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April 11, 2003
The American Dream

Note: I always feel as though I should apologize for these long, half thought-out rants, but then the reassuring thought occurs to me that this is not a class assignment, no one has to read any of it if they don't want to, and Dave Barry is still blogging for those who are looking for entertainment.

The New American Dream

It is time for a change. The market crash, the ensuing recession, the worsening societal inequality--these are not normal cyclical downturns or growing pains. We are in a crucial transitional stage. The nature of our economy is changing; the nature of what people want from our economy is changing. A whole new system for creating wealth is taking shape, a new kind of capitalism that is powerful and full of promise, but far from fully formed. Yet neither party is proposing measures that might help it along because neither appears to grasp what's going on.
Finally. It's about time someone said this. (Okay, lots of people are saying this, but another voice added to the discussion is always good. And there's some fascinating stuff in this article.)
Yet both parties disregard these dynamics and put forth "old economy" solutions: tax cuts, financial incentives, and fiscal pump-priming, along with financial safety nets, tariffs, and other favors to protect big firms. I've seen similar measures fail in nearly 20 years of research on state and local economic development. Desperate to keep firms and industries, and to lure new ones, many cities and regions bled themselves with tax cuts, building projects, and other costly incentives. To uphold their sinking "major league" status, many squandered scarce public funds on dramatic gestures like new stadiums, which diverted the public's attention but added little or nothing to their region's creative capacity. The result was counterproductive: Existing firms and industries downsized their payrolls anyway, while growth flourished in places like the San Francisco Bay Area and Boston, which actually had higher costs but better creative climates. Today we are reprising this flawed strategy at the national level. The real key to driving the economy forward and "completing" our emergent creative system doesn't lie in financial incentives alone but in summoning innovation--human creativity.
I could quote the whole article, but instead I'll let you go read it.

Go on. I'll wait.

Back? Good.

My point, which I want to add to this article, is that what's needed today isn't going to be provided by the party currently in power. I know, that's rather a bold statement and certainly Florida didn't suggest any such thing, but I believe that the right-wing Conservatives currently in the White House are intrinsically inimical to the kind of culture Florida is discussing.

Most people, including those on the lowest rungs, have a bigger vision, and it isn't "the chance to get rich," the line Reagan once borrowed from Lincoln. It's Jefferson's idea: the pursuit of happiness. The dream is to reap intrinsic rewards from our work rather than merely be "compensated" for the time and effort we put in.
A key concept here, and one that Florida overlooks, is freedom. People aren't bailing on factory jobs in favor of becoming hair stylists entirely because of "creativity" or "happiness," okay? Well, okay, happiness. But not just creativity-fueled happiness. They're in search of freedom-fueled happiness. (Creativity doesn’t come without freedom, and I consider freedom the "larger" concept.) They want to cut the 9-5 shackles of the factory floor or the cubicle farm and structure their lives, and their time, to suit themselves.

Why stay in a 9-5 job waiting for the next round of layoffs so that your corporation can move your job to an underdeveloped country, give the CEO a multi-million dollar bonus, and add fifty cents to the retail cost of the product to cover "moving expenses"? Why put up with a supervisor keeping an eagle-eye on the time-clock and sending you to the principle's office for showing up sixty seconds later than the Officially Approved Start Moment?

Hey, the corporations started it, okay?

They're the ones who started with the downsizing and the making people do the work or two or three employees and the whining about shrinking profits preventing them from paying workers a living wage and then paying the CEO's millions upon millions of dollars, even in years when profits really did shrink and creative accounting that meant some corporations went belly-up, sucking down the pension hopes of thousands of workers.

So, the USofA workers are turning their backs on the American...excuse me...Multinational Corporation, and it serves the MultCorp right. There's more to life than hanging on to a dead-end job by sheer white-knuckled determination.

In short, we're tired of you and we don't want any, thanks.

And, to get back to my point, the increase in freedom, in the pursuit of happiness, and in creativity, is going to bring a Liberal majority back into power. Because, no offense, creativity and the rights and abilities of the individual as just not what the Conservatives are all about.

They're about stasis, conformity, obedience, and the status quo. The only changes they approve of are the ones making government smaller (well, in theory, although it doesn't work that way under Bush) and eliminating taxes on corporations and the wealthy.* That's what "Conservative" means. It's about things not changing. (That's an oversimplification, I know.)

