Monday, January 31, 2005

Good for Iraqis!

So Iraqis defied the naysayers and the terrorists, and they went out and did what most Americans take for granted... they actually went to the polls and they VOTED!

And here's the thing, folks... there are plenty of voters who walked MILES to reach the nearest polling place and waited HOURS in the hot desert sun before casting their ballots. AND they were told in no uncertain terms by the terrorists that if they showed up to vote that they were going to DIE! But they did it anyway! 44 people were killed by terrorists, but it didn't stop more than half of the populace from showing up and voting in that country's first free elections in a half a century.

Cripes, some Iraqis even brought their CHILDREN with them, despite the death threats!

Now compare that to the complaints this commentator kept on hearing about the 2004 Presidential Election here in America.

"The lines are too long!"

"There aren't enough voting booths."

"It's raining! I don't want to wait out in the rain!"

"I don't trust the Diebold machines! They cheat!"

"I'm too busy to deal with voting."

"I don't like either candidate, and I don't want to throw my vote away!"

It makes us look like a bunch of lazy whiners, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Quick movie review: HBO's "Dirty War"

I watched the debut of "Dirty War" on HBO last night. This was a 90-minute movie made by the folks over at the BBC which showed what a so-called "dirty bomb" would be like if detonated in Liverpool.

The first part of the movie was spent showing the set-up for the attack, as well as a crash course in Islamic terror cells to a young Muslim police detective. This put a face on the enemy, instead of them just being unknown hooded thugs. There was also the inevitable "human condition" storylines that had to be developed, such as the government officials who try to put on a brave face to their legislative overseers while knowing that they're just biding time, or the fireman and his wife. The terrorist plot begins to unfold when a couple of terrorists scold an Islamic mother's daughter for how she dressed. She suspects something's up with them, so she watches, and then calls the police. The pieces start getting put together, but unfortunately it's not in time to stop the first bomb from going off.

The last third of the move is spent in the immediate aftermath of the detonation. Watching the effects of detonation reminded me too much of the spectator accounts in New York during 9/11. It was very disturbing, even without seeing bloodshed. People start wandering about, seeing smoke, not realizing that they're already exposed to radiation. Government agencies try to contain the crowds and stop a panic, but you know that doesn't work. Watching people go through mass decontamination was equally disturbing (and not for kids, in case you're wondering).

I won't give away how it finishes, but the last part seemed all too numb. I realize that London is used to dealing with terrorist attacks thanks in no small part to the Irish Republican Army, but I really don't think that the kind of attack that was being shown was something that could be easily dismissed just a couple of weeks later. I mean Americans still have a hard time dealing with the site of the World Trade Towers. Imagine three square miles of prime real estate suddenly being unbearably radioactive for the next three decades! Do you really think the British people would simply shrug and say "buggers, oh well, back to work" after only two weeks?

I also think that 90 minutes was too short for that kind of story. It should have been at least two hours. Not because I’m a sadist, but because they spent too much time for the setup and then when it came to the immediate after-effects they just rushed things through.

Still, I think that this is an important movie for people to see so they can understand the kind of evil that we are facing. By all means, if you have HBO, you SHOULD see this one at least once. This is the kind of thing that every city around the world has to deal with.

Friday, January 21, 2005

FCC Powell To Join Daddy In Leaving?

So the rumors are abound that the Grand Poobah of the Federalist Christian Censors will be resigning. Michael Powell is supposedly joining his father (Secretary of State Colin Powell) in leaving the Bush Junior Administration.

I know that some folks are thinking that this is a GREAT idea. Powell captained the S.S. REPRESSION all through 2004 and made broadcasters on all levels so skittish of the government that they would bleep, blur, and censor anything that could piss people off.

On the other hand, though, Powell wasn't the real problem with the FCC. The FCC was co-opted by two groups working for the same repressive factions.

First were the repressive bunch of conservatives, neo-conservatives, theocrats, and moralists in that body of corruption we call the Congress. Sam Brownback and Rick Santorum and the freedom-haters that support those people were quick to abuse their power and drag network executives to answer their complaints about broadcast standards.

Second is the FCC commissioner who has been working behind the scenes all this time who has constantly pushed for more repression and more censorship. His name is Michael Copps, and he's been in the FCC for DECADES! THIS is the person who needs to go, not Powell! Powell's departure only serves to strengthen Copps' stranglehold over the broadcasting spectrum.

