugh track equals tv joke. Ha ha. So my adorable little boy comes excitedly to me with something he is sure will impress me. He knows a joke! It is a parent's small heartbreak to see the light in their child's eyes go dim as they realize they have disappointed you. So I try to explain that jokes that make fun of someone or hurt someone's feelings are not funny. That a lot of what is on tv is not really funny. He has begun to understand.

Insulting people is not funny. Don Rickles was never really funny. Imus was never funny when he did it. What Imus did, at his best, was to outrageously point out the various emperors of pomposity among us who really have no clothes. And then he was very funny.

But as good habits can save you, bad habits can do you in. Don's bad habits caught up with him and he is done gone. But did he have to go? Is his exile from the airwaves a just punishment? Should decent people never associate with the likes of him again?

Once, a very good friend of mine invited me to her home for a small party. A friend of her husband made a few bigoted remarks. (Ha ha.) I asked her about it later. She said that she and her husband had talked about it and decided that he was their friend and they would try to steer him away from his bigotry. We all have faults, she pointed out to me, and this was his. They would not accept it or go along, but they would not abandon him as a friend either. It made a lot of sense to me at the time.

Imus seems to me to be sincere in his contrition. To a large degree he seems to have "got it." He not only apologized, he gave a real apology. Not one of those "I regret if I offended anyone" fake apologies that are so readily available at Cowards R Us. He also promised to change both himself and his show. He did not claim a momentary lapse of judgment, or that it was just "three little words." (See Iraq War.) He promised to clean up the general behavior and tenor of the humor on his show. In my opinion his remorse was sincere and his contrition was earnest.

Given this, I am appalled at the behavior of the two reverends Sharpton and Jackson. I did not detect any indicia of Christian compassion in either of them. I'm no reverend, but I am a Christian, and my understanding of my faith is that forgiveness is fundamental to reconciliation with God. A Christian leader's job is to help us find the path. Did Reverend Sharpton offer Don Imus a path from confession and contrition to penance and redemption? I didn't see it. What I saw looked like naked opportunism and pandering to the crowd.

I think that an opportunity has been lost here. Imus wants to be a good person, and is willing to change to do it. Watching this change occur in the public eye would, I think, have done us much more good than a momentary flush of self-satisfaction at having pooh-poohed the bad man. We could have lighted a candle here. Instead we have merely cursed the darkness.