Friday, June 20, 2003

The Real Jessica Story?
I don't usually link to Kristof, but his story in today's New York Times is, well, amazing.

What's amazing is that his story, if true, would be a thousand times better than the original one. The heroic attempts by the Iraqi hospital staff to protect Private Lynch, including talking a soldier out of executing her, would have been the perfect story from this administration's point of view. See, it would say to Americans, the Iraqi people are not evil; they are being tyrannized by an evil man. Wasn't it worth it to fight this war to free these lovely people from a monster?

Instead, they played up to the imbecile jingoism of the hard right. Even Kristof seems to be getting tired of it, although he cannot bring himself, yet, to call it lying:

My guess is that "Saving Private Lynch" was a complex tale vastly oversimplified by officials, partly because of genuine ambiguities and partly because they wanted a good story to build political support for the war — a repetition of the exaggerations over W.M.D. We weren't quite lied to, but facts were subordinated to politics, and truth was treated as an endlessly stretchable fabric.

The Iraqis misused our prisoners for their propaganda purposes, and it hurts to find out that some American officials were misusing Private Lynch the same way.

I think we have to face it, folks: in the immortal words of the Hawk, these people could fuck up a beach party.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Gays in Law and Life
There's been much comment in blogtopia (ysctp!) lately about Canada's decision to allow gay civil unions. Some people have gone as far as claiming that legalizing gay marriage will lead to rampant infidelity among heterosexuals. If you want to read up, check Calpundit or Matthew Yglesias.

I find conservative opinion about gays fascinating in a driving-by-a-car-accident sort of way, because they defy reality. At least, they defy any reality I have ever encountered. Let me give you an example: fundamentalists are always blathering about homosexuals wanting to "lure" young children into their "perversion". I have known two child molesters in my life, and they were both married men with children of their own. On the other hand I have two very close friends, gay males, whom I have known for at least twenty years. Neither one of them have ever done anything I could consider immoral, and their views on child molesters are harsher than mine.

Besides, the whole moral-immoral issue is irrelevant here. Gays contribute to this society as taxpayers. As long as they do, they should have the same rights as the rest of us. Churches can do whatever the heck they want about their membership; but under our Constitution membership in a church is not a requirement of American citizenship.

One more thing: if the sight of two men or two women being considered a legal couple will drive heterosexual men to cheat more than they already do (and someone mentioned on tv the other day that 50% of married men cheat), then marriage is a rather precarious affair rather than the pillar of society conservatives tout it to be.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Arriba, Los Pobres Del Mundo

Jay Caruso's comments regarding the prospective brouhaha in California has evoked some rather spirited debate. I posted this:

Now let's try for reality: the republicans LOST the election. There was not question, no silly little Supreme Court decision.LOST. LOST. LOST.

The recall was started by Republicans that cannot stand they LOST. Even though they were told, by their own consultants, that to run the moron they were running would result in a resounding defeat. But my goodness, no, they had to run with a right hardliner--in California. And they LOST.

And now they get to do it again...and again...and long as they have the financing...until they get the answer they want.

Everyone repeat after me now: we should all respect the results, even when we disagree with them. Isn't that what republicans tell me every time I complain about Bush?

Check out this response:

Everyone repeat after me now: we should all respect the results, even when we disagree with them.

As I have never really respected the power of the chant, I shall give it a good hearted go.

I will respect the results of the recall even if I do not agree with them.

I will respect the results of the recall even if I do not agree with them.

I will respect the results of the recall even if I do not agree with them.

I will respect the results of the recall even if I do not agree with them.

I will respect the results of the recall even if I do not agree with them.

Thank you Emma. I was going to respect those results anyway but I feel much better now. No wonder Red rallies have so many happy people!

I think somewhere in Heaven, my favorite uncle is laughing his ass off.

Corporations and Morality
The news is full of corporate misdeeds: from the executives of Rite Aid pleading guilty to criminal conspiracy to Dynegy's alchemists being indicted for criminal and civil fraud.

The print edition of Financial Times ran a first page article on Friday headlined US Companies rocked by new charges. Inside a whole page was dedicated to cases. In addition to Dynegy, FT reports on the troubles of Mobil (executive convicted for fraud in relation to massive bribery scandal in Kazakhstan), Network Associates (executives guilty of fraud for artificially inflating revenues), Freddie Mac (assorted disasters), and worst of all, Guidant (guilty on felony charges for covering up a defective surgical instrument).

And if you think it's only in the US, forget it: the French company Vivendi is having one of its own, as is the Japanese bank Resona, which according to FT may have resulted in the suicide of an auditor.

I know very little about the ins and outs of finance: as I have said here before, I am "economically challenged" and I don't mean in my bank account. But it seems to me that we are running into two problems:(1) there is no such thing as a "corporate morality" to act as a brake on executive's behavior and (2) personal morality is overriden by corporate well-being.

In the United States that seems to be compounded by the fact that a corporation is considered a person for legal purposes. That allows the executives to get out from under most actions against a corporation, unless clear criminal acts can be proven.
I don't think the Justice department often bothers, even in cases involving life-and-limb issues, leaving it to be settled in through civil actions or shareholder suits. In both cases, the amounts involved, although sounding gigantic to us working stiffs, seem to be ultimately along the lines of pocket change for the "corporate person".

Is there a solution?

Sunday, June 15, 2003

If you read only one blog entry today, go to Billmon for an explanation of how the US economy is balanced on the edge of disaster. Economically challenged as I am, I have been getting the sinking feeling that we are in for a right royal mess sooner or later. Billmon explains why.

If you have time for more, go to Jeanne to see why unfettered capitalism may be the worst thing that ever happened to the Third World.

And if you have time for fun, go see which I Claudius character you are. I'm Claudius...which sounds typical for me!


You're not the fool everyone takes you for. You put on a show to stay under the radar. Underneath your bumbling exterior, you are a shrewd and calculating person. You don't enjoy being in the spotlight, but you can take charge if absolutely neccessary. But trust no one, not even your best friend, because you never know who might betray you.

You were portrayed by Derek Jacobi.

Which I, Claudius Character are You? created by
Shiny Objects