Thursday, August 21, 2008

News You Can't Use

Good afternoon ladies & gentlemen! We start this edition of “News You Can’t Use” with this gem:

White House Missing as Many as 225 Days of Email
Well, let’s just file this one under “isn’t that convenient”. At least they gave the dead horses of “executive privilege” and “national security” a well deserved break. In all actuality, this should be illegal, because it is for a lot of other folks. Here’s why:

The Sarbanes-Oxley act of 2002 (SOX) was legislation that came out of the numerous corporate scandals involving Enron, Tyco, etc. I’m not expert on SOX, but one of the things that it requires is that companies be able to provide email records if audited or face criminal prosecution (see the fine print below).

I only know this because back in 2005 when I worked for VERITAS Software (later Symantec), when the deadlines for meeting SOX requirements were looming, the big thing everyone was asking about was our email archiving solution, Enterprise Vault, which had already been in existence for years. The short & long of it is, companies were required to be able to recover emails, and solutions existed (even way back then) that enabled them to do that. For the government to say that they “lost” 225 days of email reeks of 1) incompetence, or 2) corruption. That we would tolerate either in the Office of the President is simply a bad reflection on us.

Sarbanes-Oxley, however, only applies to public corporations, but if we require this of public companies, should we not also require it of the U.S. Government in general and the White House in particular?

Criminal Penalties for Violation of SOX: Section 802(a) of the SOX, 18 U.S.C. § 1519 states: “Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

On to story #2, (not to be confused with certain bodily functions that share that designation). Since we’re already on the subject of incompetence, here’s a sweet dish from those fine folks at the Department of Homeland Security who continually assure us that they can protect us if only we give them every civil right we own:

FEMA phones hacked; calls made to Mideast, Asia
I feel so safe. Don’t you?

And the best for last . . . . You don’t even have to read this one; the title tells you everything you need to know. Without a doubt, this is a man who is “in touch” with the trials & tribulations of the everyday American.

McCain unsure how many houses he owns

Well, that’s the news folks! Good night, and good luck. (You're gonna need it.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"This Is Not 1968"

An Associated Press news article today states that "President Bush put the U.S. more firmly than ever on Georgia's side in its conflict with Russia on Wednesday, sending humanitarian aid on American military planes to help the embattled ex-Soviet republic and displaying growing impatience with Moscow's aggression".

"Moscow's agression". That's interesting. Wasn't it Georgia who was the aggressor here in starting this whole thing by invading South Ossetia?

The article later quotes Condoleezza Rice as saying "This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia where Russia can threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it," Rice said just hours before leaving for France. "Things have changed."

She's right, things have changed. This is 2008 and the invasion of Iraq where the United States can threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it. Apparently Russia didn't get the email.

Talk about "do as I say, not as I do". At least Russia had a valid reason for attacking.

Monday, August 11, 2008

When It's Okay to Be Lied To

from Yahoo Sports News . . .

"If you watched the Opening Ceremony on Friday night, chances are you said something like, "no way that's possible" at least once. It turns out you were right.

London's Telegraph newspaper reports that some of the fireworks which appeared over Beijing during the television broadcast of the Olympic Opening Ceremony were actually computer generated."
Whole article here.

* * *

Definition of "Deceive": to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid (from

Is deception on a mass scale acceptable as long as it was done in the interests of “safety”? Does the fact that it was done for entertainment purposes make it okay?

Does anyone think that something like this couldn’t happen in the United States? Could the same type of deception one day cross over the line from “entertainment” into “news” and "public servcie announcements"? Would any of us realize it if it did?

And does it matter that I had it backwards?

excerpt from What So Proudly We Hailed . . .

(United States, 2027 A.D.)
It was three days after July 4th, when A.J. and I had watched the celebration in Washington DC on television and saw the fireworks and the flag waving and the reading of important sounding words that didn’t mean anything anymore and the vehement assurances to all patriotic Americans that progress was being made in the war on terrorism, both foreign and domestic.

The wide angle cameras showed the Mall area overflowing with thousands of people, but the close in shots stayed in tight on the podium during the speeches and songs, showing only the stage and the first few rows of people.

I heard from a reliable source that there were only about 200 actual people at the Mall that day; paid actors for all I know. The crowds that were shown in the long views were all computer animated, and the applause and cheering that came over the TV was canned.

The fireworks had been real, though.

* * *

My mother had a saying that she often recited as I was growing up: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." A little hokey maybe, but apt.

Deception is deception; if it becomes acceptable anywhere, it becomes acceptable everywhere.

. . . choose this day whom you will serve . . . (Joshua 24:15)