It’s elementary, my dear Watson. It is the staple of Stage Magic. A Magician deflects your attention with his left hand while his right sets up his trick. The same basic technique is used by politicians. The heat is intensifying over the issue of torture and the Bush Administration is in the crossfire, but although President Obama is at the heart of the disclosures, his popularity is too high (and the Republicans popularity too low) to take a chance on using the President for the deflection. So what to do?
The problem: deflecting the heat from any possible public outrage at a Republican administration which threw centuries of tradition to the winds in their attempt to make torture legal, primarily as a tool to extract information in hopes of linking Al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein and thereby justify their senseless invasion of Iraq, a link that didn’t exist by the way. What to do? Why deflect the attention being given torture to their ranking favorite villain, Nancy Pelosi. Let the accusations fly. When did she know? And if she didn’t, why didn’t she know? As if her knowing or not knowing made a damn bit of difference to the prisoners being waterboarded.
And damned if their deflection doesn’t seem to be working? At least at this moment. Even Leon Panetta, Obama’s newly appointed head of the CIA, is getting into the act, piping up with a memo to the CIA claiming that the CIA doesn’t lie to Congress. Wouldn’t dream of it? It seems the poor CIA has a morale problem, and Leon wrote that to cheer them up. But seriously, show me a spy agency which doesn’t lie to Congress and to the world, and Little Eddy will knight you.
However Republican political piranhas are smelling blood. Even formerly disgraced ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich is throwing his 2 cents worth into the fray, and you will be happy to know that it’s worth every bit of 2 cents. Poor Speaker Pelosi, by being defensive she seems to be playing right into their hands. Ignore them, Madame Speaker. Deflect back at them. It doesn’t mean a damn thing when or if you heard about torture. The fact is that it was the Bush Administration which used torture and tried to justify it using spurious legal fantasizing. It is they who should get any credit or blame that might result.
Beware Republican deflectors, your founding leader had a message for all America when he wrote: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time . . .but . . . you can’t fool all . . .well you know how the rest goes. Honest Abe Lincoln said that. Did that make him the last truly honest Republican politician? What do you think?§
President Obama was the highlight of the White House Corespondents last week, and he proved himself quite the stand up comedian, and we bring you the video proof below. However he was followed by comedienne Wanda Sykes, who among other things, stirred up a certain amount of ire on the part of conservatives and certain of the news media by making note of the fact that Rush Limbaugh has joined Osama Bin Laden in publicly stating a desire to see President Obama fail. How dare this “liberal” comedienne link the Limbaugh name with that of Bin Laden said Fox News. And even CNN posed the question. Of course, Limbaugh seems to have license to broadcast any fiction that crosses his drug inflamed mind, presenting it as news and truth. But no fair anyone else daring to do likewise. That’s a Limbaugh prerogative, and a Big No No for the rest of us!§
President Barack Obama made change the theme of his run for the presidency. And real change has accompanied his presidency like no other administration in recent memory. But speaking of change, what a change unemployment seems to have made in our beloved ex-president of vice, Dick Cheney. I don’t think the man said ten words during the entire eight years he was in office. We didn’t even know where he was half the time, he was the first president of vice to serve most of his term going from one “undisclosed location” to another.
And while at those undisclosed locations he was letting the likes of the late Enron head honcho Ken Lay shape our nation’s energy policy, all the while making sure that not a word leaked out as to his dealings. He even took the matter of protecting his appointment list to the courts, as he continued his refusal to disclose the names of those who were instrumental in shaping the nation’s energy policy. When Hillary Clinton tried to keep the makeup of her Health Care group a secret in the early 90’s, Republicans screamed to high heaven. But in the 2000’s not a peep out of the ruling party over Cheney’s reticence. In Cheney’s view, it was none of the public’s damn business who got to shape the nation’s energy policy.
