My what an interesting week so far

So much frivolous crap to get through so far.  We got political fireworks, NY style, nut jobs in the city (no it’s no Bloomberg), militant Frenchmen (apparently they still exist), college students with little common sense, and all sorts of other time wasting “news.”

So let’s get to the “big story.”  Mahmoud Amadenijad was in NYC to address the UN General Assembly.  Oh, and that little speaking engagement at Columbia University.  What a joke that circus was.  But before he even arrived here, President Tom, as Glenn Beck calls him, was making noises about visiting Ground Zero.  I was tempted to say let him visit, but only if he walks from his hotel to the site.  Now that would have been an entertaining “reality show.”  However, cooler heads prevailed, and the authorities wisely declined to allow him to do so.

So, we have the fiasco at Columbia, and it was a fiasco.  First we have Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia backing up a temporary Dean, who had defended the invite with such idiotic statements as “I’d have invited Hitler.”  Lovely.  Bollinger then tries to salvage his image by attacking President Tom in his opening remarks.  As far as attacks go, this one was pretty tepid, and hardly effected the “guest of honor” in any appreciable way.

So the Tom gets to speak.  The usual rhetoric and denials ensue, as well as a few words of support for some of the more outlandish conspiracy theories out there.  About the only thing he didn’t do was quote from the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” but I’m sure he has a copy of that bit of trash in his “library.”  Then, what should have been the fun and entertaining portion of this production, the Q&A part, gets cut short due to “scheduling issues.”  Uh-huh.  Sure it was.  He failed to answer any question, and ducked out when it got too hot for him.

So then it was on to the UN.  If you ever wondered what an Islamic fundamentalist TV preacher looked or sounded like, watch President Tom’s speach to the UN.  He rambled all over the place, bouncing from slamming the USA to quoting scriptures to “science” to this that and the other thing.  It was like watching an uncharismatic, Islamic version of Jim Baker.  All he needed was Tammy Faye in a burkha.  This guy is nuts.  He’s not dangerous, as I believe that even the Grand Council of Ayatollahs think he’s a loose cannon.  So, when the next elections come, fully expect him to be ousted.

A last note on this debacle.  All the media are focusing on how the US delegation’s seats were empty, except for a lone female note taker.  I’m kinda hoping she was a lesbian, just to add insult to insult to Amadenijad.  But there were many others who declined to sit for his ramblings, and some who left during his little talk.  I don’t have a full list, but I did see that Latvia’s seats were growing cold, and even the French delegation was a few bodies short.  Oh, and the Seychelles had one guy there, who I swear fell asleep sometime in the middle of the rant.

Moving on, it seems that the new French President, Nikolas Sarkozy, is feeling his oats.  First he threatens Iran with potential military action (bet that scared the Democrats!), and then goes and gets the Germans to push for tougher sanctions.  I doubt Putin will back Iran in this instance, more likely to try and grab the Northern areas around Tabriz to help shore up the Russian economy.  In addition, Sarkozy is also making some moves, quietly, to try and curb Arab immigration from trouble spots like Algeria and Lebanon.  I doubt that will go too far, but he can always use Jean Marie LePen as his scape goat.  LePen is good for that (if not much else).

Meanwhile, back in the good ole US of A, we have idiots galore.  First there was the smear campaign against Gen. Petreaus.   Which of course was subsidized by and the NY Times.  It was furthered by Hillary Clinton, who continued in the same vein, but in more diplomatic terms in her opening statement in the hearings.  Somehow, she expects to become CinC, that is the President, and have the military follow her orders, yet cuts down the very people who would execute those orders.  Not smart Ice Queen.

Then we’ve got idiot students, in college no less, whose obvious lack of common sense has hurt themselves.  There was the goofball in Florida who got tasered during a speach by John Kerry.  Funny really, as it was John Kerry speaking, and this eejit was a Kerry supporter.  Still, he deserved what he got, as he should have known what would happen.