Powell came in as the voice of reason, although it was pretty clear his positions changed on certain subjects (content being one of them) in the years gone by. He didn't see new technologies as worlds to plunder. In fact, his was one of the few voices that suggested that the government didn't have any business IN those areas to begin with.

Unfortunately, as the years went on, and 9/11 happened, and Janet Jackson flashed a pasty-covered BOOB for the world to see, Powell started leaning towards more and more government control. All of a sudden it became "gauche" to let a new medium exist without some kind of government oversight and government regulation and government control! Can't control the content on Cable TV? Screw the Supreme Court! We don't care what those old farts think anyways! We're the FCC! Regulate the Internet? Well we weren't going to until those damned judges told us that we COULDN'T!

And then there was the fact that a bunch of repressive moralists from the Parents Television Council could bully the FCC into doing their bidding simply by fax-bombing and sending out multiple copies of the same complaint letter. Nine people suddenly become 4000, and suddenly THEY get veto power over free speech.

All in all, Michael Powell is not the one responsible for most of the repression, but it is happening under his watch. While he had his eye firmly on new technologies, he forgot to keep an eye on the repressive fossils working behind the scenes. Rather than telling the public to, quote, "take a breath", he should have been telling the PTC and his own people to do that first.

To quote Trump... Michael, YOU'RE FIRED!

Go on... out!

Exit Polls: Why Bother?

The alphabet soup media is still out there trying to figure out what the heck happened to their precious 2004 Election exit polls. Theories are plentiful as to how their polls could show John Kerry as the winner and yet still lose to Bush Junior.

One theory is that they recruited too many youngsters as poll workers. Maybe if they recruited some old farts then they would have ended up with a more balanced report. The only problem with that idea is that the only people who show up at the polls during the middle of the day are the old folks or the unemployed. Old people are a mainstay to elections! Why do you think Social Security has been such a "third rail" issue?

Another theory is that the poll workers spent too much time polling women and should have been more balanced in their selections. Hey guys? If they're youngsters and they're polling a disproportionate number of women, then they're trying to score some dates!

Look, I'm going to tell it to you straight: the reason why the exit polls failed is because THEY DON'T WORK!

Trying to measure a small portion of society and then claiming that it represents the whole is an arrogant presumption on the onset. And it was that presumption that came back and bit the media in their pampered butts!

And I know why they supposedly "NEED" these polls... because they want to have "the exclusive"! They want to be the FIRST ones to announce a winner! Well guess what? That kind obsession leads to fatal mistakes. CBS found out about that the hard way with the infamous "Memos". So did CNN a few years back with that whole "Tailwind" story.

Plus they make the air-fluffed members of the media look downright stupid, especially when the results turn out differently. "XYZ News reports that with only one-and-a-half percent of the votes tallied, Joe Schmoe is the winner!" And then when Joe Schmoe ends up losing, these air-fluffed personalities shrug and say "Whoops! Guess I look like a dumbass, huh?"

So CBS, ABC, CNN, NBC, Fox, AP, Reuters, and anyone else obsessed with knowing before you know... do yourself and the rest of the thinking world a favor and KILL THE EXIT POLLS! Believe me, you'll thank yourselves later.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

France wants to kiss and make up?

So as I understand it, Socialist France wants to make nice with the US again. According to Reuters, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier is making improved relations with the US a top priority for 2005.

Well isn't that interesting! The recovery in Iraq is still progressing, albeit slowly. Free elections are set for the end of the month. And the investigation for the Oil-For-Food fraud is still going strong.

Now it's not like France NEEDS the US. They're one of the dominant voices in the European Union. The Euro is doing better than the Dollar in the exchange market. They're doing quite well on their own. In fact, if the US should ever collapse - (shut your mouth!) - France is perfectly positioned to be the next superpower... behind Russia and China, that is.

I'll give you three possible reasons why France is suddenly deciding to play nice:

#1: They're tired of the namecalling. France is synonymous with wine, cheese, socialism, and surrender. I suppose after being called a bunch of "surrender-monkeys" and linked to the "Axis of Weasels" for a while it gets rather annoying.

One of my favorite cartoons is "Get Fuzzy" by Darby Conley, and one of the main characters is a wimpy dog, whose owner asks him if he's French because he doesn't like to get confrontational about anything. The dog replies "But the French model seems to show that, ultimately, someone will do my work FOR me." Well that's France.