(*Teeny side rant – At the point where the U.S. Supreme Court inexplicably ruled that a corporation was a "person" under the law and entitled to all of the same rights, someone should have thought to start enforcing that concept 100 percent. So that, for example, corporations would be subject to the exact, same tax laws as every other individual in the country. Heh.)

Conservative agendas don't foster individual creativity, okay? They're good for big corporations, of course. Especially the smaller government thing.

If you have a smaller government, it helps to have fewer laws they need to enforce. If you can get rid of those pesky anti-trust laws, for instance, you could save a lot of government time and money. And those annoying environmental protection laws. Those, if properly enforced, would suck up a lot of government resources. Better get rid of those, too.

(Bush is working on these and other items, even as we speak.)

(Well, no, he's not, because it's Friday and I don't think he's missed spending a weekend in Camp David since he was appointed to office, except when he was on vacation somewhere else. But Cheney's probably got a memo out.)

Conservatives want to roll back the clock on dozens of pieces of legislation enacted over the past two or three decades. It's not enough to maintain the status quo, a lot of these people haven't yet come to grips with changes made twenty or thirty years ago, and they'd just as soon those changes could be erased, thankyouverymuch.

The Right isn't about individual freedom. They're not happy with many of the freedoms guaranteed by law in this country and, as we've all seen over the past few months, they're working hard to get a lot of them tossed out. Abortion, gay rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, little things like those. The version of Conservative in power today think it's a darned good idea that we should trade a few Constitutional freedoms in for a more ordered, more "secure" society. (I think they'd be happier if they were dealing with a more lockstep kind of mentality, like the ones that tend to make up their own voter base.)

You don't hear many Liberals calling for a more ordered society. It's the sort of thing that can stifle creativity.

Liberals don't tend to organize around repressive movements, either.

'Spiritual warfare' looms

Washington is trying to portray its battle as one of liberation, not conquest, but Iraq is about to be invaded by thousands of U.S. evangelical missionaries who say they are bent on a "spiritual warfare" campaign to convert the country's Muslims to Christianity.
Admittedly the article is a trifle sensational and not all of these people see their primary mission in Iraq as converting the heathens, but the younger Mr. Graham, head of the Southern Baptist Convention, " has made it clear that the conversion of Muslims to Christianity is a goal for his volunteers."

I'm just saying, okay? You don't catch 25,000 Liberals shipping themselves en mass to another country to explain how people ought to worship whatever deity they worship.

In one major project, Baptist families have been asked to put together "gift of love" food boxes designed to provide a month's worth of basic nourishment to a family of five. "Please do not place any additional items/literature inside the box," the families are told. Mr. Porter, who runs the program, explained that this is to prevent them from being seen as missionary packages.

However, on the outside of each box will be a label bearing an Arabic translation of John 1:17: "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

Should I be giving them credit for getting half a clue or a huge demerit for choosing one of the most obnoxious quotations they could find?

I'm not dissing religion, okay? Anyone's religion. I'm just saying. This is not an example of religious tolerance, which I think any conscientious person should practice both in and outside their country's borders. I think you should believe in what you believe in. If these people really believed in religious tolerance, they'd necessarily have to support it both here and abroad, don't you think?

Religious intolerance in the USofA isn't an anomaly. It's a significant Conservative movement.

(Okay, forget what I said. I am dissing religion, okay? I'm sick of hearing about the wars fought worldwide over a difference in supernatural beliefs. It's bad enough when people fight over something real like land or human rights or something. When they start killing each other over vaguely understood extracts from badly translated mythological texts, it's criminal. I say we ask the U.N. to put an international ban on any religion that's used as an excuse to kill someone. Of course, I also want to ban tailgating, so I accept that I tend to be radical sometimes.)

I know, I'm getting sidetracked. I usually do.

No more about religion. Back to the "new creativity" and the changes Florida sees coming in the economy.

These aren't, as he seems to imply, forces that can be harnessed by either of the current parties. The Republican party, by nature of what it is, cannot encourage and foster this new movement. I'm not saying Republicans are intrinsically evil or that they're against The People. I'm saying that they've let themselves be taken over by what used to be an extremist faction and that until they clean their house, they're not in a position to deal with a radical shift in the foundation of our economy. As long as they're led by men who think bringing "democracy" to Iraq means installing a foundation of corporate economic power, the Republican party will, in my eyes, remain a force for evil.)

The Democratic party, if it returns to its Liberal base, can harness this power. Granted, they have a ways to go before they get back to what they should be.