Then there’s the bozo in Colorado and his four word “editorial” using a four letter word.  For some reason, he thought there would be no consequencs for his actions.  A student petition to force his resignation is already being readied for presentation, advertisers in the paper are pulling out, and the University has a PR nightmare to deal with.  Good going dunder head, never had a thought about “collateral damage” did ya?  What’s worse is that there are people already trying to take political advantage of this, not for purposes of defending free speach, but to hijack it for other purposes.  It’s a sad statement not only about the state of “higher education” in this country, but as a society as a whole.

Now there’s the ongoing saga of a bully-boy governor and his cronies trying to take out a political rival.  Yes, I speak of Eliot Spitzer and Troopergate.  This one is not going to just go away as so many Democrats would like.  Opinion polls clearly indicate that the people of the State of New York, to the tune of 70%, want the Guv and his cohorts to testify under oath on the scandal, something that only the State Senate’s Investigative Committee is doing by issuing subpoenas.  The AG didn’t do it, the IG surely wasn’t going to do it, and Albany DA David Soares was pressured (as reported in the NY Post, NY Daily News, and Schenectady Gazette) into not doing so, the State Ethics Commission (recently packed with Spitzer partisans) is unlikely to do so.  I even doubt the State Senate would have, had the acting Superintendent of the State Police not refused to testify.

A bit more on the David Soares issue.  It seems (from the same reports cited earlier), that not only did the Guv put pressure on Soares not to put his underlings under oath, but also pressured Soares’ office to rush the report out the door.  To be fair, Soares’ Public Integrity Unit is understaffed and over worked, and thus is very vulnerable to outside pressure.  Still, the 80 page report was shoddy at best, and disgraceful at worst.  It parroted a lot of the AG’s report, but absolved all of the Guv’s hirelings of any worngdoing, criminal or ethical.  Compared to the AG’s report, which cited ethical violations, but no criminal ones.  Can you say “whitewash” boys and girls?  I knew you could.

But wait, there’s more!  The Senate minority leader, Malcolm Smith just had to stoke the fires a bit.  I’m sure he’ll get a call from Eliot about his grandstanding.  You see, Malcolm Smith is an ambitious man.  He wants to control the State Senate (unlikely), and be one of the top dawgs in the State.  And he came across as exactly that in his press conference.  First he attacks Joe Bruno and the Senate Investigation, which would have been fine, except he couldn’t leave it at that.  Instead, he just had to pipe up and say that if Joe couldn’t “do the business of the state” then he would be happy to take control and do so.  Uh-huh, sure thing Malcolm.  I’m quite sure that your little display of peacock feathers will earn you a “just shut up” call from Eliot and Shelly Silver. 

On a more “philosophical and intellectual” note (HA!), there were two interesting articles in last weeks Irish Echo (vol 80 no 38).  First off is one on the future plans of Fianna Fail, the leading Irish political party at the moment.  It seems that FF is now planning on conducting political operations in the Six Counties of Northern Ireland, in a likely partnership with the SDLP.  This would make them the second party with operations in all 32 counties, matching Sinn Fein.  That is if Bertie Ahern can weather another money scandal.  Still, I find it to be an indicator of things to come.  If Fianna Fail is seeing a real opportunity in the Six, and wants to genuinely be an all Ireland party, then the future may held hold a full reconcilliation of the island, as well as a full reunification.

The other article was bit more thought provoking.  Larry Kirwan (Black47), has taken up his word processor for some commentaries for the Echo.  This time around, he speaks of geography and history, how the two go hand in hand, and the lack of knowledge of either, not only in the USA (where it’s most glaring), but around the world as well. 

It is true that some 60% of Americans can’t find Iraq on a blank map.  Even though it’s on TV every night.  They also have little clue about what happened 10 years ago, let alone the full history of the region, or even their own country.  Kirwan correctly points out that geography and history go together.  One should inevitably lead to the other.  On this, I am in full agreement with Larry, but I find his other conclusions to be faulty.

I don’t always agree with Larry.  In fact it is rare when I do so, at least when it comes to politics.  He seems to be of the opinion that more knowledge of geography and history would have somehow prevented the current war in Iraq, and somehow prevent a potential war with Iran (gotta calm those French down!).  I must disagree with this assessment.  I would say that is because of history that we must continue in Iraq.  While what Kirwan says sounds good in a 750 word op-ed piece, and makes for a good sound bite on TV or Radio, it is hardly a solid and cogent assessment. 