But talk about change, now that Dick Cheney has finally come out of hiding there seems to be no stopping him. He’s talking 24/7, he’s become his own 24 hour news channel. Free and footloose he is too, he’s freely taking political sides. Words can’t express the true depths of our enthusiasm over this new Dick Cheney. The movement Cheney and Limbaugh are leading is just what the country needs right now, a Republican Party which currently is voiceless, restrictive, directionless, distracted, stuttering in its impotence, the Party of a Thousand Voices Speaking the Only Two Words They Know – Tax Cuts. How could a red bloodied, astute American not support the party of Cheney and Limbaugh? We here at the Little Eddy Blog are proud to be behind them one thousand percent. We wish them all the luck in the world and godspeed on that bumpy highway to oblivion.
Way to go, former vice president Cheney. Form the Cheney/Limbaugh branch of the Republican Party. Make it ideologically pure. Cut out those silly moderate Republicans that Colin Powell represents and who are fast becoming our nation’s newest endangered species, America’s Political Homeless Generation. Show no mercy as you drive them from the party. Make them become either Democrats or Independents. That’ll make them pay for their heresy.
Finally trade Ronald Reagan’s Big Tent in for a Pup Tent. Admit only those who see only one side of a given story, YOUR SIDE. Show any who might see another side a quick exit. Hold up the “Our Way or the Highway!” signs that point to the exit. A new Dixiecrat Republican Party. How Sweet it is!§
President Obama made a real impression at the National Press Club the other night. He would have made a fine stand up comedian if he hadn’t run for, and then gotten elected our president, and thereafter became constantly weighted down with a crush of problems like the nation’s economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention being the recipient of Rush Limbaugh’s best wishes. What was the title President Obama gave to Dick Cheney’s post election memoirs? “How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate Enemies.” This president has a serious comedic bent, and we thought it would be fun and instructive to bring back these National Press Club memories, or if you missed them, present them to you for the first time. Enjoy!§
What would you pick for the greatest faux pas of Obama’s presidency thus far. A lot of us would pick the picture of AF1 flying over our Green Lady of Liberty. See below:
Check it out. Air Force One (at least its called that when it is carrying the President), overflying our Green Lady of Liberty. A beautiful sight, what? Only a couple of things wrong with it. The man who dreamed up this photo op is a military man, and although he notified the City of New York in advance that it was going to happen, he deemed the operation secret and refused to let the City publicize the mission beforehand. And so what do you suppose happened when New York’s financial district looked up in the sunny late morning shy and saw an unannounced fly over by a large jet being escorted by two fighter planes. Flying over that part of New York which just eight years ago had experienced our nation’s financial district can you say Panic?
You have to ask yourself, what the hell was whoever dreamed this up thinking about, ordering this low flying jet over lower Manhattan just eight years after 9-11? Then insisting on keeping the matter a secret? Is that an idiocy of a previously undreamed of level or not? I ask you.
Of course President Obama was furious when told about it. How could he not have been? Who orchestrated this disaster, and how much power does he exercise in the Obama administration? For the story we travel to the Guardian, UK:
Emergency phone lines were jammed, and there were scenes of pandemonium as people tried to flee the area. To compound matters, Caldera's office had ordered that no information about the fly over should be given out to the public ahead of the shoot, on the grounds that this was a "classified" mission. New York police and the mayor's office were told in advance, but expressly told to keep it secret.
As the final straw, it was revealed that the photo shoot had cost taxpayers $328, 835. When Obama learned of what had happened, he is said to have been furious and ordered a review of the matter to ensure such an incident never happens again.
The lucky man who dreamed up this project, then kept it secret, is named Luis Caldera, and he headed the White House Military Office. In his resignation letter to Obama Caldera said that the controversy around the aerial photo shoot had made it impossible for him to lead the military office. "It has become a distraction to the important work you are doing as president."
A distraction it certainly was. Again you have to ask yourself, what could the man dreamed up this travesty have been thinking? Ah well, as boondoggles go Caldera created a doozy. One that will live long in legend. It’s just that, what organization is going to step forth and hire someone who created such a gigantic faux pas. “Sir, I orchestrated the famous fly over of Air Force One over lower Manhattan, all the while insisting that the project be kept secret. Wouldn’t somebody out there like to hire me?”§
This is the age of the internet browser. What Bill Gates of Microsoft had envisioned when in the nineties Microsoft used their monopoly to shoot down Netscape, has finally come about. The operating system that our computers use is mostly irrelevant as these days finds us spending most of our time on the internet sending email, visiting social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, twittering friend and foe alike, or otherwise searching and/or downloading the stuff which makes up our interest. And the killer ap in this age of browser dominance is the search engine. Hence the dominance of Google, so much so that its name has become a verb meaning internet search.
