Posted tagged ‘Opinion’

Sarah Palin & The Art of Victimhood

June 16, 2009

Wow. I am impressed with this woman’s skill. Scared, but impressed.

For those who avoid the news, David Letterman told a joke involving one of Ms. Palin’s daughters, an unwed, 18-year-old mother. This joke was also about baseball’s Alex Rodriguez. Never mind that, or that this single mother has been the subject of mainstream media and late-night comedy since news of her pregnancy broke while her own mother was running to be our Vice-President. The elder Palin has turned this particular moment of late-night television into a seemingly endless soap opera, with herself and her daughters, and all young women, including those serving our country in the military (huh?) as the victims of a “perverted,” “so-called comedian.”

Unfortunately, Letterman goofed. The unwed mother in question didn’t go to the ball game, a younger sister did. And so did Opportunity visit, and it was welcomed with open arms. Ms. Palin publicly discounted the obvious meaning of and personalities in the joke, hypocritically calling the mistake a convenient excuse. Instead she created and sold a convenient scenario where a sicko Letterman was intentionally targeting her younger daughter, a child rarely if ever seen in the public spotlight before now. Palin telescoped the joke, and invoked young women everywhere as its victims. The rhetoric and histrionics hit such a nerve in a like-minded segment of the public that a “Impeach Fire David Letterman” group was organized.

It is said that minor children of politicians are off-limits to the media, by convention if not by actual rule. There are always exceptions; Chelsea Clinton’s ugly-duckling looks, to turn the tables, were the butt of several jokes I can recall with discomfort. Rush L. famously called her the White House “dog.” There is a difference: Chelsea’s appearance wasn’t a matter of her choice. Further, Palin’s political background is of the “Just Say No,” “Family Values” variety. I know nothing of Sarah Palin’s skill as a mother and nurturer of children, and I’m no one to judge. Still, that sort of conflict of words versus reality is something that invites scrutiny, particularly in candidates for national office.

So, Sarah Palin has revealed herself as a gifted mud slinger and opportunist. Perhaps it is redundant to identify these traits in any politician. While I had hoped she and her folksy veneer would be soon forgotten as the nation tried to pull back together in unity, now I think she’ll be in the national light until at least the next election. She got off to a shaky start in the big leagues, but she’s clearly got unfinished business and the political know-how to keep it in the public eye. Still, it seems to have escaped notice that the younger Palin’s true victimhood stemmed from her mother pulling her from obscurity and holding her up in the spotlight to make a disingenuous, self-serving point that never needed to be made. Well, unless you count building her public visibility and support at the expense of two innocents: the smearing of David Letterman and the privacy of her own 14-year-old daughter, Willow.

It should be unsurprising that in today’s editorial-as-news, one writer effuses over Palin’s magnanimous acceptance of Letterman’s apology, and suggests we should all be more like her when we are similarly aggrieved.

In short, she got down and dirty, and at least in the view of some, ended up on the moral high ground. Wow. She is good.

I wish I had a hole to crawl into, a protective place, a shelter from the storms of media-fanned, irrational frenzies like this.

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are normally intended to enlighten, entertain and, in some cases, uplift. They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

UPDATE: Like “OctoMom” jokes, I’ve long since tired of reading anything about this subject. Still, I was surprised and pleased to find one piece I could agree with.

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The great 2008 Mortgage bailout – Why am I paying for other people’s homes?

March 27, 2008

Washington is abuzz with talk of rescuing the sub-prime mortgage lending industry, and all the home buyers who who signed up with them, gambling that rates would remain low.

Personally, I have a bunch of problems with this. First, when I bought my first and only home so far, I opted for the best fixed-rate mortgage I could find. I knew I’d be bankrupt if I went with an adjustable-rate mortgage and the market went bad. So, I’ve been paying higher interest rates than those who need their debts forgiven by the crazy lenders who loaned money to those who couldn’t really afford it.

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Pro bicyclist at crematorium, arranging his infant son’s funeral, is threatened with suspension by drug tester

March 18, 2008

The Fanhouse at AOL is reporting the sad story of Kevin van Impe, who was arranging his baby’s cremation when he was approached by a drug tester and ordered to pee in a cup. Van Impe asked for some compassion at such a painful time, and the tester (whose name and agency have not been reported) threatened the cyclist with a two year suspension.

Words can’t describe what a tragedy this is, not only for Mr. van Impe, but also the sport of cycling, which is suffering at the hands of over-zealous, secretive anti-doping agencies who feel they have a moral mandate to conduct a modern-day Inquisition, yet like Torquemada have long ago lost their own moral compass.

