Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Courtroom Drama: Joseph Wilson Liar Case

Bummer is getting a kick out of reading the media reports about the Libby trial. Former NYTimes reporter Judith Miller testified yesterday; today, there will be a showdown: Will the judge allow the defendant to question Miller about her other sources?

The press loves immunity, and they are apoplectic over the idea that any brownshirt federal judge or prosecutor can come between a reporter and his/her "sources." Without absolute immunity (which means, no entity has power to police the relationship), argue the media lawyers, our free press will be permanently damaged in its ability to act as the 4th estate.

This is hyperbolic crap, as I've written about many times. In the instant case, the defandant's lawyer put it perfectly to the judge, in effect stating that reporters should be subject to the same rules as everyone else in society; a press card does not amount to immunity:

Mr. Libby's attorneys were adamant about asking Ms. Miller about other sources. Mr. Jeffress told the judge, "I think she's going to say she couldn't remember which is very important to her credibility."

Theodore V. Wells Jr., one of Mr. Libby’s lawyers, argued that Ms. Miller should be asked the questions so Mr. Libby could have an opportunity to impeach her credibility.

This is nothing more than classic 101 impeachment,” Mr. Wells said. “I don’t think we have a First Amendment collision at this point.”

The specific factual issue upon which Miller was skewered yesterday, was that in earlier grand jury testimony, she did not mention a 2-hour meeting with Libby at a hotel. At this trial, she testified in detail about the meeting.

Classic defense tactic - and likely a direct constutional right of the defendant* - is to have the opportunity to impeach a witness in open court. Should the defendant be denied this 6th Amendment right, in deference to the 1st Amendment mandate of a free press**?

Thugs on trial. Love it.

* - The 6th Amendment provides: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."

** - The 1st Amendment provides: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Subliminal Ads

I remember as a kid, reading the book about subliminal advertising, as if it were a porn magazine.
The tricks of the 60's and 70's seem so innocent now.

Cf., the task of creating an ad for Mystery Shoppers.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Citizen Non-Soldier To Remain Citizen

Unable to overcome pervasive public distaste for his empty smugness, and knowing that his dishonorable discharge would again surface, John Kerry accepts his obvious fate and bows out of the '08 race.

nb: Looking back, Bush has blown it. Wartime popularity, and a massively popular issue (non-fossil-based fuel) could have made him untouchable. He blew it.

Similarly, Kerry blew it. When he ran, the war was unpopular and those "Gore issues" regarding the environment were there for the picking. Instead, people had a visceral dislike of Kerry. He blew it.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Butterfly Joke

I've spent several hours on this thing. Laugh, fools:

Following the downing of an airliner carrying a UN delegation, Heaven was already bursting at the seams. Only 5 places remained in Heaven for the 6 victims of the crash. One would be banished to Hell.

The 6 unfortunate UN diplomats at the Gates pled with St. Peter to be admitted, but it was just an ugly cacophony from the quarreling American, Frenchman, Italian, Spaniard, Portuguese and German diplomats.

Finally, St. Peter had heard enough of the ruckus, just as a beautiful colored moth fluttered by. St. Peter shouted, "Enough of this noise!" Admiring the moth, he said, "I will admit only those five souls who exhibit their cultural superiority by the voicing of simple poetry about this most delicate creature of God."

So the American went first. "Your holiness, that creature is known to us as the gentle 'Butterfly.' " And as the words fell on St. Peter's ears, he smiled at the juxaposition of the soft nouns and hard consonants, weaving its sonic beauty.

The Portuguese followed, in a soft voice matched to the syllables he spoke: "Most holy Peter, the gentle flutter is that of the 'Borboleta' to my people." And St. Peter seemed to nod off in a five hundred year-old trance, as if he had visited the wharf of the great sailing ships on a spring day, nodding at the beauty of the image rendered by the language.

The Italian was next: "Mi papa, in Roma at the base of the Vatican ramparts, for centuries we have spoken of this most dainty creature as the 'Farfalla.' " And St. Peter began softly humming some Verde opera as he closed his eyes to the joy his ears heard.

The Frenchman was next, in a breathy whisper: "Most Honored Father, in ze fields outside of Paris, for two thousand years the children of the parish have chased this little bird with lacy fabric nets worthy of his Holiness, this gentle creature we call ze 'Papillon.' " St. Peter, now almost trance-like, smiled and nodded, "Oui, mon ami."

The Spaniard spoke next, in a faint confession: "Father, I can offer only this: 'Mariposa.' " And St. Peter, speechless, could only tremble at the beautiful sound.

"What, this damned Schmetterling is sending me to Hell?" demanded the German.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Baseball, George and Stuff

Some guys just got inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame ... which reminds Bummer of 1980. Bummer had never seen a professional baseball game. Perchance, in August 1980, BummerDad took Bummer on a business trip to Kansas City.

BummerDad's group had a bloc of Kansas City Royals tickets. That week, the Kansas City Royals were playing an at-home 3-game stand against the Toronto Blue Jays. A slugger by the name of George Brett had been on a hot streak the weeks before. In the first two games of the match-up, Brett went 4-for-8, including 3 home runs.

Bummer's first professional baseball game was at the Royals Stadium in Kansas City, watching the 3rd game of that series, on August 17, 1980. That game, George Brett went 4-for-4, including one homer. At the end of the game, his batting average was .401. It rose to .407 a few weeks later before coming back down to earth in the high .390's.

