Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Shielding Machiavelli

Senators Christopher Dodd, Dem, and Richard Lugar, Rep, have an Op-Ed piece in USA Today saying why we need and why they are proposing a federal shield law. From the read of their opinion, the shield law is something this country sorely needs. NOT!

Why take a bad habit in journalism and then protect it with a law that is sure to reinforce this bad behavior? While Sens. Dodd and Lugar write in lofty terms of protecting whistleblowers, exposing corruption and malfeasance, and the free exercise of the First Amendment, those situations are rarely the case. Who would be protected mostly by a shield law are leakers for political reasons and the journalistic hacks that depend on them for a livelihood.

A journalist who depends on leaks is no journalist. He or she is a tool of the leaker. If your job is to provide information, how are you doing your job when you conceal the most important bit of news in your story? Who and why was information provided? You can hardly read a news story dealing with Washington or government operation that doesn’t contain an un-attributable source. Unnamed sources are like a plague in the body of journalism. We are eat up with it. The practice has become the standard way of reporting on our government.

Scooter Libby was leaking information to Judith Miller to be published in the New York Times just prior to Cheney’s appearance on one of the Sunday morning news shows so he could refer to that as a fact instead of using their own selected -- and wrong -- intelligence. This type of administrative spin has gone on before, it is going on now, and it will go on even more so if there is a federal shield law.

This law would also shield those who believe that the right leak at the right time would enhance their own career by torpedoing someone else’s. They would be using journalists, and those people masquerading as journalists would have a job because they brought in another story with an astonishing new byte. The MSM would be monetarily enriched from increased readers or viewers because of their sensational story and professionally diminished because the true news is who leaked the information and why and it would go unreported. With the shield law this will be even more so, because the leaker’s identity would be protected because the reporter would be shielded.

The public would be better served by an open and transparent news world. Let the leakers material go on the Op-Ed or society page, stop turning the front page into a gossip broadside.

I admire whistleblowers for having the guts or ethics or both to standup and point their finger at wrong doing. The best ones are the ones that put their name and reputation on the line -- less so those that speak only on grounds that they not be identify. Nevertheless, the shield law would protect far more of the wrong kind of leakers, those operating a hidden agenda that has nothing to do with ethics or wrong doing. They are doing the wrong doing because they are compromising the public information exchange for their own selfish reasons.

So it comes down to whether we want to protect reporters who receive an exposé from some conscientious sole inside the organization or set up a situation that will bring back “yellow journalism” in a whole new form. You will not need a public relations department when you can control the news through a protected means. Do we save the arm but loose the patient through wholesale corruption of the body?

The shield law is way bad news.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Disney’s Islam-o-land

Well I just got back from a trip to Disney World with the fam’. I never got to visit Disneyland as a child and was too old to truly appreciate Disney World when it came along – the Disney experience is particularly for kids – but I have experienced it as a parent, and now as a grandparent. To look at Disney as a bottom line or an investment potential, to consider it with the current goings on at corporate level and expectation for survivability, and then to see it manifest on a personal level is a ride all its own. Being there is really an experience to watch the Disney people as they handles crowds and provides services and confirms the belief that there is genius in the details.

While ensconced in the Disney experience, I suddenly had an epiphany: If only Dick Cheney had worked for Disney instead of Halliburton, Iraq would be a going concern today. Disney knows how to organize people and get them moving toward the realization of their dreams.

I could see Islam-o-land where Iraq, that strategy that was more ideology than reality, where Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn shards are waiting for who? to be pick up (democratic leaders, mullahs, another absolute ruler), that civil war waiting to happen, is now. There is a bounty of legends to characterize. They already have the myth from Aladdin available. I could see an Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves development. And then there’s that whole Egyptian potential, and the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian connection just waiting to be exercised.

What the Disney people could do with such potential. Of course, there would be the Neocon’s dream, which Disney could call Democracy Land, where the unalienable rights including individual freedom and societal and religious compromise meet. The mullahs would no doubt play a major role, but the freedom seed would be planted. Who could not go for a ride through something like that and not be changed?

