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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Catching Up Is Hard To Do: The news

I spent six of the first 12 days of this month at two different conferences. While I enjoyed them, it inevitably disrupts the daily rhythm. For instance, I miss news stories, or else, I hear them piecemeal.

One example: the death of Floyd Patterson. He was the first boxer I could identify by name. Additionally, this resonated for me because he was living in my old college town of New Paltz for years and because, like my father, he died from prostate cancer.
Someone asked me one day last week what I thought of the NSA domestic spying. Ever eloquent, I said, "Huh?" Then it was explained to me. Truth is, it didn't surprise me all that much. Nor did it surprise me that 2/3s of the American people, according to some poll, thought domestic spying was a good idea. I figure they just didn't understand the implications, that the spying could be on them.
But then, there was a follow-up question in which 2/3s of Americans wouldn't mind if their own phone calls were intercepted.
Do they really want other people to know about that a cyst they had that was found to be malignant, or the bill they didn't pay because they were a little short? (I was going to write something about a married couple having bicoastal phone "relations", but didn't want to offend anyone's sensibilities.)

Someone at one of the conferences told me that Americans were sheep. The context was Iraq. I was willing to play devil's advocate about people being fooled by misleading/false information from their government. But this one? Bah! Or Baa.

Or am I missing some nuance of this story, besides the "don't leak our secrets" argument?
Albany County district attorney David Soares made headlines when he described the failed U.S. drug policy at a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He was criticized locally by the mayor and the police union for suggesting that the police were overpaid. But Soares, who took on the Democratic machine and won what many thought was a surprising victory in 2004 had his supporters as well. He apologized for parts of his remarks, but stands by his main point, opposition to the arcane enforcement such as theRockefeller drug laws. (I suppose I should note here that I made a few phone calls on his behalf during the primary campaign, which, in Albany, is generally tantamount to election.)
I'm troubled. At least some of what the President of Iran said, that 18-page letter generally described as "rambling", as though that were a bad thing - look at the name of this blog - made some sense to me.
Katie Couric, anchor of the CBS Evening News - seems like a lot of money that won't translate into better ratings. In fact, the ratings went up when Bob Schieffer "temporarily" replaced Dan Rather for 14 months
Meredith Viera, new co-host of the Today show - good for her. I liked her going back to her 60 Minutes days.
Rosie O'Donnell, new co-host of The View - don't care. Saw some AOL thing about whether the couch will be big enough for her and Star Jones.
Spanish language national anthem - don't care. Don't think it is a substantive issue. Besides, as Greg points out, almost nobody knows the lyrics in English anyway.
Rush Limbaugh - the fact that he turned himself in to be arrested means he was arrested; that's not liberal press bias. His sentence seemed reasonable to me - hope others with his problem but without Roy Black as their lawyer get similar treatment.


English Professor said...

Well, you know the saying that people who would sacrifice freedom for safety deserve neither--perhaps that note should be telephoned to all those who think gathering phone records is just dandy.

Maybe this is a symptom of our tell-all society: since it's now cool to have your cell phone conversations in public and tell your inner-most secrets to Jerry Springer, why not share the love with Uncle Sam, as well?

Scott said...

I understand that you have to give up some things for freedom, but that is going over the line and only going to lead to more trouble (my opinion).

As for the national anthem, I like the idea some have said of changing it to "God Bless America". "The Star Spangled Banner" is about a war we fought almost 200 years ago with a country that we now include as one of our closest allies. It's time to change. Look at "O Canada". It is a far better song and says more about the country and it's people. Now we just need to get hockey fans in the US to stop booing the playing of it when their team plays a Canadian team.

Roger Owen Green said...

You probably know that the music to the Star Spangled Banner was an old drinking song. And even as a kid, I was always troubled by the fourth verse:
O thus be it ever,
When free men shall stand
Between their loved homes
And the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace,
May the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made
And preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must,
When our cause it is just,
And this be our motto,
"In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner
In triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave.

I was reminded of this in a wire service article that appeared in my Sunday paper about militarism and adventurism, citing James K. Polk's adventures in Mexico (we're not imperialists; we're liberators) with W and Iraq.

My preference for the anthem, BTW, is America, the Beautiful: America! America! God mend thine every flaw.