24 September 2003

The Latest White House Lie

On Meet the Press Vice President Dick Cheney said the following:
Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interests. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now, for over three years.

Cheney has been receiving 150K-200K per year since he left Halliburton, and such payments are slated to continue until 2005.

23 September 2003

101 Errors in Ann Coulter's Treason

Actually, there's probably at least 1,001 errors in her latest diatribe - Spinsanity, has chronicled numerous guffaws and legitimate historians have lambasted her attempt at painting Senator McCarthy in a favorable light.

But this article by Jeff Kisseloff is focused on Coulter's text regarding Alger Hiss. Mr. Kisseloff, who was the managing editor of The Alger Hiss Story, chronicles and enumerates her many errors:

With so many errors and misstatements, Ann Coulter's "Treason" cannot be taken as an accurate presentation or analysis of the Hiss case.

22 September 2003

Ex Wall Street Journal Reporter Tells Homeless Tale

Former Wall Street Journal reporter Les Gapay describes his experiences with homelessness in a USA Today business section feature.

A chilling reminder that economic devastation can visit even the most successful.

16 September 2003

Bush Appoints Known Perjurer L. Jean Lewis to Pentagon Inspector Chief of Staff

Given all the crooks and felons the Bush administration has appointed, the hiring of extreme partisan L. Jean Lewis should not surprise a soul. Writer David Neiwert believes this "has the potential to be a devastating scandal" for the Bush administration.

Considering L. Jean Lewis' record in the Resolution Trust Corporation -- where she ran a T-shirt marketing scheme out of her office; secretly (and illegally) tape-recorded a fellow RTC employee; improperly disclosed confidential documents; and kept confidential documents in her home, all of which are likely violations of federal and state laws -- as well as her clearly perjurous testimony before Congress , there should be no question about whether Lewis should even be allowed near this staff.

Some of the more colorful instances of her lying before Congress were her claims that the tape recorder "turned itself on" and that her use of the word "BITCH" on the T-shirts she sold (with the subscript, "Bubba, I'm Taking Charge, Hillary") were "in no way intended to denigrate the First Lady". But the most serious instances of unmistakable perjury were her assertions that she had not made any pre-election attempts to pressure the FBI and U.S. Attorney about her shabby criminal referrals for the Clintons in the Whitewater matter, which were directly contradicted by testimony from the FBI (who had documented the contacts, of course) and several other law-enforcement officials.

It should be clear that any normative candidates for top staffing positions at any Inspector General's office should be persons with spotless records and unquestionable reputations for professionalism, ethical behavior and personal integrity. That someone like L. Jean Lewis even made it past the door raises serious questions about just what standards were used. This goes well beyond mere cronyism.

Joe Conason, author of The Hunting of the President chimes in on the matter in his weblog.

Japan and Korea Lead World in Broadband

The United States, birthplace of the Internet, ranks 11th while South Korea is first. Japan, although 10th on the chart, is expected to rise rapidly as their high speed internet connections are now both the fastest and cheapest.

Is the price (average of $53 per month in the U.S.) the reason why Americans arn't switching over to high speed internet? I think $53 per month is a little more than people are willing to spend. Myself, I believe it to be a bargain, but then again, I am one of those computer geek types...

13 September 2003

Road Warrior

This humble spot in the net galaxy has been silent for a few days as I adapt to a new job that requires airport hopping and hotel living. It's been some years since I had to do the travel thing and my first foray back into the jet setter realm did not go smoothly at all.

First, this internet thing indeed has transformed travel planning into an easier experience, or at least a more convenient one. Click, click, click and presto, a complete travel itinerary is conjured up. However, one must be cautious as I booked my first trip on Yahoo! Travel, and was unfortunately unaware that Southwest Airlines is not included in the generated lists of available airline flights. So I settled for a stopover flight on another airline.