And what Disney could do with Oil Land, or a tie in with the energy exhibit at Epcot. If Disney had been in control of the takeover of Baghdad, at least the museums and historical artifacts would not have been looted anymore than the Oil Ministry was. Energy without culture has no meaning. Halliburton only sees oil. Disney has learned to see the complete package.

The Disney people would scope out the terrain and the various factions. At Disney World, it is amazing how some major physical object or setting can completely disappear overnight to be replaced by another such as a tree or a whole landscape.

I am aware that Disney Europe is not the success that Disney World in Florida is or that the major ride everybody experiences at Disney World is standing in line. But hey! Give the Disney people time. Remember, when the original Disneyland was done, they made the mistake of not obtaining the surrounding territory for later development. They did not make that mistake in Florida. Also, no possible expenditure by anyone anywhere in Florida goes unnoticed by Disney. Whether it’s sports, water park, or respectable adult entertainment, Disney will come up with a ride or even theme park. No doubt if Disney had at Disney Europe an anti-American ride, attendance would sky rocket and the line would exceedingly long – you’d certainly want to get a Fast Pass© for that one. Europeans would love to be in a position to look down on Americans, so you will not go wrong exploiting any manifestation of feelings of inadequacy or irrelevance.

I drove through Celebration, the city Disney built, and was impressed that it was like going to MGM Grand but people actually worked and lived there. It wasn’t a mock up. What it’s like living there, I can only guess, but it sure looks tranquil, modernized nostalgia, and inviting.

Next, there may be the state of Disney and then the country. I can hardly wait. Can I buy my ticket now?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Mr. Blog Isn't Going to Take it Anymore

A blurb in Editor and Publisher about Mary Mapes new book referring to story by Howared Kurtz of the Washington Post (why don’t they link) shows her true self. She appears to be attacking bloggers in her book for her own crash-burn over the 60 Minuets story on Bush’s National Guard service and seems to confirm the old adage that when a person is confronted by a catastrophe they either learn from it and become stronger and wiser or they join the ranks of the walking wounded for the rest of their life. The slant of the E&P story seems to indicate that Ms. Mapes is of the latter in her response to her journalistic embarrassment and dismissal from CBS.

Let’s see if I got this right. As the producer, she is responsible for going on nation wide television charging the President of the United States got special treatment in the National Guard, and she did not have the proof to back up her talking head, Dan Rather, said. They had some faxes. The mistake was not checking out the facts before going public. She seems to think the mistake was not standing up to the bloggers.

I wonder if she is taking natural drugs she heard about over the internet thinking she now has the body of an eighteen-year-old girl. I get stuff all the time advising me how I could stay stiff and please all manner of women if I would just click on their site. I'm sure there are plenty of women that will testify no matter how much e-mail like this I get, it still will never happen. It will never be true.

If I’m sure of one thing it’s that there has always been home cooking in the National Guard – always has been and maybe always should be – so the gist of her story is correct. The son of a major politician, especially the son of a senator or house member, but also the sons of local or state politician – remember the home cooking remark – will always get special treatment in the Guard. (This is a different kind of affirmative action.) Maybe that’s her problem: She knows she was right, but she can’t prove it.

I think she is operating under the old paradigm. She did not realize things had changed. She thought she could spew the same old story with the unattributable source and think it would be taken without question. From the Kurtz story, I learned that the CBS internal investigation came to the conclusion of shoddy journalism.

But she will have none of that, she blames her fellow MSM members for not standing with her against the attacking blogs. Well I’m sorry Ms. Mapes, Mr. Blog isn’t going to stand for it any more. Mr. Blog is going to go over to the window, open it up, stick his head out and yell: “I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!”

Only Mr. Blog is not only going to the window to do his yelling.

Blogs are the best thing to happen to journalism since the First Amendment.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

For the not so little people...

