Friday, January 06, 2006

But he's not an intern!

Mark Shields turned a memorable phrase around tonight (1/6/06) on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer about L'affaire Abramoff. Bush and The Republicans, that sleazy bar band from the turn of the century, are scrambling to give away money tainted with the Abramoff stink:
Jim Lehrer: There's a list in the Daily Hotline of about, I don't know, a hundred members of congress who gave money back, too.

Shields: That's right. But - they all seem to be reminiscent of a former predecessor of Bush's in the White house who denied an illicit relationship with a White House intern, very emphatically. They all seem to be saying, "I did not have political relations with that man, Jack Abramoff.

Bright Light in Winter

I noticed a bright light outside my window today.  I'm told it's something called "sunlight" and that it makes things warm.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Religiously Correct

I remember when the term "politically correct" was used as irony. That lasted about a year, and then the term became an accusation or club against people speaking out against injustice, or in Bill O'Reilly's view as expressed on The Late Show with David Letterman, trying to "erode traditions."

I think we need a foil for the club. How does "religiously correct" sound?

Update: This is what I had to say about the show.

Liberal Media Bias

I'll take "Liberal Media Bias" over "Conservative Bullcrap Lies" any day.

Bias implies a point of view, which is just fine in my book.

Lies are lies and have no place in legitimate media.

O'Reilly on Letterman

Bill O'Reilly was on Letterman last night. I was worried that Dave would be excessively nice, as he has become very respectful of his guests in the last few years.

I need not have worried. Dave was respectfully disbelieving of the debunked "anti-Christmas" episodes that O'Reilly offered up. He really had only two, and then claimed that Cindy Sheehan was explicitly supporting terrorists.

Finally, Letterman said, "I have the feeling that 60% of what you say is crap."

Personally, I think that's low. 95% might be closer. That leaves him with "hello" and "goodbye."

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

L'affaire Abramoff and the Balance of Power

Talking Points Memo takes up a reader letter comparing Abscam to the l'affaire Abramoff.
There is a lesson to be learned from the "Abscam" investigations that should be applied to ... "The Abramoff Matter." (hereafter TAM). That lesson is that TAM exceeds the scope of the legal system and, specifically, the Justice Department. ... "Abscam" was a DOJ sting operation that offered bribes to congressmen. It turned out that it was a very successful sting and several members of Congress were prosecuted. But then the operation was terminated although ... there were more opportunities for success. ... DOJ determined that if they did continue then what began as a law enforcement project could alter the political balance within the Legislative branch. The DOJ decided ... that it was not their place to fundamentally alter that political balance.

And so it will be with TAM. At some point TAM will become a potent enough matter to be profoundly political in nature and those involved in the legal system will have to withdraw. To do otherwise would be to improperly engage the legal system in a political contest and undermine the foundational premise of an independent judiciary. This is the tightrope that Fitzgerald is walking in the Plame matter. So long as he is pursuing the violation of a particular Federal statute he is on solid ground. But were he to find himself standing on the threshold of something that, if pursued, could alter the political balance of power then he would have to retreat. ...

I disagree. Abscam was a sting. It is arguable whether the congressmen would have committed crimes without the opportunity provided by the sting. I think the DOJ finally realized that, and chose not to corrupt more and more congressmen by continuing it.

L'affaire Abramoff is discovery of committed crimes, involving a lobbyist who has admitted committing crimes all on his own, with the participation, apparently, of at least one congressman.

TPM's letter writer is wrong about there being a limit to how far the DOJ should go. Under that reasoning, suppose that the DOJ finds that laws were broken that enabled the Republicans to grasp more political power than they would have gained had they obeyed the law. Prosecuting those crimes might "alter the political balance of power" - back to where it "should" be. So the DOJ should back out of it?

That's nuts. Follow it to it's logical conclusion, and you have a dictatorship.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

What's That Smell?

I have a photo posted in my cubicle - alas, I work in a cubicle, but at least I have a window - a photo probably taken in the 1930's, of a coal miner, with a bird in a cage. I consider that a photo of my alter ego. The canary, not the miner. As you all undoubtedly know, canaries were used in coal mines to detect bad air. You see, I am quite sensitive to odors, especially chemical or perfume. Bad smells in the office seem to bother me more than anyone else. One source of smells is a garage below the office, but one office denizen carries the smell of cigarette smoke around with him, and I have had to set up a fan to blow his ... aroma ... away.

I can't find any reference to the ban on perfumes in theaters of which a friend speaks, but I do recall hearing something about it. It may be an excessive reaction if it is a no-tolerance policy. However, I think there is a chemical difference between body odor and perfume odor, not that I find either pleasant. A little bit of scent is one thing, but some people seem to bathe in the stuff, and when you can smell them coming a mile away, that's worth banning. And perhaps theaters would be justified in ejecting people with excessive body odor. That one might be for a court to decide.

Some people are desensitized to what others consider "bad" smells. The smokers and former smokers in my office don't seem to notice odors as readily as I do. Presumably they killed off their sense of smell with smoke.

I do find it unfortunate that people who raise objections to indoor smoking (before it was driven outside where it belongs) and excessive perfume are made the subject of ridicule. It's disturbing that some people cannot understand, or pretend not to understand, that chemical vapors in the air we breathe is a problem.

So give the canaries a break, or at least a little understanding.