On the departure trip, my connecting flight was delayed a couple hours, all due to some sort of mechanical failure with a backup generator on the plane. When I finally arrived at my destination, the rental car company I booked a reservation with was closed. Luckily, one of their competitors was still open and had a car I could rent. Then I made my next error. Instead of meticulously studying a map, or perhaps sketching out a route using the aforementioned wonderful internet travel tools, I obediently followed the simple scribbled directions on the back of a discarded receipt. Which got me completely lost in a strange city at a very late hour. I did finally find my way to my lodging selection, but many hours after my scheduled check in time.

The return trip was just as rocky. On Friday, at 3:45 pm, we made a big breakthrough on the project I'm working on, and became engaged in pursuit of accomplishment. But I had a plane to catch. And it was difficult to abruptly disengage to head homeward. So I started my journey back a little later than anticipated but still I alloted enough spare time to accomodate such happenstances. Then I got stuck behind a traffic accident on a busy Friday rush hour. I circled the complete perimeter of the airport, somehow missing the entrance to where the general public enters and exits. Instead, I was scrambling to get out of private airfields. I did make it on time, though. Catching my connecting flight was a close call, too, because the departure gate was on the opposite end of the arrival gate. I hustled to the gate and made it onboard, but after landing in Phoenix Sky Harbor, I discovered my luggage did not. Yoy!
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6 September 2003

Michael Moore critic is straining at gnats while swallowing camels

Michael Moore has taken heat for what is alleged to be pliable liberties with the facts in his Bowling for Columbine documentary. Along side of Forbes Magazine, Spinsanity, the self proclaimed "watchdog of manipulative political rhetoric" has called out Moore for distortions and inaccuracies. But, as Sheldon Rampton writes in this PR Watch forum post, Moore's detractors appear to be just as sloppy with the facts, and seem to share a vendetta against the popular muckraker.
Moore is sometimes sloppy with his facts, but one of the guys at Spinsanity (Ben Fritz) seems to have a vendetta against him and has been sloppy with his own facts. For example, Fritz wrote an entire column attacking "Bowling in Columbine," based solely on an attack on the film published in Forbes magazine. It criticizes the opening scene in "Bowling for Columbine," which shows Moore opening a bank account at a bank that offers customers a free rifle as a reward for making a deposit. (I think the amount of the deposit has to be $1,000 or something in that range.) According to Forbes (and Fritz, cribbing Forbes), this scene was "staged" because other customers have to wait a week or two between making their deposit and receiving their guns. The fact is, though, that the people who gave Moore his gun were real bank employees, who knew they were being filmed and who handed him the rifle on the same day he opened the account. Moreover, no one disputes that the bank offers guns as an incentive reward to its depositors. It's pretty nitpicky to call Moore a "liar" and accuse him of "staging" things simply because of the timing of when they gave him the gun.

In a similar vein, Forbes/Fritz accuse Moore of falsifying things by claiming that the two killers at Columbine went bowling in the morning before they went on their killing spree. Here, they're the ones who are misrepresenting things. The killers were enrolled in a bowling class, and some people think they saw them bowling that morning. Moore mentions this in the course of debunking some of the scapegoating that went on immediately following the massacre, when right-wing pundits argued that rock musicians like Marilyn Manson were somehow responsible for inciting their killing spree. Moore's point is that these pundits arbitrarily singled out their music habits for blame and that lots of people listen to Marilyn Manson without going on killing sprees. Since the two killers seemed to like bowling as much as they liked Manson's music, Moore argues that it makes as much sense to blame the bowling as it does to blame Manson. But Moore doesn't claim that bowling is what caused the massacre, and he doesn't even claim that the killers went bowling that morning. He merely says that some people thought they saw the two boys bowling that morning - which is true.

Fritz's criticism regarding the Willie Horton ad is equally nitpicky. The Willie Horton ad was one of the most disgraceful moments in the first Bush's presidential campaign against Michael Dukakis. No one seriously disputes that it was used deliberately for the purpose of scaremongering and race-baiting. Lee Atwater, who ran Bush's presidential campaign, later died of a brain tumor and was so ashamed of the Willie Horton ad that he apologized for it on his death bed.

