alexpgp: (Schizo)
On my friends list this morning I read speculation that Sarah Palin's political aspirations died yesterday in Arizona, a result of "putting cross-hairs over Gifford." On the one hand, this kind of thinking really surprises me.

Advancing the idea of there being some kind of discernible link between the kind of violence that occurred yesterday and anything politicians say (whether they refer to "Second Amendment remedies" or go around saying "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun") sounds like an awful reach to me to start with. Moving beyond that reach to link talk of placing a political opponent "in the crosshairs" with actual violence against that opponent seems to me akin to linking the appearance of comets in the night sky to ensuing crop failure.

Both political parties have, in the past, routinely used words such as "targeting" accompanied by graphics with bull's-eyes in referring to political opponents. Both. The media also routinely uses military terms when reporting on politics, sports, and so on. Compared with graphic television violence, to which most of the nation is exposed every day, I would be surprised if such rhetoric barely registers.

On the other hand, the speculation about Palin's aspirations isn't very surprising. It should be obvious to anyone with any sense that Palin is the "main enemy" of the talking heads on television news. Hell, if Palin were to do something as inconsequential as win a two-person foot race, the media would loudly report that she came in "next to last."

It will be interesting to see how this all progresses, because in my experience, I've found people tend to not like bullies, which is the role the media appears to be playing in its ongoing treatment of Palin. By their vituperation, they may just be swinging undecideds in Palin's direction.

alexpgp: (Default)
A couple of days ago, I flippantly suggested that the House might, in its apparent rush to pass wide-sweeping cap and trade legislation (still not finalized 48 hours before the scheduled vote), consider passing laws that haven't actually been written yet.

It turns out my suggestion might actually have been heeded (though most certainly inadvertently).

It would appear that TPTB on the Rules Committee added a 300-page amendment to the 1200-plus-page bill at 3 am on Friday, filled with descriptions of changes to the bill (e.g., on page so-and-so, starting on line such-and-such, strike the paragraph that starts blah-blah-blah).

Curiously, it would appear that, at the time of the vote, no "final" copy of the legislation actually existed. And thus, it would appear that nobody in the House actually knew what they were voting for (or against, for that matter). Said another way, Congresscritters knew even less about what the law is going to do, or not, than what they usually know when they vote on legislation.

(Except for the pork, naturally.)


P.S. Hilariously, a story at CNN still has the subhead: Lawmakers are set to debate a sweeping energy bill Friday. Ri-i-i-ight!
alexpgp: (Default)
Via boingboing, on a commentary by one Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker, to wit:
A few weeks before she was nominated for Vice-President, she told a visiting journalist—Philip Gourevitch, of this magazine—that “we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” Perhaps there is some meaningful distinction between spreading the wealth and sharing it (“collectively,” no less), but finding it would require the analytic skills of Karl the Marxist.
Semantically, there is not much of a difference between "spreading" wealth and "sharing" it. However, when one considers the source of the wealth, a small, yet significant distinction arises.

In the case of a state's natural resources, they are - since they are owned by the state - pretty much by definition owned collectively by the population of that state. Sharing or spreading monies derived from developing those resources among the population "distributes" the money and, if anything, is about as far as you can get from the socialist tradition, which would hold that the state ought to retain and use such revenue to expand the scope of its power benefit the people.

The source of the government's income tax revenue, on the other hand, is income. Instituting a change where some end up paying more and where a "refund" is given to a large number of others who currently don't pay anything at all may be described using the same adjectives, but also constitutes a fairly significant "redistribution" of wealth, which is a word that nobody - at least nobody in the media - wants to use, at least not in the same paragraph as the word "Obama."

alexpgp: (Schizo)
From the Wired Blog Network:
The Motion Picture Association of America said  Friday intellectual-property holders should have the right to collect damages, perhaps as much as $150,000 per copyright violation, without having to prove infringement.
I bet you don't hear much about this on network news. But frankly, the MPAA and its ilk are pikers.

