Unmistakable Marks

Warranted Genuine Snarks

Have you no shame, Senator?

It really would be nice if the media would serve as more than a transcription service. Here, The New York Times passes along some character assassination, in an article with a nasty-sounding headline, but absolutely no substantial charges against Richard Clarke. This is really an amazing bit of work from Senator Frist. Consider this paragraph:

Far from accepting his own responsibility for any failures before the attacks, Mr. Clarke was “consumed by the desire to dodge any blame” even as rescuers were sifting through the rubble of the World Trade Center, Dr. Frist said in a speech on the Senate floor.

That would be the same blame-dodging Richard Clarke who said before the 9/11 commission:

Your government failed you ... and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn’t matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask ... for your understanding and for your forgiveness.

Note all the blame-dodging, there.

So, while he’s not busy insulting people with false statements, what’s Frist’s serious charge against Clarke here? Does he dispute the accuracy of what Clarke’s said? Does he have a smoking gun that would show Clarke to be lying for inexplicable purposes? Anything? No:

Dr. Frist said he would seek to declassify testimony that Mr. Clarke gave in July 2002 in closed meetings of the intelligence committees of both the Senate and the House. The majority leader said he wanted to compare that testimony with Mr. Clarke’s testimony this week before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, a 10-member, independent, bipartisan panel investigating 9/11.

Perhaps, Dr. Frist said, inconsistencies will be found. “Until you have him under oath both times, you don’t know,” the Tennessee Republican said.

In other words, he’s got nothing, but really hopes that if he pokes around a lot, he can at least muddy the waters. Note that this continues the pattern of Republicans 1) not addressing Clarke’s actual charges, and 2) utterly failing in their efforts to make him look bad personally. Note also, in that same article, Frist’s transparently dishonest complaints about the book’s timing, even though he knows perfectly well it was held up in publishing for months while the government made sure it was clean of classified information.

Comments | March 26, 2004

Sane Thoughts on the Linux Platform

Havoc Pennington forthrightly addresses the rapidly growing problem of the Linux desktop platform being neither Linux, nor a desktop, nor a platform.

Well, okay, so maybe it’s a desktop. But anyway, the problem is that the existing C++ infrastructure underlying the current Linux desktop platform is showing its age, and people want a modern, memory-managed infrastructure to build on — a fact I touched on en passant back last September. As Pennington notes, the problem isn’t just technical, it’s political. There’s no consensus in the Linux community about what should be done. You’ve got Sun, which is both a big backer of GNOME and committed to Java; you’ve got Novell/Ximian, which is a big backer of GNOME and the primary force behind Mono; and you’ve got the open source community, which views both Java and Mono as too proprietary to put into the core layers of the OS.

The solution Pennington advocates is in the grand tradition of open source: A half-crippled and generally lousy reimplementation of existing technology; in this case, Java. This is an obviously losing idea — the new and improved infrastructure for Linux will be an incomplete and buggy version of a platform that’s never made significant inroads on the desktop despite a decade of effort — but the frightening thing is, I agree with Pennington that it’s probably the best course of action practically available.

Actually, no, the frightening thing is: I doubt his analysis is going to snap anyone out of their current plans. Linux moving whole hog to a Java-clone infrastructure on the desktop is the unlikely best case scenario; the more likely case is that everyone carries on doing what they’re doing, and the core desktop stack becomes an unwieldly mish-mash of C/C++, Java, and .NET, thereby making it virtually impossible to program cleanly against and ensuring that applications don’t work together well and all require a huge pile of incompatible libraries.

Comments | March 23, 2004

The Problem With Open Source

Or at least, a problem: You never know how serious anything is. Take Groovy. Up until a week ago, I’d never heard of it (or possibly had heard of it in such experimental toy-related terms that I didn’t bother remembering hearing about it). And then Java.net has an article entitled “Groovy — A New Standard Programming Language for the Java Platform”, which pointed out that it’s been submitted as a JSR.

Well, that’s all official-sounding and shit, but upon further review, I realize that it’s not an accepted JSR (that is, they just wrote up a proposal); and that Groovy isn’t even at 1.0 yet. And at least one person is, er, slightly contemptuous of the JSR submission.

So what am I to think? Is Groovy the Next Big Thing in the Java world, or is it just a little wannabe toy project that’s getting too big for its britches? I’ve just spent an hour trying to find out, and I still don’t know.

Comments | March 20, 2004

Bad Policy is Bad Politics

A recent article over at Kevin Drum Magazine explains the tension between politics and policy, and illustrates how the Bush administration has come down on the side of politics consistently.

The amazing thing about this politics uber alles view, as the Slacktivist points out, is that it’s self-defeating. We’ve already seen this on the economy — if you work really, really hard, you can sort of spin a terrible employment situation so that it only makes you look somewhat bad; but it’s a lot easier to spin a good employment situation to make you look great. And now it looks like we’re soon going to see that blowing off national security for cheap political gain is not only a terrible idea from a security perspective, but from a political one.

You wonder why I hate the Bush administration? This is why. I can respect people who come to different conclusions than I do, who think that the problems of the day call for solutions that I wouldn’t have prescribed. But not even trying to solve the problem, greeting every issue with, “How can we use this to make ourselves look good and advance our agenda?”, that’s deserving of nothing but contempt.

Comments | March 19, 2004

The Terrible Difficulties of the Rich

The Wall Street Journal again focuses our attentions on the nation’s pressing problems:

Mitchell Leit thought his silvery green Bentley coupe would be the envy of the neighborhood, with its hand-buffed walnut interior, muscular 12-cylinder engine and $150,000 price tag. But looming large in the rear-view mirror is a crowd of mass-market rivals, including Audis and BMWs for $120,000 — and even a $140,000 Ford. “Suddenly,” says the 60-year-old Los Angeles real-estate broker, “the Bentley is a mid-priced car.”

Comments | March 12, 2004

What Does $200 Million Buy You?

So, Bush has kicked the campaign into... well, second gear, anyway. The result? Headlines like this one:

Bush Campaign Defends Use of 9/11 in TV Ads

Yes, that’s right. They’re on the defensive from their own ads. This has been your Political Super-Genius moment for the day.

Comments | March 4, 2004

Notes From All Over

I don’t have much interesting to say at the moment; but fortunately, the Internet is just chock-full of people who do.

Comments | March 3, 2004

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