(One day, very soon, I'm going to sit down and ferret out the voting records of the current Democratic candidates for nomination and figure out which one I trust the most...or distrust the least.)

The point is that most of us no longer look forward to becoming a cog in a corporate hamster wheel. The cubicle farm isn't the be-all and end-all of our existence. We're tired of the big corporations. Maybe we owe them a vote of thanks for cutting the cord and shaking us all out of our ruts, I don't know.

I do know that I agree with Florida's article. There's a New Dream in the USofA, and it has nothing to do with being a corporate clone.

There's more to life than work. Work is important. It helps define us and, at its best, can give us deep satisfaction. It's just that many of us have discovered that that satisfaction isn't going to come while we're surrounded by three walls built of acoustic fabric.

So...I look forward to seeing more and more people bail out on corporate life and opt for small businesses of their own. I look forward to the day, possibly not far off, when corporations export jobs to other countries because no one in the USofA will work under their conditions any more. In fact, I look forward to the day when those undeveloped countries also kick the conglomerates out because they've become developed and have decided that there's more to life than the hamster wheel of production. When the conglomerates have to dissolve into smaller parts in order to survive.

Ever-increasing levels of production are good for corporations, okay? They're not good for consumers. Beyond a certain point, consuming is a habit, not a need. (And I speak from experience, as a frequent shopper.)

Anyhow. I'm getting sidetracked again, I know. Back to the point.

People today want lives. They want freedom. They want time to pursue happiness, both on and off the job. They want neighborhoods and friends and leisure activities for themselves and their families. They want people to have health care. They want their neighbors and friends to have food on the table and roofs over their heads.

These are Liberal causes. They have nothing to do with Conservatives.

Conservatives, I'm sorry to say, generally tend to act as though the poor are poor because they deserve it and that collecting shekels is an end in itself. (I'm not a big believer in huge sums of inherited wealth. It doesn't seem to do the second generation any good to spend their lives living with that silver spoon in their nose mouth.)

Liberals tend to act, on the other hand, as though the poor are poor because someone else is hogging up all the money. That's too simplistic. Money is just how you keep score, I get that. What the poor need are real opportunities.

We need to teach people to fish, not make someone else give them a nice piece of cod for dinner. Taxes should be spent on aid programs that have a huge education component. Most of the poor are poor for lack of opportunity and knowledge. Those are things we can cure.

But that's not what Conservatives are about. That's what Liberals are about, okay? Providing opportunity.

Opportunities like affirmative action which, no matter what critics today say, opened the doors of universities and colleges for tens of thousands of hopeful, hardworking minority students.

It's our fault, okay? We can't really blame the Conservatives. We got lazy. We won a few battles, sighed in relief, and turned our attention to other things. Unfortunately, while we weren't watching, a chunk of the right-wing of the Right started moving in and taking over the playground.

I haven't read, The Emerging Democratic Majority yet, but I bought it, and my thought is that, when I do read it, I'm probably going to decide that the authors were just a little ahead of their time.

In the meantime, you should read this.

I'll bet you get pissed when you read all the way to the end of one of these rants and realize I didn't have an actual point, don't you?

Posted by AnneZook at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)
Why Won't Johnny Vote? THE

Why Won't Johnny Vote?

THE VANISHING VOTER: Public Involvement in an Age of Uncertainty

Another one I need to order.

For the record, and if anyone is interested, I finished my quasi-review of What Liberal Media? and intend to get it transcribed this weekend.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)
Embedded and in bed

The problem with embedding is when it takes the place of thinking. This piece offers to prove that, but what it really proves is that for those journalists who sold their souls for an inside track at the White House, nothing seems to stick in their throats. Not even massaging the presidential image to contradict the White House's own statements, if the Rove Machine decides it's necessary.

Honestly, I have to question the point at which we should stop calling these people "journalists" and start referring to them as part of the Administration Spin Staff.

I don't understand is how a million or so otherwise seemingly intelligent people can continue to pretend that that man is fit to be sitting where he's sitting. How can they look at what's happening, read "news coverage" that blatantly contradicts what we know to be true, and gullibly swallow patent falsehoods day after day? Maybe they're dumber than they seem to be, I don't know.

Of course, I also don't know how the war, and the White House, look to people who watch the nightly news and scan the daily headlines uncritically. I suppose if you make a real effort not to engage your brain, it might be barely possible to approve of what's going on.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)
Various unrelated items Struggling to

Various unrelated items

Struggling to stay on-theme, but failing.