And so our interest shifts from operating systems to browsers. Microsoft which has been dominant since it captured much of the market by including its browser as part of its operating system, has seen some major slippage of late as Firefox, the open source successor to Netscape, has grown its market share into the twenties. And Apple’s Safari browser, which originally worked only on Macs, but which was later expanded to Windows, has roughly 10% of the browser market. And finally Google itself has entered the browser field, giving birth to Chromium
Microsoft has been running an ad campaign intended to inform readers they are paying an “Apple Tax” when they choose to buy a Mac over a Windows computer. The campaign offers interested persons a certain amount of money with which to buy a computer, indicating that they will be able to keep the difference if they choose a lower priced machine. It started its campaign with a young lady (who it turns was out a part time actress), next it used a so-called tech expert, even though after his choice several real tech experts pointed out that the machine he picked failed to meet two of his criteria, whereas the Mac he passed on met all of his specs. Then a mother and her son. After four of these Microsoft ads Apple has replied with a commercial of its own. It lies below:
And finally Google, the little Search Engine that Could (AND DID!), joined the fray with its Chromium browser, so far only available for Windows computers, though versions are planned for the Mac and Linux. Google is a minimalist browser, and is still in development, but Google Japan put together a fun commercial which Google has decided to share with the rest of us. It, too, lies directly below:
And so the new browser wars begin. Microsoft, years behind in getting IE up to date, has dropped close to thirty points, Firefox picking up most of those these days comes in at around 20, and mark Apple’s Safari for about 10%. Also in the running, but not so’s you would notice, is Google’s Chrome browser, which it describes as a minimalist browser, with few of the optional bells and whistles that you can find on the others. For some people it makes up for this by being wickedly fast.§
Jammie Thomas, the Native American mother of two who was the only American ever to be convicted of offering part of her cd collection for downloading, only to have the case thrown out by the original judge who cited an incorrect jury instruction on his part as the reason, and who also objected to the excessively high penalties that had been attached to the verdict. Wired reports that the Recording Industry Association of America on Tuesday failed to settle the infamous Jammie Thomas case, setting the stage for a retrial of the nation’s only file sharing case to have gone before a jury.
Thomas’ lawyer, Brian Toder, and RIAA lawyers met privately in a Minnesota federal court for two hours haggling over the case. No conclusion was reached. Thomas has maintained she would never settle. A retrial is set for June 15.
“What they wanted to do, my client did not want to do,” Toder said in a telephone interview. He declined to disclose the RIAA’s financial demands.
A Duluth jury in 2007 dinged Thomas $222,000 for infringing 24 songs on the Kazaa file sharing program. But months later, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis declared a mistrial, saying he falsely instructed the jury that copyright infringement amounted to merely making available copyrighted works on a file sharing program – regardless of whether it was proved anybody else downloaded the content.
Davis ruled it was unclear whether jurors found Thomas liable because she made the songs available or downloaded them from another open share folder. The RIAA, in arguing against a mistrial, said the distinction did not matter. Her attorney Toder successfully argued that the error was so egregious that a new trial was indeed warranted.
How Ms Thomas will do in her new trial is anybody’s guess, however, it is pretty standard these days for the courts not to convict on a folder dedicated to posting Mp3’s. Proof is required that someone actually uploaded the music for the charges to stick, and to date the music industry hasn’t been able to prove any exists. And Jammie, bless her heart, said she would refuse to settle with the Record Industry on their terms, and she has evidently stuck to her guns. Good luck to you, Ms Thomas. We wish you the best.