That region has been dominated by one empire or another since the Biblical days.  Be it Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, Assyrians, Mongols, Ottomans, Hittites, or British, they have all had their turn at the wheel.  The region has also been home to various ethnic struggles, often resulting in mass exoduses or executions.  This too has been going on since the Biblical era. 

Kirwan suggests that we could have just let the change come “organically” from with in.  While this can, and I believe will happen in Iran, it was not going to happen in Iraq.  You see, Kirwan ignores his history here.  Saddam was paranoid, to a Stalinist extreme.  The difference between Uncle Joe and Saddam was that Saddam didn’t care how useful you were.  If you were a potential threat to his power, or could become one, he had you killed.  Didn’t much matter who you were, or where you were from, though if you were Shi’a or Kurdish, your family went with you.  This effectively killed any sort of domestic leadership other than Saddam from emerging.  We waited 12 years for someone to emerge as a potential replacement.  It didn’t happen.  Instead we got the very real, and highly probable outcome that when Saddam went, his two psycho sons would vie for control of the country.  Neither of these two nit wits were capable of leading lemmings off a cliff, so it would have devolved into a genuine civil war (what we have now is far from being a civil war).  We would have been forced to intervene, if only to try and contain the conflict so it did not draw in Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran into a larger conflict.  No, in my opinion, it was best that we went in before that happened, where we would have some degree of control over the outcome.

“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  So is a lot.” – Albert Einstein


4 thoughts on “My what an interesting week so far

  1. Sure, everyone can agree that freedom of speech is a good thing. It’s great! But when people think that they’re being forced to extend this right to dictators with well documented pasts of committing crimes against humanity, their feelings can quickly change.

    The college president, Lee Bollinger prefaced Ahmadinejad by saying, “It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices.” He also cited the quotable expression about how free speech is “an experiment, as all life is an experiment.” and apologized in advance for any suffering that giving this speaker a public forum would cause.

    Before turning to Ahmadinejad he finished on the subject, “In the moment, the arguments for free speech will never seem to match the power of the arguments against, but what we must remember is that this is precisely because free speech asks us to exercise extraordinary self-restraint against the very natural but often counterproductive impulses that lead us to retreat from engagement with ideas we dislike and fear. In this lies the genius of the American idea of free speech.” Bollinger furthered the introduction by condemning the government of Iran for unjust imprisonment, public executions, and other violations of human rights.

    I think that the subject of free speech can transcend politics. I think that debate in all forms is usually a good thing and I really think that Columbia’s prez eloquently expressed this–His thoughts on freedom of speech were the best I’ve ever heard in my life.
    The Bliggity No Diggity Blog-a-Log

  2. While in essence I agree, in practical terms I disagree. Yes, free speach is wonderful and all, and open and honest debate is a good thing. However, in the case of Columbia U and Lee Bollinger, this was never properly or clearly expressed prior to the firestorm over the invite. He waited until it was too late to get that message out, instead allowing a bunch of stupid statements to come out and be blasted all over the media. Had he used his opening remarks with the initial release of the invite, he and the University could have been spared a great deal of bad publicity.

  3. Pingback: Public Relations Nightmares » Blog Archive » My what an interesting week so far

  4. Yes, it has certailny been quite a week… What’s even more alarming is that I have a sneaking suspicion that things are going to get worse before they get better. As far as the course we are currently headed down recently, it seems that each week is more alarming than the last. While sometimes good things come, the vast majority are things that force my blood pressure to creep up just a little bit more.

    And a certailny agree with you that the Columbia fiasco could have been largely avoided had there been more honesty about intentions. Furthermore, I think Bollinger made himself out to be a jackass in the name of the first amendment which was a huge mistake and as far as I am concerned gave free speech a black eye. My new catch phrase lately has been “should I?” when referring to free speech. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Inviting a world leader to speak at your school and then slamming him was an utter embarrassment in more ways than one.

    And as for the guy in Colorado… There is such a thing as going too far, and he not only crossed that line, he turned around and gave it the finger and kept right on going. He deserves whatever he has coming to him.

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