Oct 312007
 

Bush Says Congress Is Wasting Time – New York Times By BRIAN KNOWLTON

Referring to the current congressional session, Mr. Bush said: “We’re near the end of the year, and there really isn’t much to show for it. The House of Representatives has wasted valuable time on a constant stream of investigations, and the Senate has wasted valuable time on an endless series of failed votes to pull our troops out of Iraq.”

Tricky Dick Nixon thought Congress was wasting its time investigating Watergate. For the past 6+ years, Republicans stopped any and all investigations — there was NO oversight of the almighty executive and no accountability. During that time, America lashed out at the world, spied on its own citizens and ran up expenses and casualties that would have an honorable man gutting himself with a sword. Now, we’re just starting to shine a bright light on things and Duhbya and his cronies want that stopped ASAP. mjh

 Posted by at 2:25 pm on Wed 10/31/07
Oct 302007
 

Marty Chávez
The Republican Wing of the Democratic Party

Marty Chávez
A Democrat for Republicans

mjh

Note to readers from http://www.democracyfornewmexico.com/: Please look around a bit before you leave.

 Posted by at 12:37 pm on Tue 10/30/07
Oct 302007
 

Jeffrey H. Birnbaum – Former Gun Lobbyist Says NRA Aims Mostly for Money – washingtonpost.com
“Richard Feldman is a rarity — a former gun lobbyist who is publicly taking a shot at the National Rifle Association.

In his new book, “Ricochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist,” Feldman accuses the powerful NRA of being in business primarily to raise money for itself and its executives, and of using self-defeating scare tactics to keep its coffers full.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/29/AR2007102902121.html?wpisrc=newsletter

 Posted by at 9:26 am on Tue 10/30/07
Oct 302007
 

2007 Spying Said to Cost $50 Billion – washingtonpost.com
“By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2007; Page A04

The director of national intelligence will disclose today that national intelligence activities amounting to roughly 80 percent of all U.S. intelligence spending for the year cost more than $40 billion, according to sources on Capitol Hill and inside the administration.

The disclosure means that when military spending is added, aggregate U.S. intelligence spending for fiscal 2007 exceeded $50 billion, according to these sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the total remains classified.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/29/AR2007102902062.html?wpisrc=newsletter

 Posted by at 9:25 am on Tue 10/30/07
Oct 282007
 

I’ve admired Jim Scarantino for years. Jim is both articulate and passionate. He uses those two qualities well in speaking and writing. Like clockwork, twice a week — once for the Alibi and once for KNME — Jim is out there, thoughtful and cuttingly clever.

On those rare occasions when he drops a dud, I forgive him. Sometimes, I struggle with his point, as in this week’s strange column lambasting effete urban treehuggers. (Jim did not use one of those words, a measure of his skill.)

Jim’s the real deal as an environmentalist. He walks the walk 50 miles at a time. He’s been deeper in the wild longer than I have and come back with words and pictures that one has to admire. Moreover, Jim has faced dangers few of us will: He was a pro-environment Republican. Talk about cojones. No wonder he doesn’t suffer people who *say* they love the environment but can’t prove it when the tread hits the trail.

There’s more than a little testosterone-poisoning in Jim’s column this week. He throws the word “enviro” around like he’s rejoined the Republican Party. You hear the sneer, even in print. Enviros live in cities and make life miserable for real people who don’t. After reading his column, anyone will feel like punching an enviro in the face.

Maybe that’s part of his clever plan. Perhaps, Jim’s giving a tough-love lesson: “Now you know how you’ve made those good country folk feel.” Perhaps, Jim can inspire (or humiliate) talkers into becoming doers. Unlike most mean-spirited screeds, his offers concrete actions that he suggests might make him stop despising, well, me, for one. (Uh-oh, are my hurt feelings showing? Typical wimpy tree-hugger!)

Trying to put aside the attack and look for substance, I have problems with Jim’s … — let’s generously call it “reasoning.” Most broadly, I despise the attitude that only selected people “count” or are entitled to an opinion on a subject. Jim’s argument about wolves is identical to the argument some make about Iraq: if you’re not there, shut the fuck up. That’s right: If you oppose the war but don’t actually go there, your opinion is worth less — no, worthless. (Unless that opinion is pro-war, paradoxically.) I can’t believe Jim feels that way about the war, but he cannot deny that that is precisely his argument regarding wolves.

Further, Jim explains that UNM students who care about the fate of the lobo not only look stupid but actually make matters worse because they antagonize the “salt of the earth” (Das Folk) living noble lives in places like Reserve. If you don’t drop out of school and go tend the wolves hands-on, you’re a hypocrite. Way to inspire! Nice lesson.

Moreover, while every column and columnist has limits, I’m not surprised that Jim leaves out some interesting facts. For example, people lived with wolves AND grizzly bears for millennia without the benefit of the 2nd Amendment or private property. We call those people Indians and after we swept them aside, the Federal Government proceeded to destroy all other competing predators. (Any wonder the Feds might not get it right this time?) Mind you, I’m under no illusions that Indians wouldn’t be as brutal as anyone else given guns and deeds. We only have to look at dozens of Isleta Pueblo billboards to see all people are alike.

But who owns the public lands ranching depends upon? “We” do, which includes Jim, me, college students and ranchers. Therefore, we’re all not just entitled to an opinion; we all have a stake in the use of public lands NO MATTER HOW FAR FROM THOSE LANDS WE LIVE and even if one never steps foot on public land. Public land is not private land.

Painting broadly, Jim chooses not to mention two types of ranchers. Everyone ignores the ranchers who figure they can put up with wolves. (Did you know you could buy “wolf friendly” beef from such ranchers?) More deceptively, Jim hides the ranchers who believe there is no public land, just their own private property. Like some nutty relation, they might distract from the appearance of reasonableness.