The editorial in the Washington Post is right. Republican Representative Barbara Cubin's remarks are worse than what Lott said and we need a little outrage.

In another part of the world, Hans Blix gets a clue:

"There is evidence that this war was planned well in advance. Sometimes this raises doubts about [the USofA] attitude to the (weapons) inspections," Blix told Spanish daily El Pais.
Another interview you're not likely to see made much of in the USofA press.

Undernews has an informative take on that dramatic statue toppling that we're all already sick of seeing replayed on television. Essentially, as most of us have at least tacitly acknowledged by now, it was stage-managed for USofA television cameras.

How embarrassing it is to be us some days.

I don't think Salam Pax is coming back. Will we ever know if he survived the bombing? If he was conscripted at the eleventh hour? If he was one of those fleeing Baghdad and now roaming the country homeless?

I've lost the link, but some time back, I posted about a lengthy article detailing the growing use of "private armies" in international peacekeeping, by both governments (well, our government) and corporations (well, USofA corporations). Looks like we're about to see it in action.

And, over at The Nation, Naomi Klein makes a pretty good case for the idea that "multinational" (read: USofA with tentacles all over the world) corporations are slicing and dicing the profit pie of Iraq. They're not being shy about it, either.

California Republican Congressman Darrel Issa has introduced a bill that would require the Defense Department to build a CDMA cell-phone system in postwar Iraq in order to benefit "US patent holders. As Farhad Manjoo noted in Salon, CDMA is the system used in the United States, not Europe, and was developed by Qualcomm, one of Issa's most generous donors. "
How embarrassing it is to be us some days.

Was all of that talk about standing firm on restraining tax cuts to a "modest" $350B just talk? Maybe, maybe not. Yeah, the House passed a package "endorsing up to $550B" but a quick scan of Congressional activity over the past couple of months shows that the House is much more firmly under Bush's thumb than the Senate. Let's hope moderate Republicans stand firmly on the side of fiscal responsibility. (There was a day I wouldn't have believed I'd hear myself chiding Republicans for governmental overspending. How the might have fallen.)

I'm not chiding TomPaine.com for their coverage of the Rumsfeld-Iraq relationship but I do wonder where this coverage was when it would have been useful...in the run-up to war when people really needed all the facts.

Need a little ammo to show that Republicans can be scary, or just need a laugh at some idiot's expense? Check out this BuzzFlash collection of Ridiculous GOP Quotes. I hope they add to this collection. It would make a worthy companion volume to the ones detailing Bush's fight with his mother tongue.

On a more serious note, pop over here and read about how a politician's view of "the system" changes depending on whether or not their party is in power. And about how the Republicans are taking advantage of their temporary majority.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

Okay, so today is blogging for peace day. I think I'll do my bit by blogging about peaceful things.

The women of Qatar are part of a movement to bring change to their country while struggling for a balance that continues to respect their Muslim heritage.

Here's a history article on the roots of the Baath Party in Iraq. It's about the change the West imported to the Middle East. Perhaps not quite as peacefully as the day's theme would require.

The government continues its peaceful dismantling of our protected environments as the U.S. House approves oil drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge.

As a counterpoint to guns-and-bullets war coverage, CBS contemplates What Hasn't Happened In Iraq. No chemical weapons, no attacks with biological contaminants, no weapons of mass destruction, no missiles lobbed at Israel. Nothing.

From the start of the war, Saddam Hussein has been portrayed as a leader who would stop at nothing to keep his regime alive. Yet, as the war winds down, none of these darker scenarios has happened.

There have been no terrorist attacks on America. Iraq hasn't demolished holy sites and blamed the destruction on the West. And while Iraqi soldiers have disguised themselves as civilians, the Pentagon says there have been no reports, as initially predicted, of troops donning look-alike U.S. and British uniforms to commit atrocities against Iraqis.

How disappointing for our government. (For those of you who heard rumors of the discover of nukes in Iraq, be aware that that material was known to the U.N. inspectors, okay?)

Cuba has been giving their dissidents trials! That's a good step, yes? Of course, they were one day trials, purely PR moves by the government, but at least these 75 guys have the satisfaction of knowing that if they were, in fact, collaborating with the USofA to bring down Castro's government, they got their day in court.