I like to thank the not so little people that made all this possible

George Bush and his Necon foreign policy experts should be recognized in Mohamed ElBaradei’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Bushies gave proof to his and his organizations efforts. Obtaining proof in this arena is no small accomplishment.

We can only wonder if The International Atomic Energy Agency’s effectiveness in regards to Iran, North Korea, or other countries trying to obtain nuclear weapons. After the euphoria over the thaw of the Cold War, I do not wish to return to the shelters, to duck and cover, don’t be a “pinko”, you with us or agin’ us life. Am I only to trade a fear of all out annihilation for one a random individual tragedy?

You know it’s gonna happen. Somewhere, somehow, somebody or some group is going to set off nuclear weapon. Of course, this come from someone who grew up during the height of the Cold War and always thought, when I was young, that one day me and everybody else in the world would have to go through a nuclear war. It hasn’t happened yet and is certainly looks like the threat of an all out nuclear exchange between nations is relatively remote for now, so I should be thankful for that.

The current nuclear threat is more a tool of terror than that of annihilation. Proximity and drift footprint are of importance here. In the previous threat, the realization of nuclear winter pretty much seal everyone’s fate to something less than wining the lottery.

But I’m being dog poop at a garden party. This is a celebration of the Nobel Peace Prize. For once, we have irrefutable proof that the sanctions do work. A country under the controlled of one man can be made to undo what he had previously done and not do it or anything like it again. And we own all our thanks to George Bush.

I was as surprised as everyone – excluding those few knowledgeable spies and professional analyzers in the CIA and State Department to whom the Necons refuse to listen – when no WMD’s were found. Saddam had them. We all saw the dead bodies of people he had gassed on TV. (Was this another scam of that despicable (liberal) MSM. First, they fake the moon landing, and now, this. It’s just this sort of thing that will put an end to America as we know it. They should be taken off the air, and we just get our news from Pat Robinson and Rush Limbaugh.)

As much as the right likes to criticize the UN and the scandal of Oil for Food program, we all have to admit that in regards to Saddam and Iraq, the sanctions were doing what they were intended to do: prevent Saddam from developing WMD’s, especially nuclear weapons.

While the Nobel people may have given the Peace Prize as a political statement against George Bush, they owe him a debt of gratitude for showing what an excellent job the IAEA was doing. Let us hope its effectiveness will continue into the future.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Intelligent Design in Evolution

The DNA molecule. Once this molecule is present on the earth, nothing more needs to be done for all the speciation we now see – including ourselves – and see in the fossil we find. It is all within the programming capabilities of the DNA molecule. That’s one intelligent program.

I wish I could design a program only half as good. To design a program that could allow mistakes in the building of programming language and through the power of replication exploit those changes that benefit the program would be one bad assed program.

Computer viruses approach the replication aspect of the DNA molecule, but they do not evolve on their own. I’ve tried writing programs that picked from a library of program’s language randomly, but that never went anywhere – yet.

Of course, the question in the current debate is how did the DNA molecule got here. The Intelligent Design crowd argues that all the complexity of life we see is by intelligent design, but the complexity is within the programming capabilities of the DNA molecule.

They are missing the point. They should be arguing how the DNA molecule got here. For that, science has no answer. The theory of the warm muddy pond is dead. There’s talk of the RNA molecule coming first and certain natural clays aligned in extreme conditions that could give rise to life’s precursor molecules. Just as the scientist and any realist point at the Intelligent Design folks and say to be science your theory must be provable in a controlled test, the generation of life has yet to occur within these same conditions.

Three reasons the generation of life from natural elements has not been discovered are:
1. They are not looking in the right place.
2. They are not looking in the right way
3. Life’s beginning occurred elsewhere and introduced to earth.

One thought that occurred to me uses the principle that higher life forms exploit lower life forms and precursor molecules are being created all the time here on earth and just as quickly consumed by bacteria.

Until science comes up with how life began here on earth, we must suffer the forces for Intelligent Design. Actually, I think they will be around no matter what we discover.

Pray God protect us from faith-based government.