While not a fan of Moore's ineptly contrived literay forays, his films (and ill fated TV programs) have always captured my attention. His confrontational manner of challenging corporate and government executives provides for entertaining cinema, and thrusts a magnifying glass over subjects that influential powers would rather not address. Kind of like how people don't wish to see the ranks of the afflicted, preferring to comfortably evade the presence of misfortune and injustice, clinging instead to a manufactured reality where all the pegs are lined up perfectly.
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4 September 2003

Do you think there's any correlation between the heat, the lack of clothing and increased teen sex?

KTAR David Leibowitz poses an interesting question in response to this "amazing factoid":
"The four worst states in America when it comes to kids having kids?

"Florida, Arizona, California and Nevada.

"You'll note that each of these places is hot, with plenty of teenage girls flouncing about in nothing more than Daisy Dukes and strategically placed duct tape.

"Where are teenagers least likely to get pregnant?

"North Dakota, Minnesota and New Hampshire - places full of sleet, tundra and clothing stores called Contempo Virgins."

Is this validation for fundamentalist Islamists who codify strict dress code restrictions for women venturing outside of the home? Um, only if you shove aside the belief of freedom to embrace a safer world. And as we should all know by now, a safer world can be much more barbaric and oppressive. A lesson the adherents of tighter restrictions, loosening of privacy protections and watering down of civil rights should heed...

2 September 2003

Defraud Californians of $9 billion, pay $1 million - such are the values of our time

Lawrence Lessig offers up an interesting parallel between the recent FERC settlement with energy companies for their illegal "energy market manipulation" in California and the draconian lawsuits pursued by the RIAA.
Let’s put this in some perspective.

Jesse Jordan (the RPI student who ran a search engine and was sued by the RIAA) was, the RIAA claims, liable for $15,000,000 in damages. When you add up the damages claimed against all four of these students (who again had built search engines ), the RIAA was asking, on some estimates, for $100 billion dollars. That’s because, under our law as interpreted by the RIAA, downloading one song makes you liable for $150,000. Or, on the RIAA’s view of the law, cheaper to defraud Californian’s of $9 billion than download 10 songs from a p2p server.

What an illustration of the power corporate giants hold over the interests of justice...

Who Killed Daniel Pearl?

Bernard-Henri Levy is the author of a new book that claims Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl was murdered not because he was Jewish, but because Pearl uncovered evidence that Al Qaeda is controlled by the Pakistani secret service and that radical Islamists have access to atomic weapons.
On a third level, “Who Killed Daniel Pearl?” is a demonstration piece, a deliberate embrace by a French intellectual of an American journalist, and a book that insists that the death of an American journalist (and one who worked for the Wall Street Journal , at that) was as important for France as for America. B.H.L.’s purely political, or forensic, conclusion is that it is naïve to speak of Al Qaeda as an independent terrorist organization. At most a band of Yemenis and Saudis, the Al Qaeda of American imagination and fears—the octopus of terrorism capable of bringing tall buildings down in a single morning—is largely controlled by the Pakistani secret service, he says, and he concludes that Pearl was kidnapped and murdered with its knowledge. Pearl was killed, B.H.L. believes, because he had come to understand too much about all of this, and particularly about “the great taboo”: that the Pakistani atomic bomb was built and is controlled by radical Islamists who intend to use it someday. (He writes that Sheikh Mubarak Gilani, the cleric whom Pearl had set out to interview when he was kidnapped, far from being a minor figure, is one of Osama bin Laden’s mentors and tutors and has a network in place in the United States. John Allen Muhammad, the Washington sniper, Lévy claims, in a detail that, if not unknown, is unpublicized in the United States, had transferred from the Nation of Islam to Gilani’s sect shortly before he began his killing spree.)