“Nearly 80 representatives of a growing and truly independent civil society have been arrested, convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in summary, secret trials,” Mr. Powell said in a statement. “Their only crime was seeking basic human rights and freedoms.”
Independent civil society? Cuba? I am so losing respect for Powell.

Over at the History News Network, P.M.Carpenter gives us a peaceful and amusing little column. "Yesterday's Emergency Has Been Cancelled Due to Political Inconvenience " It's about the changing PR face of the war.

Krugman, who doesn't seem to have gotten the memo, writes not-so-peacefully about conquest and neglect.

I sympathize with him. It's hard to be peaceful when there's war all around.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)
April 10, 2003

Robert Fisk writes about liberating Baghdad.

"It is the beginning of our new freedom," an Iraqi shopkeeper shouted at me. Then he paused, and asked: "What do the Americans want from us now?'
What, indeed? I'm sorry, Mr. Shopkeeper, but that information doesn't seem to be available under FOIA.

Fisk doesn't shy away from other truths, either.

It was a symbolic moment in more ways than one. I stood behind the first man to seize a hatchet and smash at the imposing grey marble plinth. But within seconds, the marble had fallen away to reveal a foundation of cheap bricks and badly cracked cement. That's what the Americans always guessed Saddam's regime was made of, although they did their best – in the late Seventies and early Eighties – to arm him and service his economy and offer him political support, to turn him into the very dictator he became.
I give him credit for being one of the few journalists I've seen talking openly about the USofA's previous support for Bush's #1 Most Wanted.

Natasha Walter is just as blunt on the subject of news coverage of the war.

The reporters based in Baghdad have been doing a far better job. It's not their fault that in most television news bulletins the civilian casualties are either sidelined or presented to us as objects for our generous charity, as has happened with Ali Ismail Abbas, the boy whose arms were blown off and who is now going to be the target for grandstanding coalition compassion after having been the target of grim coalition brutality.
(The point of her article, by the way, is that the internet "won" the battle for covering the war because on the net you can find coverage from other countries, and other perspectives, and people can talk to each other freely.)

But the USofA press isn't entirely muzzled. You can find signs of freedom, like in the Chicago Tribune, which at least mentioned "how small the crowd of Iraqis around the statue really was."

Matt Miller over at the Washington Monthly offers congratulations to President Clinton on how his military handled Iraq. (A few days before, on March 2, he offered some speculation on how it might look if everything the gov'mint did was covered 24/7. You can access his archives to read it. Highly entertaining.)

And, finally, if you check out Undernews, you can read Sam Smith talking about the generation gap this war has exposed – between those who knew war and today's younger generations to whom war is a remote, sanitized process.

And, in the Hey! Hey! department, look what Argentina is doing. Can we do that? Please?

I think that's enough for one day, don't you? Back to work now....

Posted by AnneZook at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)
Physicians For Human Rights I'm

Physicians For Human Rights

I'm ashamed that I haven't been to this site since last fall. It's full of good stuff, including those valuable links to e-mail addresses and phone numbers you need in order to add your voice to those standing up and expressing an opinion.


They sent Bush a stern letter about torturing prisoners or detainees or enemy combatants whatever fancy-dancing term the Administration is using in an attempt to sidestep the Geneva Conventions.

It's been over a month, but I doubt you saw coverage of it in the national press. I don't blame the press entirely. It must be difficult to try to "cover" a story when the Administration stonewalls you on it, refusing to even make comments, citing that "national security" is more important than a handful of mistreated human beings.. There's nothing to write about in that case.

Still, I don't think it's an issue that we can afford to let drop. It sets a dangerous precedent, especially with the Republicans currently fighting to make the temporary powers of the Patriot Act permanent.

Also, that national security thing? I know I've whined about this before, but who in the heck does this Administration think they're supposed to be protecting, if not individual human beings? Are they under the impression that the country can somehow get along without the people?

Oh, silly me. They're protecting corporations and rich people, of course. Rich people don't get arrested and tortured, no matter what they do. Corporations known to have done illegal business with Iraq over the last ten years can rest easy. Their CEOs and other executives aren't going to be hauled in and held incommunicado for months on end.

The same group (PHR), has protested Egyptian torture of detainees (anti-war protesters) in recent days as well.

And again they protest, this one apparently published in the Washington Post in January. (I must have missed it when it originally came out.)

