Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Another reason to live in West Hollywood

Sunday, July 18th, 2004

A West Hollywood city ordinance overrides any no-pet clause in your apartment lease if you have HIV/AIDS.

How George Tenet should have resigned

Saturday, June 5th, 2004

Americans make fun of Japanese for the way their politicians and corporate executives resign to “take responsibility” at the slightest provocation, with all the grim faces and bowing at the inevitable press conference.

Then we have George Tenet, US Director of Central Intelligence, who resigned on Thursday; he and George Bush spent the entire day emphasizing that it wasn’t about taking responsibility.

Tenet is resigning for personal reasons; he wants to spend more time with his family, especially his high-school son (but did anyone ask the son if he wants to spend more time with his father?).

I don’t get this. Who is the President trying to protect with this charade? Didn’t George see the huge potential positive impact of just coming out and saying, “The CIA didn’t do its job. People need to be accountable. George Tenet was a fine public servant, and made great contributions to the CIA, but he led an agency which failed the nation at a critical time. We sat down and agreed it was time for a new start.”

That would have made the President appear decisive (not to mention honest), and Tenet responsible (and honorable).

These guys are so stupid they can’t even realize when taking responsibility would come out positive in the Rovian political calculus. They remain resolute in their refusal to ever take or assign blame about anything.

Zen meets 9/11

Saturday, April 10th, 2004

Condoleezza Rice testified before the 9/11 commission and it was her (I think) who used the phrase “hair on fire” to describe the level of urgency the intelligence community felt during the summer of 2001 about the domestic terrorism threat. “Hair on fire” will undoubtedly become one of the most popular phrases of the year.

A well-known Zen aphorism (coming from where?) also uses this phrase, telling us to “meditate as if your hair was on fire.” When I first heard this, I automatically assumed that it referred, in the same sense that Condi used it, to the level of urgency with which you should practice. But that seems kind of strange—meditating urgently. Eventually I came to the conclusion that “head on fire” in Zen probably means something quite different: namely that you should meditate in such as a way as to make your head feel like it is on fire.

Gayriage (II)

Saturday, February 7th, 2004

After my most recent posting on gayriage, plus some recent developments like the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision, I tried getting this posted on Kuro5hin, but this time my article was dumped quickly. Here’s what I had written:

George Bush is threatening a unique application of the “constitutional process”—to define a word, in this case “marriage”. Or more accurately, to specify a definition which the word can’t have: the legal union of a gay couple. The Massachusetts Supreme Court, on the other hand, is of the opinion that the mere use of a different word (“civil unions”) would keep something that’s otherwise exactly the same as marriage from being constitutional in that state. John Kerry’s in the middle, saying he’s against gay marriage, but for rights for gay couples.

Clearly, this is a problem of semantics. To which let’s bring a semantic solution, in the form of an easy-to-use new term for gay marriage that’s the same, yet different: Gayriage.

This gives everybody what they need. Bush can say that marriage is a sacred institution binding a man and a woman, and if gays want to get married so badly, they’re just going to have to get gayried instead. The Massachusetts court certainly can’t hold that the difference of one consonant at the beginning of a word makes anything unconstitutional. And for Kerry a line like “In my first hundred days I will protect marriage and stand up for diversity with an executive order creating the insitution of gayriage” fits right into his Lincolnesque shtick.

Our neologism inherits the entire linguistic context of the word “marriage”, providing ready-made expressions like “gayriage counseling” and “a gayried couple” to name just two.

Freedom of Speech (II)

Saturday, February 7th, 2004

Back in June, 2003 I posted about how people are abusing the concept of freedom of speech. Now the cyber-law-star Lawrence Lessig addresses the same topic, making completely justified fun of Ralph Nader’s ridiculous assertion that people saying he shouldn’t run for President are somehow depriving him of his First Amendment rights.

Chaput\'s narrow-minded politics rejected by bishops

Saturday, January 17th, 2004

Continuing our reporting in this space on attempts to tear down the wall between church and state by a Catholic fringe element led by His Eminence Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, American bishops recently completely repudiated Chaput’s bizarre notion that Catholics should spend all their energy trying to elect anti-abortion zealots to public office while ignoring dead Iraqi children, giving him only five votes out of 230 in an election for president of the United States Conference of Bishops.

