Random: GRE, NYT vs. The Right, The Dems

I Took the GRE

I took the GRE, or Graduate Record Exam, on Monday. It took me about 3.5 hours to complete, although I didn’t take any breaks in between sections, and I also did the experimental section, which I presume is for testing the standard deviation for new questions.

I got a 700 on my verbal, and a 670 on my quantitative. I will get my writing score later but I think I nailed it.

My scores? Well, they’re pretty good. The verbal is actually above or on the high side of the average scores for the better schools. My quantitative is on the low end of the averages.

Here’s some more numbers on GRE averages, from Brian J. Phillips’ blog.

I’m trying to go to a good international affairs graduate school. Right now my list is Carleton University (Ottawa, near my sweetheart!), Georgetown, Columbia, and UTexas@Austin. What else should I add? I want to try for the Fletcher School at Tufts. I might be setting my sights too high though, when I could go to another school and get a scholarship out of it. Ideas?

NYTimes Being Accused of Treason

This story is ridiculous. In case you missed it, here’s some background from the Washington Post. Basically, the NYTimes’ editor carefully considered whether or not to publish a report about the U.S. government’s monitoring of financial transactions. They went with the story and the Bush administration, FOXNews, and the right were incensed.

Now people want to bring them up on treason for exposing secrets to the terrorists. From the article, “Arizona Rep. J.D. Hayworth circulated a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert calling for the paper’s congressional credentials to be withdrawn. And New York Rep. Peter King continues to call for the Times — which, he told Fox News, has an “arrogant, elitist, left-wing agenda” — to be prosecuted for violating the 1917 Espionage Act.”

Basically, they want to censor the NYTimes and they don’t even care that it could be seen as a violation of freedom of press. Right now, EVERYTHING is secret. Our government is basically run like a military command. It is NOT run in a civilian’s interest.

I’d be amazed if anything serious comes out of all this in terms of restricting the press, but it’s a pretty fine line. It’s still depressing to me to see how everything that stands for “freedom”, whatever the fuck that means anymore, is being thrown out the window at least in the rhetoric.

History Refreshers

Does any of this seem familiar to you? It should, if you’re a little older. Remember the Pentagon Papers? (Wikipedia background) The Pentagon Papers were reports on the Vietnam War leaked to the NYTimes about a covert expansion of the war while the government publically said it was not expanding its mission. The government, like this time, was not pleased.

“When the Times began publishing its series, President Nixon became incensed. His words to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger that day included “people have gotta be put to the torch for this sort of thing…” and “let’s get the son-of-a-bitch in jail.” [3] After failing to get the Times to voluntarily stop publishing, Attorney General John Mitchell and President Nixon requested and obtained a federal court injunction that the Times cease the publication of excerpts. The Times appealed the injunction that was issued, and the case began (quickly) working its way through the court system.”

So we have the same shit happening now. Luckily the NYTimes won in the Supreme Court. One twist in the current situation is that the Wall Street Journal was supposedly working on the story as well, and just didn’t finish before the NYTimes broke the news. But no one is attacking the WSJ because, as one person put it on FOXNews, paraphrased, “intent is not the same as action”.

All we need now is for some stubborn, stodgy, crusty Republican senator to take over as chief of a board and provide us with our age’s McCarthyism, someone who will begin investigating celebrities, opposing politicians, and anyone in government or the military who “sympathizes with” or “abets” terrorists and Islamic jihad.

Once again it shows that the NYT and WaPo have been the ones doing real journalism. The 9/11/Afghanistan/Iraq reporting, the Pentagon Papers, Swift, and the NSA spying program, to name the most well-known ones right now. I think these papers should be commended for their work, revealing issues of the public’s interest for decades. Without them, we would be worse off.

The Democratic Party

Apparently the Dems are staying quiet on the issue of the NYTimes. And while they all voted to defend net neutrality, the original vote as I understand it was more lopsided than the 11-11 tie today. I hope that means all those online campaigns to raise awareness in support of net neutrality (EFF, MoveOn) worked.

But the bad part about all this is that we have to explain common everyday things to our politicians! If we don’t, then the votes will be even more negatively one-sided. Why are all our representatives so clueless? Why do they say things on CSPAN like “I am somewhat of a gamer myself”, an “expert at pong” or pretty good at “Civilization 4”? Why do they waste time introducing resolutions to congratulate the Carolina Hurricanes? (seen on CSPAN tonight) Why are they so disconnected from reality?

It’s like they’ve been beamed from the 1950’s to pass legislation now.

We need a new party, an informed, modernized party, free of the restraints of rhetoric that’s lasted over the last century. The political mindspace is so isolated and insular right now that it only cares about itself, raising its pay while voting down minimum wage. It presses the need for protection from flag burning, a symbol of freedom, and is being treated as important an issue as banning gay marriage, all this during a perpetual war on terror. By the way, a joint resolution for an amendment banning flag burning survived today’s vote, by virtue of a 34-66 decision. A joint resolution needs 2/3rds of the vote to win, so flag burning survived by ONE VOTE.

We need an outsider party to open up political perspective again.