Friday, January 17, 2003

Sickening, isn't it?

"Rambo IV is expected to hit cinemas next year, featuring action in Afghanistan and battles with the Taliban."

Thursday, January 16, 2003

The Kids are Alright

You almost could have heard the collective gasp of shock when it was reported earlier this week that Pete Townshend had been picked up as part of an investigation into child pornography.

Townshend's defense, that he was doing research as part of an anti-kidporn crusade he is on, has been met with skepticism and ridicule. For the average person, it seems that guilt by association is good enough for conviction.

It's really been interesting to watch long-time Who fans wrestle with this. They had a difficult enough time accepting that Townshend dallied with the "rough boys" back in the 80s. Already suspect in many minds, the equation of Townshend and kiddie porn added up for many people to equal perversion of the worst kind.

I'd like to remind these folks, however, that in the Western world, we have traditionally relied on the concept of "innocent until proven guilty." We don't know what was removed from his house or what investigators will find on his computers. But we do know that he wasn't charged with anything after he was taken down to the station for questioning.

Is the fact that he wasn't charged enough to claim that he's completely innocent? No. Simply put, all the facts aren't in. As the father of two kids, I deplore kiddie porn as much as anyone, but I'm willing to give Townshend the benefit of the doubt until a stronger case is made.

I think that Townshend was caught up in the net of zealous prosecutors on both sides of the pond. That we've had several relatively high profile cases of stars-with-kid-porn lately makes me wonder. If you'll recall from John Ashcroft's confirmation hearings, getting child pornographers is one of his top priorities. What better way to make a spalsh than to arrest some "Hollywood stars"? Paul Reubens, Jeffrey Jones, Pete Townshend ... who's next?

This ties in completely with a report just issued by the ACLU. According to the report:

"If we do not take steps to control and regulate surveillance to bring it into conformity with our values, we will find ourselves being tracked, analyzed, profiled, and flagged in our daily lives to a degree we can scarcely imagine today. We will be forced into an impossible struggle to conform to the letter of every rule, law, and guideline, lest we create ammunition for enemies in the government or elsewhere. Our transgressions will become permanent Scarlet Letters that follow us throughout our lives, visible to all and used by the government, landlords, employers, insurance companies and other powerful parties to increase their leverage over average people."

Is what is happening to Townshend and others the tip of the iceberg? I think so.

Pursuing people who do bad things is to be commended. Ruining good people and writing it off as collateral damage is inexcuseable.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Glory Be on High

Really, actually, the more I think about this, the more it begins to make sense.

Same ol' same ol' crap
Scoobie has been on about neocon media star Michael Savage. I guess for right-wing A.M. radio fans, Savage is the second coming of Rush. Here's some of Savage's best prose:

"Just as we were crossing the crosswalk, a cab tried to cut us off and almost killed six of us. I naturally turned around and screamed at the driver, ‘Go back to where you came from,’ and that type of thing. He was a swarthy Middle Easterner, but I couldn’t have cared less."

Who are the people who buy these books and listen to this radio show?

Whoever they are, they're eating this crap up. Oh, I know who they are. You don't run into them so much in the high-tech industry, where I work, but they're all around me in Texas, where I live.

A good friend of mine works in the insurance industry and sees a lot of guys who sound suspiciously like Savage. They can put up a nice, civilized front, but when you're with the rest of the good old boys, no shade of brown skin is light enough or successful enough. These are the guys who will take the family to church on Sunday and hook up with the girlfriend on Monday.

They'll say, "You know, the problem with you liberals is that you *feel* too much," yet they lap up the visceral verbiage spewed out daily by right-wing talkshow hosts. Is it just that they're "going along with the program" because all they ultimately care about is accumulating as much wealth and power as possible?

That they vote overwhelmingly (universally?) Republican is no big surprise. I've read some discussion of demographic trends that point to the coming eclipse of this WASPublican profile by ethnic minorities, specifically blacks and hispanics. The RNC party knows that appealing to this base is key, which is one reason Lott got dropped.

I suspect, though, that the RNC has a long way to go. Consider this statement by California Republican Party Secretary Shannon Reeves:

"As a Bush delegate at the 2000 convention in Philadelphia, I proudly wore my delegate's badge and (Republican National Committee) lapel pin as I worked the convention. Regardless of the fact that I was obviously a delegate prominently displaying my credentials, no less than six times did white delegates dismissively tell me (to) fetch them a taxi or carry their luggage."

Why would someone put up with this?

I don't know.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Recrapturing the Market Base

If anyone knows about crap and how to deal with it, it's the people of Beirut.