Most unforgivable is Jim’s adoption of a strawman, proof how weak his argument is. While this is *the* technique of lesser lights, I expect more from Jim who suggests that if you really love wolves, turn them loose in the city. You realize there are people (on both sides of the issue) who would be very happy with that solution. While we’re at it, let’s turn polar bears loose in New Mexico. Jim suggests you’re a hypocrite if you think wild things belong IN THE WILD and more so than domesticated animals. (Many years ago, I suggested grazing cattle on golf courses in response to some bloviation from St Pete. I fully support the voluntary relocation of all ranchers out of the Gila and onto the huge number of golf courses in desert New Mexico. Cows would readily take to the change and the long drive to town would be eliminated.)

By all means, let’s buy ranch land and grazing rights and let it go wild. Let’s put boots on the ground, in a friendly, non-confrontational way. Let’s give money to the good folk who accept that the wolf is back. Let’s do what we can, wherever we are, to save wilderness and wild things. The return of the wolf to New Mexico is far more important than anything Jim or I have to say. Make it work. mjh

PS: I agree with Jim, and many others, that the wolf reintroduction is not working now. I’m sure people on both sides have made it worse. I know Joe Skeen did everything he could to fuck it up and Steve Pearce will try even harder, ignoring any percentage of public lands stakeholders he chooses.

 Posted by at 1:46 pm on Sun 10/28/07
Oct 272007
 

I’ve just completed ‘my’ first Podcast. Before I say more about that, allow me a moment to rail against the word “Podcast.” In doing so, I open a can of worms (nearly a pun, in this context). After all, language isn’t as logical as many would like to believe, being the most human of practices. I know: A crow can describe the type of gun a hunter carries. Still, a million monkeys would not come up with “Podcast.” (God bless them.)

Some will see in my resentment of “Podcast” roots in my OS orientation. Indeed, a problem with Podcast is that it stems from iPods, the viral product that revivified Apple, which used to be a computer company. My hat is off to iPple for making the recording and distribution of audio and video accessible to the masses. While Podcasts are to blogs what TV is to literature, it is all part of liberating and empowering us to reach each other.

But “Podcast”? pLease! My recent experience didn’t involve an iPod at any stage — how is it a Podcast? Talk about branding. If only Apple could get us to write it as “Pod©cast,” or some such variant.* It’s as if we all started calling handkerchiefs “Kleenex.” Good for a corporation; bad for a culture.

Understand, the main reason Apple has such a small niche of the computer market is that Apple products are expensive. They remain expensive because Apple has an iron grip on its products. Every CEO and petty dictator wishes for Steve Jobs’ power, especially over the masses. Whereas Microsoft is largely a software company that also sells hardware, Apple is a hardware company that also sells software. iPhone and iTouch are simply the latest examples.

I get the pun: broadcast –> Podcast. He-he. I have no problem with awkward language, like the word awkward itself or “blogosphere.” But “blog” is not a product like “Pod.” That capital “P” represents what disappoints me most about consumers. We are sheep. We are dim-witted animals slopping at the corporate troughs, squealing our delight at any swill thrown our way. Don’t like my analogy? Corporations clearly see us that way — just examine advertising.

It is the most Orwellian development that Apple, the subversive company bringing power to the people in the face of the Evil Empire (Microsoft), is really just Sharper Image. Mind you, I don’t object to the mass-production of expensive toys for the rich and wannabee rich. But people shopping at Sharper Image don’t think it brings “power to the people!” Apple customers have morphed from “cool” to “tool” without even noticing. Moreover, by convincing people that consistently buying one brand sets them apart — that Apple is cool, not corporate — puts Apple right there with Starbucks, Nike and the Republican Party. Now, go put on your iBlinders and jack back into the Matrix — Apple needs you. mjh

PS: Peace and love to all my Mac friends. I know you’re cool with a little bear-baiting. You joined the revolution in the garage days. (Apple II, anyone?) Only the newbies are tatooing corporate logos on their souls, right? It’s our corporate overlords I’d like to irritate. Don’t be their shills in the comments section.

PPS: Oh, yeah, that ‘Internet-based audio interview’ was with Benson Hendrix at UNM. The 37 minute file can be found at https://www4.unm.edu/unmlive/?p=34. There is hardly any corporation- or consumer-bashing in it (dude, I’ve got books to sell) and we didn’t have time to discuss Geek Culture.

*My buddy, cko sent me this link to a letter in which an Apple attorney renounces any claim on “podcast” and uses the lowercase form. OK — I retract the assertion that Apples wants podcast capitalized. Then why would anyone capitalize it? Respect? Deference? Slavish devotion? I don’t know. I dislike the word “podcast” almost as much as “Podcast,” but maybe I’ve been unfair to Apple. (Aw, look at that cute little corporation!) Perhaps iPple does “Think Different.” (That error is another entry.)

 Posted by at 12:55 pm on Sat 10/27/07
Oct 272007
 

Well, what about Reagan?, By Charles Krauthammer

Major grumbling among conservatives about the Republican field. So many candidates, so many flaws. Rudy Giuliani, abortion apostate. Mitt Romney, flip-flopper. John McCain, Mr. Amnesty. Fred Thompson, lazy boy. Where is the paragon? Where is Ronald Reagan?

Well, what about Reagan? This president, renowned for his naps, granted amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants in the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill. As governor of California, he signed the most liberal abortion legalization bill in America, then flip-flopped and became an abortion opponent. What did he do about it as president? Gave us Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, the two swing votes that upheld and enshrined Roe v. Wade for the last quarter-century.

 Posted by at 12:47 pm on Sat 10/27/07