Elected instead was Bishop Skylstead of Spokane, in spite of criticism by the fanatics that he spent too much time talking about low-priority issues such as war and capital punishment. The same fanatics also tried to make an issue of Skylstead’s creative approach of taking the diocese into bankruptcy in order to deal fairly with the victimes of decades of priestly pedophilia.

Shooting Mexicans up to the moon

Friday, January 9th, 2004

Bush is really on a policy roll. He’s announced two big initiatives in the last week: first, he wants to legalize the status of illegal immigrants; second, he wants a base on the moon and eventually to go to Mars.

But none of our intrepid pundits have unearthed the obvious connection between these two proposals. Bush clearly wants to attract and keep immigrants so he can then shoot them up to the moon and eventually hopefully Mars.

Joe Lieberman regrets not focusing on the crime victims’ rights

Friday, January 9th, 2004

At the Democratic presidential candidates’ radio debate on January 5, the candidates were asked to cite a mistake they made that they regretted; in response, Joe Lieberman brought up the fact that as Connecticut’s attorney general he had focused more on the rights of criminals than crime victims.

Just a couple of minor things Joe. First of all, why couldn’t you just have focused on all the rights that everyone is supposed to have instad of picking and choosing your favorite people to have rights? Second, as a lawyer I hope you know that the criminal process involves exactly two parties, the state and the charged. Although some people might like the victim to have rights, such as to see the bad guy shot by a firing squad, for instance, in our legal system, thankfully, they don’t, other than to make a sentencing statement or in some cases get restitution. So Joe, precisely which victims’ rights are you were sorry you didn’t focus on more?

Victims’ Revenge Rights

Saturday, December 20th, 2003

Victims rights are hugely popular now and very politically correct. For instance, in Nevada the law provides for victims to be “heard at all proceedings for the sentencing or release of a convicted person after trial,” where a victim is defined as anyone with a direct family relationship with the actual victim; the accused’s family has no such rights. That’s blatantly unfair. Can’t that be challenged in the courts?

And Nancy Reagan spoke out against the decision to allow John Hinckley unsupervised visits with his parents, referring to Jim Brady and the pain he still lives in; Michael Reagan called the decision an “outrage”, managing to toss in a demeaning insult relating to the age of Hinckley’s parents (they’re in their 80’s).

Why does Nancy Reagan care? Or Michael? If they think Hinckley is a danger to themselves or society, then they’re going against the expert opinion of five psychiatrists, including two hired by the government. No, what they want is revenge, pure and simple. He shot their husband/dad so he should stay in prison forever and not even get the chance to make day trips with his parents. Lock him up and throw away the key.

To me it’s weird that the media never calls to task any of these victims on their obvious thirst for revenge. Can’t our fearless commentators just come out and point out the truth that these people simply can’t get over it and need counseling? The same goes double for victim’s families who hunger after revenge in the form of legalized murder of the criminal. In Bob’s ideal world, the law guaranteeing them the right to be heard at the sentencing hearing would also require the judge to order them to counseling if they appeared to have become psychologically unbalanced with a rabid desire for revenge.

Yes, I know the victims feel pain. But the law provides objective guidelines for punishment proportional to the gravity of the crime already. We certainly we can’t let the degree of the victim’s pain determine the punishment meted out to the perpetrator.

The trend now is to make your point by giving a new name to the topic you are discussing. In that light, I humbly propose that “Victim’s Rights” be renamed “Victim’s Revenge Rights”.

Lock’m up and throw away the key

Wednesday, November 19th, 2003

The world’s best newspaper, the New York Times, reported on how the rights of sex offenders are being grievously infringed by them being kept locked up for years and decades after their debts to society are paid, under the rubric of vague psychological diagnoses made within a system where there is no accountability, or appealability. They report that in the NJ system 304 people have gone in over the last 15 years and a grand total of 11 have come out.

They tell the story of a man condemned to another year in custody based on the testimony of a pyschiatrist who had never actually met him that he had a personality disorder of unspecified nature. Another prisoner was about to be released when he had the misfortune of brushing up against a female guard when passing through a narrow doorway; a pyschiatrist testifed that he “might well have had” rape fantasies as he did so; that was good enough to put him away for another year.

We have to understand that the law defines the punishment for crimes and when that punishment has been fulfilled the person comes out. If we don’t like the punishment, then we can change the law. What we can’t do is arbitrarily keep people locked up forever after they finish serving their sentences based on a vague fear that they might repeat their crimes. (Actually, sex criminals repeat their crimes less often than other types.)