Recent reports that US intelligence operatives and military police are torturing captured al Qaeda and Taliban suspects are but the latest evidence of the United States' disgraceful handling of detainees in its war on terrorism. For the past year we have known that US Special Forces in Afghanistan turned over surrendered combatants to their local allies, who reportedly murdered hundreds of them in captivity. Thousands of others who lay down their weapons were crammed into freezing, filthy, dilapidated cells at Shebergan prison. The United States detains al Qaeda and Taliban captives indefinitely without charge or trial, some imprisoned in secret locations in foreign countries where security services that are known to use torture conduct interrogations on our behalf. These immoral and illegal practices are extremely costly to US interests and ought to be stopped immediately.
As I said before, we're setting a dangerous precedent. Is this what we want the USofA to become?

Ashcroft In Action

Refugee Women at Risk

Attorney General John Ashcroft is reportedly planning to issue new asylum regulations which will severely limit the ability of women fleeing domestic violence, trafficking, sexual slavery, honor killing, and other gender-related human rights abuses from seeking asylum in the United States.
Go. Click around. Read. Send a few letters, make a phone call, send an e-mail or two.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)
Beyond Sanctions

A decade of sanctions has seriously damaged the overall health of the Iraqi population, and war isn't going to help. (Especially, I might add, if the USofA doesn't step up to the plate and do right by the Iraqi people after the shooting stops.)

And I don't mean in some halfhearted Bushite BigTalkNoMoney way, either. We owe them reparations, but if that word is too emotionally loaded, I'm willing to settle for rebuilding. And we should do it through the U.N., which means we need to pay our back dues and stop sulking because everyone didn't cheer when we decided to drop massive numbers of high-tech bombs on a small, underdeveloped country.

There's a battle going on between the Department of Defense, which wants to control all aspects of the relief operation, and other aid organizations like Oxfam and UNICEF, which also want to be in charge, because they feel that purely humanitarian operations should be kept separate from the military.
This isn't the way it reads in the national media, of course.

The DoD isn't making claims in the NYTimes or on CNN that they want to control aid efforts (Is this a part of the failed "hearts and minds" campaign?) but certainly it's something the medical community and the international aid community are aware of. (Eequires registration. Use peevish/peevish if you don't want to register.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)
How Scary Is It?

An investigational drug designed to protect against radiation caused by a nuclear bomb has shown promise in a pilot study involving non-human primates, according to San Diego-based Hollis-Eden Pharmaceuticals, the drug's developer. Hollis-Eden said its regulating hormone HE2100 would protect most people outside the immediate point of explosion from death and hospitalization. When the drug is given 24 hours before or two to four hours after radiation exposure, there is a significant reduction in neutropenia (a severe loss of white blood cells), the company said. The company will conduct a larger, late-stage trial and, if the results are positive and the drug gets FDA approval, the drug could be available to the public by 2004.

How scary is it that people understand that getting nuked is a real possibility?

This is scary, okay? (At least, for those of us who remember the "duck and cover" days, it's scary.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

Right-winger Rupert Murdoch's Empire Gets Bigger? I think that headline pretty much says it all.

If I didn't know better, I'd think the media was in trouble of becoming a homogenized, corporate-sponsored shill for Big Business interests.

Oh, wait. What am I saying? I don't know better.

Read Norah Vincent in the LATimes today. She says, "When the Dunce Patrol Is Removed, What's Left Is Encouraging"

The intellectual left seems to be undergoing a long-awaited if quiet renaissance, the catalyst for which was 9/11. Yet this rebirth has gone largely unnoticed, mostly because the lunatic fringe of the movement, prone as it is to public tantrums and outbursts of appalling hyperbole, has commandeered the spotlight and become the default voice of the left.
(It's a follow-up on an earlier column which I assume you read, as all intelligent people should have.)

Also, if there's anyone here who hasn't been reading Back To Iraq, you should be ashamed.

It's a pity the USofA and the UK can't turn their attention to situations worse than the one in Iraq, with the intention of doing something to bring peace. 4.7 million people are dead. How many bodies does it take to awaken our consciences when the injustices aren't taking place on top of an oil field?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)
How Scary Is It? How

How Scary Is It?

How scary is it that the OpinionJournal is smearing the State Department?

Isn't that, like, sort of UnAmerican? UnPatriotic? Bashing Bush's Administration while we're fighting this highly patriotic war and stuff? Hasn't this same publication been loudly calling for the blood of those who publicly oppose the Administration when we're all at war and should be pretending to be united?

