Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Honor and Public Service

I was struck this week with the juxtaposition of several news stories that highlight the loss of accountability and even more importantly personal "honor" in the conduct of domestic politics. Consider this: In Japan, a cabinet minister and associate snared in scandal actully committed suicide rather than face the shame associated with the widening corruption probes. They also checked-out to take "responsibility" for their errors and practices. What a concept. In China, which is also struggling with corruption at every level, the head of the country's equivalent to the FDA was recently sentenced to death for allowing counterfeit, killer medicines into the domestic and foreign distribution channel. Now that's accountability. Big Pharma take note.

Contrast that to the current American administration which has lost control of the food supply in this country and squandered our good name and reputation worldwide. An administration that refuses to accept accountability for anything while wallowing in corruption, political dirty tricks, secrecy and failure. An administration that is so very obviously intent on circumventing the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, and the wishes of its citizens. Witness the President's recent interpretation of the last election. According to Bush, the thrashing his party and positions took last November were a clear message that we need to send MORE troops to die babysitting a dysfunctional government involved in a bloody civil war. How clueless is that?

And Alberto Gonzales is the poster child for the loss of honor in government. I've posted about Gonzales before, calling for his resignation for derelection of duty, obstruction of Congress and politicizing the Justice Department. For an update on the Impeach Gonzales effort and a look at Robert Greenwald's newest video on the subject from Brave New Films, click here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Diary

There is a lot to remember on this holiday. As a product of the Viet Nam era, I am constantly reminded of the potentials of war gone bad. But rather than dwell on a potentially divisive issue on this day (I'll leave that for another post), I'd like to offer some numbers for your reflection. Warriors die in wars. An axiom, that. But so do the innocent, many children. So consider this:

War has claimed the lives of 2 million
children in the past ten years.

Today, about 20 million children have been forced to leave their homes and communities because of war.

Landmines, one for every 29 children around the globe, remain ready to claim their next victim.

Speaking about war zones check out this article in the U.K.'s Guardian News for a great analysis of the recent U.S. - Iran talks about Iraqi security.

On the technology front, I am intrigued by the news that Facebook has opened its API, creating an open platform for third-party applications. Everybody's Widgit will work on Facebook. I am quite impressed, as this is so NOT MySpace philosophy or behavior. Kudos to the Facebook team for having the good sense and the cojones to take this stand. Now if someone will just hand me a ready-made app to mine political data and trends from the social network space, make that a dashboard with multiple functionalities, I'll be ready to rumble.

For a real political rumble, check out this very gratifying video of former Presidential aide extraordinaire, Andrew Card being BOOed at the UMASS commencement - where he was awarded an honorary degree. This is just wonderful footage of popular outrage. Gotta love it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spring Break is Over Redux

After a long absence for Spring Break, bloggers block, some real work, and a dust-up over an electronic system error with the Oregon Department of Revenue around state taxes, I am finally back at it. Apologies for my absence. Spring chores got ahead of us this season, and my tractor broke down twice making matters worse.

Regular readers will note that I've added a "Help Russ Stop the War" widget to my permanent sidebar. I'm giving up on my self-imposed restriction against being too political. There's just so much at stake. So no rants, just a new widget and some upcoming articles around sensitive issues. Be ready.

My friend and colleague, Don Roberto, forwarded this link with the caption: The video that had to be made. So have a laugh at Alberto's expense. I'll be back soon with the finished versions of some long-simmering articles; including, a look at ethnic music in Spain, from Flamenco, through the Basque country to the Celtic sounds of Galicia. Spain has so much going on, it's hard to resist.