And finally a few words celebrating a basketball team which has spent a season playing with a constantly shifting group of players, as key members of the team succumb to injury. If ever there was a team comparable to the children’s classic, “The Little Engine That Could” this year’s Rockets would be that team. Tracy McGrady, it’s high scoring star, out for the season due to surgery. The Rockets went on to place fifth in the Western Conference anyway and entered the playoffs playing Portland in Portland. They won that series in six, just in time to face the West’s highest scoring team, the Los Angeles Lakers. The history of this series follows: GM 1 May 4 Houston at L.A. a WIN, 100-92; GM 2 May 6 Houston at L.A., a LOSS, 111-98; GM 3 May 8 L.A. at Houston a LOSS, 108-94; GM 4 May 10 L.A. at Houston a WIN, 99-87; GM 5 May 12 Houston at L.A., a LOSS, 118-78; GM 6 May 14 L.A. at Houston a WIN, 95-80.
Note: the May 10 win at Houston was without Houston’s star center, Yao Ming, who went out for the season with a fracture in his foot after the May 8th loss in L.A. Game 5 on May 12 was a blowout on the part of Los Angeles, who won it by forty points, 118-78. Everybody oohed and ahhed, and patted the Rockets sympathetically, figuring the Lakers would follow Game 5 with a blowout in Houston and snatch the series in its eager jaws. But they neglected to run that game plan by the Rockets, who as a result followed their 40 point Game 5 loss with one of the best managed basketball games I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. They started hot and never gave up their lead (even though at one point it had shrunk to two points), and they finished the game with a well deserved fifteen point win over the arguably superior L.A. Lakers. And so the Rockets are off to LA for a Sunday afternoon Game 7 at 2:30 CDT on ABC television, which should settle the matter of superiority once and for all. The Lakers-Rockets series established cornerstones in the present Rockets lineup. Aaron Brooks was its star and top scorer, but essential groundwork in scoring and rebounding was laid by Luis Scola, along with Ron Artest and Carl Landry, and the defensive assignments went to Artest, Shane Battier and Chuck Hayes.
Following a sports team vicariously can be a gut wrenching experience. You take each loss personally, and you stand up straighter after each win, even though you personally had nothing to do with either one. It’s unreal, but true. ‘Tis the nature of sports in this day and age of television I guess, a case of intensified identification. At any rate, we will follow our regular Saturday morning posting with an additional Sunday afternoon tweet to my blog to let you know how Game 7 came out. The world is expecting a Lakers’ win, of course, but after Thursday night’s game, who in their right mind would dare predict an outcome.
Incidentally, we would like to salute Kenny Smith, ex-Rocket and current TNT analyst, for wearing his bright red Rockets jacket during TNT’s post game coverage Wednesday night. Kenny was the only analyst who gave the Rockets a chance in games 4 and 6, and he turned out to be the only analyst who was correct.
The Houston Rockets, after nailing the Lakers by 15 points in Game 6, in game 7 fell to those same Lakers 89 to 70.
It wasn’t exactly a surprise. Methinks no one outside of the Rocket’s locker room really expected them to pull off yet another miracle. And over their dead bodies were the Lakers going to lose. The Rockets played good defense. The Lakers were stuck on this number or that for minutes at a time. But the Rockets could not score at their end. They got somewhat better in the second half, but by then it was too late.
But at least the Rockets didn’t roll over, they played as hard as they reasonably could, and the miracle of this year has been that they had gotten as far as they had after first losing Tracy McGrady in mid season, and then, in the second round of the playoffs, losing both Dikembe Mutumbo and Yao Ming. That was simply too much of a loss. They could, and did, tighten their belts, pulling off two wins without Yao. But three was asking the impossible.
And so the Rockets end their season far ahead of where anybody expected them to be. And they are fine-tuned for next year. If only general manager Daryl Morey can reel in some offensive firepower over the summer. Or T-Mac returns raring to go with a brand new surgically repaired knee. Ah, well. Summer hoops dreams, there’s nothing quite like them.§
And that’s where we’ll have to leave this week’s posting. As much as we hate to admit it, when your time’s up you’re out the door. Anyway, there’s always next week with one more chance to redeem one’s self. We do hope to see you then. Bye now.