An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Reagan wins a draw! Oops, I meant Palin

I remember the Reagan/Mondale debates of 1984. After Reagan tanked badly during the first one (eerily similar to Palin's word salad babble to Couric) everyone thought he was through. Then the talking heads speculated that if he could hold his own in the second debate then maybe he could still win the election. I thought he sounded pathetic and possibly suffering from some sort of progressive degenerative brain disease (he was -- Alzheimer's). But before the second debate someone stole Mondale's briefing book (which turned up in the Reagan camp's hands). Reagan held up better in the second debate, not great, but at least he didn't grind down into a long garbled run-on sentence as he did in the first debate.

What do you think the headline was the next day? "Reagan wins a Draw!" (How does one "win" a draw? Oh, nevermind).

Already the talking heads are going on about how great Palin did because she could make subjects and verbs agree and speak in more-or-less clear sentences. Somehow this proves she's a viable candidate and is supposed to erase from our memories the word salad and the inability to name a newspaper or to describe a single example of McCain's "Maverick-ness" or, oh, nevermind. This is all sadly predictable. Has nothing changed in 24 years? Oh, and the media is run by a bunch of liberals. Right.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Habeas Corpus

Although I probably recall reading about the vote in question two years ago when it happened, Greenwald's summary of this (pasted below) gave me my first LOL of the day.

The paragraph below comes from Glenn Greenwald's blog entry about the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding Habeas Corpus :

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 was -- and remains -- one of the great stains on our national political character. It was passed by a substantial majority in the Senate (65-34) with the support of every single Senate Republican (except Chafee) and 12 Senate Democrats. No filibuster was even attempted. It passed by a similar margin in the House, where 34 Democrats joined 219 Republicans to enact it. One of the most extraordinary quotes of the post-9/11 era came from GOP Sen. Arlen Specter, who said at the time that that the Military Commissions Act -- because it explicitly barred federal courts from hearing habeas corpus petitions brought by Guantanamo detainees -- "sets back basic rights by some 900 years" and was "patently unconstitutional on its face" -- and Specter then proceeded to vote for it.

Is Specter the devil? "It's bad. It's evil. It's wrong. I LIKE it!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What Children do matters


When the topic of diversity in the workplace comes up, I often mention that I do not think my own profession has the best record. That prize goes to truck drivers. I worked (very briefly) in a number of different low-skilled jobs when I was younger. One of them had me on a loading dock for the summer of 1979. I met numerous truck drivers then. I have met others now and then since. I have never encountered a more diverse profession. Anyone, all colors, all religions, from a Ph.D. to a 3rd grade drop-out, can be found behind the wheel of a big-rig. The Queen of England was once a truck driver. I'm not kidding.

During World War II the royal family considered it their duty to set an example. The war posed a threat to all of Great Britain. All of Great Britain would serve, somehow, someway. Any member of the royal family who came of age during the war joined the military. At that time the English Army had a female branch called the WTA -- The Women's Transport Auxiliary. Then Princess Elizabeth joined in 1944. She learned how to drive and repair trucks and drove a truck carrying military supplies throughout southern England. The male royals served in combat roles. Looking at this example, one wonders about the ethos of those in power who advocate most strongly for war.

In particular, consider John McCain and Hilary Clinton. I understand and accept that one can not order one's grown children into the service. During World War II King George VI had no authority to compel his daughter Elizabeth to join the WTA, nor any male family members to serve in combat. He did manage to instill in them the sense of duty and the sense that they could not hold themselves "above" serving Great Britain. I would put to you that any candidate for President, or any member of Congress, who has voted to authorize or has supported the Iraq War but who can not convince his or her own grown children of the importance of the war, fails to show the leadership needed to remain in elective office. If you can not even convince your own kids of the importance of the continued U.S. presence in Iraq, what do you expect the rest of us to think? If your own military age offspring do not see the war as a crisis requiring sacrifice for a greater good, why should anyone else?

Just as a side note, I omit Barack Obama because he has not supported the war. Although he did not come to the Senate until after the War began, he repudiated the rush to war at the time (and the people of Illinois elected him anyway - think about it) and has opposed the war since.

Also, I realize this is a side-note to the election campaign. I would not change my position on the war (against) even if all the sons and daughters of all the candidates and all the members of Congress who voted for this mess joined up. I am only pointing out an elitism, an arrogance of privilege, to which even the British royal family did not sink. (And do not even mention President Bush's daughters, nieces and nephews. Arrogance and privilege along with a sense of entitlement sum up all they have to offer. And one or more of them will run for office some day). Does no one else notice this?