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November 13, 2003

I don't think it's a publicity stunt, at least not in a bad way. Bad judges are bad judges and shouldn't be given lifetime appointments to the Federal Bench. And the Bush Administration should be ashamed of itself for trying to force four barely qualified judges through the system.

Senate GOP set to extend floor debate another night If only it was a debate. An honest, extended debate on the merits of the nominees would be good. I'd like to hear a few Republicans stand up and defend their defense of the indefensible.

Read this Melody Barnes column. Fascinating.

And this is disgraceful under any circumstances. It was Veterans' Day, and a Veterans' Day parade. Veterans should be allowed to march.

This report says the Taliban is taking credit for things it isn't doing. Now that sounds to me like an act of desperation.

On the other hand, if you search around, you can find stories suggesting that things in Afghanistan are a lot worse than the neglectful USofA media is letting us know.

Two years after Kabul was freed from the Taliban there's a sense of deja vu about Afghanistan. The striking comparison is not primarily with Iraq, although reminders of the trouble the Americans are having in Mesopotamia pop up constantly. Indeed, in some ways things are worse. Fighting is on a heavier scale, with US helicopters and aircraft conducting almost daily raids on Taliban groups. Swathes of the south have become no-go areas for UN aid workers and NGOs. More than 350 people have been killed by Taliban attackers or US air raids since August, a death toll greater than in Iraq."

Not good.

And yet, the news isn't all bad.

That's war, I guess.

You bet the U.S. wants a speedier handover in Iraq. We gotta get out of there before the next presidential election, after all.

I feel a great deal of sympathy for the Italians for the loss of the peacekeepers in Iraq. Although their country sends troops out, they haven't been specifically "targeted" in so long that I think many of them didn't actually believe there was real danger. Losing soldiers in a 'peacetime' suicide bombing is a hard way to find out the truth.

And, speaking of truth, if you're reading The Guardian's Blog you read truth today. There's nothing most Republican leaders love more than Nader's Green Party. Rumor has it that they've funneled significant funds toward it in the past decade or so, to keep it viable and to keep voters on the left divided and conquered. Nader has about as much chance of winning a presidential election as I do, so those who worry about his leadership are missing the point. The point is that the committed and active liberals in this country, instead of taking back the Democratic Party, are continually being siphoned off by a vocal but unviable candidate.

Worries about the connection between childhood vaccinations and autism are news, we're starting to see a lot more about the problem these days. While we're at it, happily there are some also taking a good, hard look at how some drugs and drug ingredients got approved for use on humans.

Outsourcing is a success. Especially if you're in India or the Phillipines and jobs are being outsourced from another country. (Maybe not so good for the countries losing the jobs, of course.)

Apparently some members of Congress are more reliable than others. But no specific ones, you understand. Just randomly...six is better than eighteen or something. There's sensitive information that's apparently only safe to show a few people at a time since, presumably, it self-destructs if too many eyeballs see it.

Personally, I think anyone writing a briefing for a sitting President had better be offering the quality of analysis they wouldn't be ashamed to acknowledge publicly or there's something seriously wrong. Also I think that acting like Congress isn't capable of understanding the gulf between private "what if" analysis and a document ready for prime-time viewing is pretty insulting.

Now that the disaster of NAFTA is well-entrenched, we're considering adding FTAA to the problem. Bad idea. Very bad idea.

The FTAA would open up all markets and public services to transnational corporations, giving them carte blanche to run business without any government or civil-society oversight.

Admittedly, that perspective is a bit biased, but it's also pretty accurate. Fewer constraints on the power of transnational corporations to do, well, pretty much anything they can get away with, is not really what we need.

A perfect example is when Bechtel, based in San Francisco, privatized the water system of Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 1999 under an International Monetary Fund structural adjustment policy. Bechtel gouged prices, making it impossible for many residents to afford basic services, such as drinking water. As a result, Bolivias civil society pushed Bechtel out of the country through mass protests.

The company is now suing the Bolivian government for $25 million in damages in a closed-door arbitration tribunal, a mechanism adopted in a clause under Chapter 11 in the North American Free Trade Agreement, which will also be included in the FTAA. The public has no access to these hearings, yet the public carries the burden of decisions levied with public tax money.

You can't just go around privatizing the things people have to have to survive and trusting to a corporation's good intentions or "free market forces" to eventually make it all work.

This legislation isn't good for us or almost anyone else. Except, of course, "transnational corporations." They stand to do pretty well out of it.

I don't think it comes as a surprise to many of us to read that Limbaugh's appeal is that he's...welll...simple-minded. Bitter sound-bites. He encapsulates hatred in two words or less. He appeals to the worst instincts of his listeners, many of whom seem to be desperate to believe that they're better than someone. And that, really, is what they get from him -- a sense of smug superiority. (Well, that, and the other thing they really need - someone to blame when things don't go their way.)

Let me confess that while I've started reading The Moscow Times in the last year, for coverage of Russian news, I've been reading Pravda for several years, off and on, because it's a lot more entertaining. And sometimes, like when it discusses the USofA's quest for a foreign policy, it's also thought-provoking.

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark joins candidates Dick Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich in supporting latest attempt at a constitutional amendment to "prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

Thereby desecrating the flag that stands for the right to desecrate it.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:54 AM


Out of curiosity, why is it that candidates the ABA considered qualified are no longer qualified in the eyes of the Left?

Posted by: Andrew at November 17, 2003 11:08 AM

Have no friends not equal to yourself.

Posted by: McGrath Ian at December 10, 2003 10:14 AM