I'll wager you won't hear much, either, about the sweetheart deal that Congress is putting together for mortgage lenders, most certainly not in the context of how the Congressional leaders in charge of such dealmaking have been, in the past, recipients of "VIP treatment" and campaign contributions from said lenders. (Being Democrats helps in keeping the noise level down, it would seem, because if the Congresscritters leading this effort involved were Republican, I'm sure this item would lead the news morning, noon, and night.)

To add insult to insult, a provision has been included in the lender bailout, without debate, to require the nation's payment systems to track, aggregate, and report information on nearly every electronic transaction to the federal government. (Sounds logical, right? Bailing out mortgage lenders goes hand in hand with tracking every credit card purchase made in the country.)

This provision is intended to raise over $9 billion in revenue over 10 years. On the other hand, consider just how much more - and more complete - personal information will now be harvested by the government and how it can be used, sold, lost, etc.

Why is there no outcry about stuff like this?

alexpgp: (Default)
I am vaguely aware of dreaming about... tedium. Toward morning, I achieved a state of consciousness that allowed me to recall my dream and it turns out I was actually translating something in my sleep, but I cannot remember what.

Nor can I recall whether the translation was any good. 8^)

The PowerPoint presentation is done and going out the wire as I type this.

Strangely enough, faced with the prospect of completing all outstanding assignments within the next 30 hours or so, I am picking up the slight tingling sensation of - let's give it a tentative name - translator's paranoia (a mental state in which you wonder "Will I ever get another assignment?").

* * *
In other news, I'm discouraged at one of CNN's headlines this morning: Gender or race: Black women voters face tough choices in S.C. In my opinion, voting for someone based on their skin color or sex makes voting for someone based on their party affiliation sound positively intellectual. Then again, the headline doubtless reflects the way CNN thinks the world works (or should work).

Headlines like this appear to give some weight to recent wisecracks - stemming from the Nevada primaries, I think - about how, if you vote for Obama, you're a sexist, but if you vote for Hillary, you're a racist.

It must be something in the water.

alexpgp: (Schizo)
From the Associated Press:
Former President Carter says he won't visit Brandeis

BOSTON (AP) — Former President Carter has decided not to visit Brandeis University to talk about his new book "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid" because he does not want to debate Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz as the university had requested.

"I don't want to have a conversation even indirectly with Dershowitz," Carter told The Boston Globe. "There is no need ... for me to debate somebody who, in my opinion, knows nothing about the situation in Palestine."
Now, presumably, Brandeis is not run by a bunch of utter nincompoops, so it just doesn't seem likely that the university would choose someone to engage in dialog with Carter who is as utterly unqualified as Carter believes him to be. Then again, Carter may simply be miffed that he's not being afforded an opportunity to spout unopposed, the way many university speakers are.

The debate request is proof that many in the United States are unwilling to hear an alternative view on the nation's most taboo foreign policy issue, Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory, Carter said.
Well, the only way this could be true would be if Brandeis University knew in advance that Carter would refuse to appear if asked to debate Dershowitz. Also, the jump between "the university" and "many in the United States" escapes me, except as the kind of bluster you come to expect from a big-name has-been.

The way I see it, if someone wants to debate a certain viewpoint, it betrays a certain unmistakable willingness to hear an alternative view (though it assuredly indicates an a priori opposition to that view). To be debated, both viewpoints must be heard and questioned. In short, a dialogue is established.

Or am I nuts?

Next in the report:
Carter, who brokered the 1978 Camp David peace accord between Israel and Egypt and who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, has said the goal of his book is to provoke dialogue and action.

"There is no debate in America about anything that would be critical of Israel," he said.
Could it be that Carter's idea of "dialogue" is for you to listen and nod your head while he talks? I'm not sure.

The quote might be arguable if Carter wasn't able to find a publisher for his book or anyone willing to debate its contents, but in fact the exact opposite is true: the book was published and someone wants to debate. (Or, I wonder, must the debater actually agree with Carter in the first place?)

Is there a reason nobody in the media seems to want to point out Carter's obvious dementia on this point (among others), or is it simply a distaste for shooting fish in a barrel?



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