Anyway, thank you, Mr. Brett. What an introduction to the game.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

"It Sounds Uncommon Nonsense"

The Mock Turtle said:

"I never heard it before, but it sounds uncommon nonsense."

Sorta like the plan to provide Social Security to illegals.:

An agreement the Bush administration reached with Mexico on Social Security benefits would allow illegal aliens granted amnesty in the future to claim credit for the time they worked illegally.

The deal was reached in 2004 but never released publicly because it hasn't been submitted to Congress. The TREA Senior Citizens League, a Social Security advocacy group, recently obtained the document through a Freedom of Information Act, and said it confirms the group's worst fears.

The document is a jumble of definitions and legal language, but a spokesman for the group said what's important is what's not in the text: It does nothing to prevent undocumented aliens who later get legal status from receiving benefits for the time they worked illegally. And that comes as the Social Security system's finances are about to be put under greater strain by the retirement of baby boomers.

Forgive Bummer for this little stroll down the lane:

2008: Children under 18 are exempted and entitled to full benefits, regardless of status.
2009: The payments can be transferred to Mexico without the 35% backup withholding tax that everyone else pays.
2010: Famaily members have standing to seek the payments for deceased relatives.
2010: Class action suit on behalf of all illegals to get the payment.
2011: All illegals get Social Security, as it is ruled discriminatory to have welfare programs distinguish between legals and illegals.
2013: Social Security and Medicare announce that the programs will run out of money in 2018, instead of the previously predicted 2042.
2014: Cross-border transfers of SSN benefits to Mexico surpass $100 billion annually.
2015: The US declares that all SSN and Medicare payments shall be in scrip, rather than US dollars.
2015: Mexicans are exempted from the scrip rule. Mexicans then get paid in US dollars; US citizens get "scrip." Scrip trades on the world exchanges at 46% of a dollar.
2016: World markets abandon the US dollar based upon rampant inflation against the plummeting dollar.
2017: US citizens come to the sad conclusion -- long known to many -- that the Social Security and Medicare systems are bankrupt.
2018: Constitutional Conventions are called by many midwestern states, furious with the collapse. Coastal states and the US Congress take offense and passes stopgap measures, to no avail.
2019: The US agrees to merge its currency with 6 other countries, along with a unitary tax system.
2020: US retirees who paid into SSN and Medicare are now treated pari passu with Mexican peasants as far as doling out retirement benefits. The $125 per month stipend -- 1/50th of the benefit that had been forecast when the US worker paid into the system -- is paid in Mexiscrip, sorta like a bus token, redeemable like a coupon in long lines.
2021: etc.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

2006 Idiot and Anti-Idiot

LGF announces the recipients:

Monday, January 01, 2007

RIP: UFO Sightings. b. 1946, d. 2006

Say goodbye to 60 years of post-war UFO sightings. The pop/cult phenomena has run its course. Done. Stick a fork in it.

Reaching its cynosure in 1977 with Spielberg "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," somewhat paralleling the nature of religious faith -- that is, "belief" where there is no proof -- the church continued into the digital age with runaway TV hit, The X-Files.

Skeptics longs knew (scratch that ... long suspected) that the very nature of UFO sightings -- always occurring away from urban areas, with little or no evidence to back the sighting other than the pleading "eyewitness" testimony of some person, which was always somewhat spottily reported, was the giveaway. As the world grew smaller and technology advanced, the law of random outcomes dictated that -- statistically -- a UFO craft would be verified by oh, say, a real photograph, or a landing, etc., given the hundreds and thousands of UFO sightings, visits and even abductions that purportedly were occurring.

Enter the twain phenomena of: (a) digital and cellphone cameras, and (b)

The ubiquitous nature of cellphone and digital cameras makes for nary a situation where one is not at hand to record an event. Including a UFO sighting. As the world savvies-up, the obvious lack of a digital snapshot by an "eyewitness" (coupled with a society far more willing to acknowledge that many people get whacked on drugs and booze) belies the fakery.

That, coupled with the immediacy of YouTube and so many other sites, by which interesting and unusual video is immediately uploaded for worldwide viewing -- and debunking.

Query: If in 1977, the "Dick Tracy" digital world of 2006 were described to you, wouldn't you think that one of the most popular pictures/files being exchanges would be ... UFO pictures taken by the wallet-sized camera that every teenager carries? Of course you would.

And of course it doesn't happen, because UFOs don't exist.

In this undated photograph, a wide f-stop is used by teenaged boys making a crank picture, to create a photo that makes far away objects as well as near ones both appear in focus. A circular Frisbee-like ring is tossed across the photo frame, near to the photographer and high in the viewfinder. Despite its obvious staging, this and thousands like it were considered "evidence" to a large group of enthusiasts, of alien civilizations making clandestine visits to the Earth. Stories also tended to make girls scared, and thus with a little alcohol, they could be hit upon. These UFO enthusiasts also tended to strongly consider the breakfast cereal known as "Cocoa Puffs" to be health food. Other than the grunion time of late-night a.m. talk radio, when these enthusiasts are at work as security guards and have time to call d.j.'s who encourage speculation as to the veracity of such photos as a way of selling ears to advertisers, the UFO enthusiasts saw a massive reduction in their population in the year 2006.