(Warning: the comments contain NSFW language.)

Comcast: “All Your Law Are Belong To Us.”

February 26, 2008

Our free-market system took a hot poker in the eye today. Comcast, under FCC scrutiny for aggressive and intrusive internet throttling, stacked the deck at their FCC hearing with a roomful of paid audience members who cheered for them during the deliberations. Worse, this pre-emptive strike against free speech was executed 90 minutes before the start of the proceedings, so actual citizens with an actual interest were turned away at the door.

So to summarize, Big Company snoops on their customers’ private communications, uses that data to selectively and anonymously interfere with their customers’ computers and reduce bandwidth use, all the while insisting it did no such thing. That is, until proven otherwise by third parties. When the FCC tries to look into the matter, Big Company tries to derail a fair hearing by secretly bussing in a roomful of shills.

They must have one hell of a lobby, to so arrogantly mislead lie to the public and the government.

Update 3/28/08- Comcast announced today that they’re really very sorry, and they didn’t know what they were secretly doing, and they want to kiss and make up. Nine months from now, they will stop discriminating against peer-to-peer traffic, and find some other way to avoid swamping their network. In the meantime, Verizon has found a way to support peer-to-peer file sharing, increase upload and download speeds, and minimize costs.

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are normally intended to enlighten, entertain and, in some cases, uplift. (In this case, “enrage” may be closer to the truth.) They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

Apple’s iPhone: Where are the standard smartphone features?

February 26, 2008

I bought an iPhone the day after they were introduced. I like it a lot. I used to carry a Palm, a mobile phone and and iPod. Now I have the iPhone, and I bring my 60G iPod when I drive.

One thing has been troubling me for a while. When will the iPhone’s software be upgraded to include de rigeur smartphone features like recording movies or voice memos? Voice dial seems like a natural feature for an OS X-based phone, when OS X has voice recognition built in. The web experience is better than any other current phone, but it really isn’t “the whole web” without a Flash plugin.

What about the note pad? I’ve been syncing notes on my Palm for over a decade. Instead I have to use a draft email in an IMAP account as a note pad. Another feature I relied on in my Motorola V180 was “wait during dialing,” where the phone would dial up to a point and wait for me to hit a button to continue. That feature was good for making any call that included an extension number or PIN, and it was great when calling SmartRoutes (a free traffic reporting system with many prompts, and driving-challenged inputs like “*4951” to get information on the northern half of Route 495).

Steve Jobs said there’d be more features to come when he introduced the iPhone. Instead, the software updates have been largely focussed on bug fixes and securing the phone from unlocking. Where are the “new” features that are standard on lesser phones? We’re waiting.

Comcast Follies 2-15-08

February 15, 2008

Ars Technica is reporting and analyzing Comcast’s 57-page response to the FCC investigation into its internet traffic throttling policies.

A few questions have been answered: Yes, Comcast has been doing this for a while, though their press releases would have a rational person believe they had never done so. Yes, they are disrupting customers’ traffic by sending phony TCP reset packets that masquerade as originating from remote computers that customers are connected to. No, they don’t like calling these “forged packets.” No, they don’t think this is in any way wrong (regardless of their actions to conceal this behavior).

One interesting change in their rhetoric is they’re no longer justifying their actions as necessary anti-piracy steps. Plus, they seem to realize they’re on the defensive, accusing their critics of “inflammatory hyperbole.”

A few questions are unanswered. If this interference with normal communications is supposed to enhance everyone’s internet experience, why do all my internet programs (browsers, email, web publishing, synchronizing my computers) time out and fail when they’re throttling my connection? To hear them explain it, only P2P uploads should be affected, only some of the time. Why did they waste all our time with disingenuous answers for so long, so that the AP and the EFF had to independently prove they were, well, lying? As Art Technica writes, if this bandwidth issue is such a problem, why haven’t they had a similar issue with downloads? As I wrote, doesn’t their recent announcement offering a 20x speed boost to “millions of customers” contradict their stated need to conserve bandwidth to preserve their customer’s satisfaction?

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are intended to entertain and, in some cases, uplift. They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.

Blue Cross of CA solicited data from MDs to cancel insurance policies

February 15, 2008

The LA Times is reporting that BCBS has stopped sending out patient data and letters to doctors in an attempt to find ways to cancel their patients’ health insurance.

Overlooking the obvious lapse in medical ethics, is this even legal?

The opinions expressed in Steve’s Peeves are normally intended to enlighten, entertain and, in some cases, uplift. They may not be appropriate for young readers or the satirically challenged. Parental supervision is advised.