I'll be leaving Paris on Tuesday. And to be honest, it won't be too soon. Still, I realized that although I'm not having a good time in Paris, I've been confusing my feelings for this city with the rest of France.
I took a trip out to one of the small villages near by a few days ago for a break from the pace of the big city. I was a bit shocked at exactly how relieved I felt. Although there are quite a few things that I don't like about France [not the least of which is an annoying wave of nationalism and protectionism that's been building since the end of the spring], there are also quite a few things that I like about this country. The slower pace of life is not a bad thing at all, but it's quite strange when mixed with the mad pace of Paris to produce some strange hybrid. Here, everyone's constantly in a rush, but a rush to do nothing. It's very hard to explain. But people fight viciously to be able to work less, all the while not relaxing at all. As well, there are way too many nut cases wandering around. It seems like every night I'm getting hassled by some sort of weirdo on the street. And other people that I've talked to say they have the same experiences.
At any rate, I'm going east, with my first stop being Geneva. Eventually I'll loop around and head north.
As far as what I've been doing these last few weeks, there really hasn't been much at all worth mentioning. Mostly I've been reading. The French [written] media really is the best that I've seen, and I've been enjoying it while I can. I've also been working on some drawings, although not portrait style like the ones that I've posted on the deviantart website. So I doubt that I'll bother scanning them. I've been trying to find a style that I like in terms of doing cartoon characters, but haven't come up with anything quite yet.
Seeing as how there hasn't much going on in my life lately, I'll fill out yet another of these entries with a rant about politics/current-events.
So the Bush administration has been caught telling bold-faced lies yet again. And as usual [always?], there aren't any consequences. No big surprise. But this time something is different. And it's something that I find scary as hell.
A few months ago, the name of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame, was leaked to the media. This is a serious federal offence in the U.S., as it's seen as jeopardizing national security. No one knew who spilled the beans, but Bush promised that if he found out that person was working for his administration, he'd be fired on the spot.
So the story cools off for a while. Then, a judge at the inquiry into all of this demanded that the reporters who broke the story divulge their sources. What was shocking was that when they said no, one of them went to jail. Judith Miller, who works for the New York Times, was sentenced to four months in prison. Even worse was what happened afterwards. The news magazine Time, which had also been involved in the story, went against the wishes of their staff and released the name of the source.
This amounts to the death of confidentiality in the media. Although the article in question isn't of massive national [or global] importance, the next time there could be much more at stake. The main source for Watergate was also leaking confidential documents, and the reporters who broke that story could well have gone to jail under similar circumstances. The next time that someone feels they should report a scandal, even if doing so is illegal, they might think twice about it. They could very easily go to jail.
Now in this particular case, the stool pigeon was Bush's #3 man, Karl Rove. It seems that the CIA agent's husband, Joseph Wilson, who had been conducting investigations into Iraq's weapons capabilities back in early 2003. He told the truth about his findings, thus [as expected] contradicting what the Bush administration was at the time trying so desperately to peddle to the world. This was of course frowned upon in a big way by the Republicans, and Rove took it upon himself to punish Wilson by outing his wife. All of this is completely illegal. But seeing as how this is Bush's butt buddy, the government has changed their stance. It seems that Rove only said that the wife of Joseph Wilson, the American ambassador, was a CIA agent, and didn't actually give her name outright. So this is apparently fine, despite the fact that any idiot that Googles his name will get her's as well. And so Rove will likely go completely unpunished, and if the past is any indication, he'll probably end up with a promotion instead, ala Wolfowitz, Bolton, etc. Of course, had it been a Democrat who had leaked the name in the exact same way, it goes without saying that Bush would have had him strung up by the nads. But no one in any position to do anything seems to care, and so the accountability of the U.S. government slips even more. Of course, it was already dead when Bush was re-elected, after lying so obviously and consistently all the way through the Iraq fiasco. And that's only to give the most obvious example. Still, I guess we can say that accountability in the U.S. is now (in addition to being dead) buried and forgotten.
I'll end with something that I found quite funny, in addition to being well written. The author's name surprised me. Although I don't respect the man at all, he really did a good job here.
I have decided to take a page from George W. Bush's foreign policy. If it's good enough for the United States of America, shouldn't it be good enough for me?
Thus, I would like to announce to all of my neighbors in the Santa Monica Hills that I am reserving the right to launch a preemptive attack on any of them - should I feel threatened. The nature of the threat need not be clearly defined in order for me to initiate, at my sole discretion, this first-strike option. After all, I don't want the first warning of an attack on me to be a mushroom cloud, right? To ensure that my neighbors comply with my security needs, I will be sending a personal emissary to their homes (probably a guy named Doug) to determine that they are not armed or - if indeed they possess weapons - to encourage them to disarm.
Of course, I want to reassure my neighbors that most of them have nothing to worry about. I would never resort to force unless it were absolutely necessary. However, like the United States, I've already been attacked once (and severely wounded), and I don't intend to let that happen again. So keep your stereos turned down, folks, stop complaining about the naked women hanging out at my pool, and I'm sure we'll all get along just fine.