Saturday, October 14, 2006

Ney pleads guilty--but doesn't resign

Yesterday Republican Congressman Bob Ney pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements. That makes him the first GOP legislator to admit to being the recipient of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's influence-buying. I doubt he'll be the last.

But he has not resigned his seat in the House of Representatives just yet, much to the embarrassment of the Republicans. The last thing they need is a walking, talking reminder of the moral bankruptcy of so many in their party. If they aren't taking extravagant "gifts" from lobbyists, they're sending sexually suggestive messages to teenaged Congressional pages--or covering up the sending of the messages.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said that Ney's crimes are "not a reflection of the Republican Party." Maybe they're not a reflection of the Republican Party--I'm pretty sure bribe-taking isn't an official plank in their platform. But it is a reflection of the Republicans--the fact is, their party does seem to attract an awful lot of miscreants.

More good times for the Democrats.

A taxing week

It feels good to have finished doing my taxes--three days early, even.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Holocaust and Rosseau--three days in Washington.

I just got back a couple hours ago from a trip to Washington to see the U.S. National Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Rousseau Exhibition at the National Gallery of Art.
Saturday and today we spent at The Holocaust Memorial. We didn't get to see more than a fraction, just the small but informative exhibit on the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and the beginning of the Permanent Exhibition. It might take twelve hours to fully view the latter, maybe more. In about 4½ hours over the two days we might have gotten through a third of it, it's so huge.

I'm not going to post a full review, even of the part I did see. I will say that it is extremely well done, going into just the right amount of detail in most areas. Here and there I came across some things that were new to me, for instance, how the Nazis defined what a Jew was. This was something they never had to really do until it became a crime for a non-Jew to marry or have sexual relations with a Jew.

There are some interesting artifacts on display. I certainly noticed a pair of early tabulating machines the Nazis used to process the data concerning people's race--early examples of a card punch and a card sorter. The logo of the manufacturer was quite evident: IBM--they were manufactured by its German subsidiary.

The Museum building itself is also remarkable. It's reminiscent of a prison and a factory--a lot of plain brick, metal, rivet-studded doors and baseboards, skylights. It is respectful of the subject matter, but not pretty. There was one other thing I thought was excellent--most of the people visiting the museum were not Jewish. Jews tend to know a lot about the holocaust, but others may not. Today when we arrived there was group of young men in uniform about to leave after their visit. Their speech confirmed what I surmised from their garb--they were German, perhaps cadets at the German version of West Point.

Eventually we'll go back to see the rest of it. It will probably take another two trips.

Sunday we went to the National Gallery to see Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris. This exhibition has only one more week to run. The enigmatic artist's work is extensively shown. But was he really as naive as many of his paintings, and his statements, would suggest? Or was this just his strategy to use his limited, self-taught technique to eke out a meager living? I don't think we'll ever really know. I do know that Rousseau's work is fascinating, not beautiful by any stretch, but haunting, emanating an air of mystery unlike any other artist's that I can think of.