#2: They want in on Iraq's rebuilding. To the victor goes the spoils, and right now the countries that are getting contracts are the ones that helped us out in getting Saddam. The French made their decision to play antagonist in this matter, thus they were shut out of the contracts.

#3: They want a "Get Out Of Jail Free" Card. Like I said, the Oil-For-Food Fraud case is moving, and France was one of the key countries that profited from Saddam's illegal skimming. They figure if they play nice with the Bush Junior Administration, then their role in this matter will quietly go away.

Either of these reasons will do, and it is probably even a combination of all three. It could also be because France has an incredible influx of Muslims coming in from Alergia and other points, and religious extremism is running pretty high over there. It would probably help them if they had a friend with some clout to be the heavy hitter against the extremists so they won't have to.

My thought is that if Socialist France wants to make-up with the United States, then by all means please do. There are some things about the French that we certainly could pick up on, especially when it comes to secularism and certain social freedoms. But this should be not without conditions. Remember that we don't need France like we did in the 18th and 19th Century. If anything, France needs US!

France needs to come clean about their role in the Oil-For-Food fraud. Name names and list bank accounts. Help us with our case against Saddam. That will go a long way to helping out relations.

It would also help if the French government would stop being the chief antagonist in foreign affairs involving the United States. There's nothing wrong with voicing skepticism or having legitimate questions about a certain course of action. But realize that when you're up against a bunch of neo-cons running around in perpetual WAR mode, the worst place you could be is right in the path their tank treads. If you have objections, rise them and then stand aside and let the US either fail or succeed. Then at least if the US fails, you have the moral high ground to say "We told you so".

Resuming good relations with France shouldn't be a blanket forgiveness of sins or an agreement to forget past actions. As the late Ronald Reagan said about the Soviet Union, we need to "trust, but verify" when it comes to France. Otherwise it will all be just for show and we'll be back talking about banning French Fries and French Vanilla simply because of the name.

Monday, January 10, 2005

CBS finally says "You're Fired"

After much delay, CBS finally released their report on the whole Memogate incident.

As expected, the report said that the high zeal to be the "first" to report on possible discrepancies in Bush Junior's National Guard service record caused CBS executives to ignore questions and suspicions on the veracity of the story, and thus were completely unaware that the memos in question were forgeries.

Oh, and no, there wasn't any "political agenda" being carried out here... oh, no, never! Perish the thought!

But they did find "the appearance of" political bias when the story's producer, Mary Mapes, contacted a senior official in the Kerry/Edwards campaign about the story prior to its airing. Yeah, "appearance of", but no "actual" political bias. Right.

The long and short of it is that Mapes and three others involved with the story were fired.

Unfortunately, Dan Rather himself will not be touched. He gets to leave under his own terms in March. That is the real injustice of the situation. He's the guy who continually challenged the detractors and demanded that President Bush, quote, "answer the question". His underlings get the axe, but he doesn't get touched!

And, to be honest, the recommendations that this report makes to CBS on how to prevent future journalistic embarassments will probably not go very far. Today's media is more about showmanship and the spreading of certain messages than it is to INFORM the public about anything substantive. "Standards and Practices" are more concerned with boobs being exposed than the truth! Remember that this is the same network that fired a producer for interrupting the last five minutes of CSI to give a REAL news story!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year 2005!

It's 2005! (Finally...)

You know what that means, right? Yeah, back to the usual insanity, because the Holiday Season will be officially OVER!

Okay, few things...

First, Brutally Honest will be BACK later this month. The website and column will be given all new stuff on January 16th. I've got a nice rant waiting in the wings too. The online rants will be back on January 19th. I want to work out a few goodies, possibly even explore changing audio formats to try to get as many people as possible to listen in.

Second, I am proud to announce the birth of ANOTHER Brutally Honest Blog... this one is called "Brutally Tech" and it is dedicated to tech-oriented issues. Now I'm not going to have an ongoing commentary on this blog site like I do with Random Thoughts. Instead, this site will have serious tech-oriented articles and issues. And the very first one is about the #1 online pain for 2004: SPYWARE!

By the way, these are going to be all original articles, no rehash from Wired or ZDNet or G4TechTV or anyplace like that, so you will get to know I do more than just rant and rave about politics and social issues.

Third... message to ABC: Yes we know Dick Clark couldn't be there in NYC to ring in the new year! I think that was made pretty apparent, and we don't need a regular reminder of it. And Regis, get with the program! You were two seconds behind the clock! If you're going to fill Dick's seat, at least keep up with the time!