Oh, wait. The State Department disagrees with Bush. I see, that makes it okay to take potshots at the State Department. I was confused there for a minute, wasn't I? I thought the OpinionJournal was supporting the gov'mint. They're just supporting the Bush/Cheneyites.

Anyhow. How scary is it that the OpinionJournal, with nary another indicator that they've fallen into farce, refers to Chalabi as a "freedom fighter"?

I always enjoy reading Molly Ivins. Bush Offers Crooks and Warmongers to Lead Iraq, she says. And, as always, she backs it up with just enough facts to tempt you to go and learn more about it yourself. (Also, she opposes the installation of Chalabi as the new head of an Iraqi government, which proves she's smart. If you had any doubts.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)
Cheers, Jeers, Looting, and Liberation

Cheers, Jeers, Looting, and Liberation

It seems that there aren't likely to be any of those dastardly Weapons of Much Destruction found in Iraq. It also seems that there are some who think it wouldn't be beneath the USofA to smuggle chemical weapons in to Iraq and then produce them as "proof" of the gov'mint's claims.

I agree that it's not beneath us, but I don't think we'll do it.

I mean, we might but something like that leaves an awfully big footprint. It would be hard to do.

In any case, right now, with Iraqis cheering in the streets, I doubt that the USofA gov'mint cares about WMD any more. They've been dropping that theme in favor of chanting about "regime change" for several weeks now, anyhow. Unless the media (Hah!) presses them on the subject, I'm sure they'll be glad to let it drop.

Sounding a warning note, and a much-needed one, Seumas Milne in The Guardian, speaks of this fraudulent war in Iraq, and of Afghanistan.

For most Afghans, "liberation" has meant the return of rival warlords, harsh repression, rampant lawlessness, widespread torture and Taliban-style policing of women. Meanwhile, guerrilla attacks are mounting on US troops - special forces soldiers have been killed in recent weeks, while 11 civilians died yesterday in an American air raid - and the likelihood of credible elections next year appears to be close to zero.
Also? Those of you who read only the USofA press need to be very skeptical. There are Iraqis cheering in the streets of Baghdad, yes, but not as many as there are looting.
It's hard to smile when there's no water. It's hard to applaud when you're frightened. It's hard to say, "Thank you for liberating me," when liberation has meant that looters have ransacked everything from the grain silos to the local school, where they even took away the blackboard.
To those who say all of this lawlessness is pure high spirits over the downfall of the Hussein regime? Rioting, shouts of joy, overturning cars, setting fires, breaking shop windows, looting, a sort of mob-induced frenzy that includes fighting against the entrenched authority figures and cheering when one falls - no it isn't Iraq, it's the end of any of half a dozen or more college football games here in the USofA over the last year or two.

I'm just saying, okay? Let's have a little context.

What's happening today in Iraq isn't a sign of what the future will bring. Just as the cheers in Afghanistan didn't mean that they were really about to be any better off in six months than they were the day we stormed into their country and started shooting. Even the Iraqis are already starting to ask, "what's next" as they begin to view their "liberators" with suspicion.

Also, do read the International Herald Tribune and Thomas Friedman's Thomas L. Friedman: You broke it? Now you own it. The amount of cheering and celebration the coalition troops are facing isn't quite as overwhelming or universal as this morning's headlines suggest.

The Rest of the West Is Less Than Impressed with Baghdad's "liberation party" too.


Here and there around the net, people are (rightfully) up in arms about the report of a "jail for children" discovered in Iraq. I wonder if those same tenderhearted folks are going to become equally outraged over reports that "Jewish extremists" from Israel might have bombed a playground full of Palestinian children?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)
Speaking of Idiots

Okay, the guy shouldn't have said what he said, but considering the audience he was addressing, it doesn't surprise me that he said it. And I'm not joining the folks protesting just yet. Before I do that, I want to know if he's ever imposed his religious beliefs on others, or shown bias against faiths he doesn't share. In the end, he's another Bush appointee and could be another reflection of the Administration's disdain for the separation of Church and State, but he might not be. I'm not shouting until I know one way or the other.

Speaking of idiots, it's probably a good thing they didn't release the name of the guy who, knowing he was potentially infected with SARS and not feeling at all well, violated quarantine to show up for work and potentially contaminate 197 other people. Where was his brain?

Congressional idiots? Business as usual? Or no business at all? I don't think the House and Senate can agree to disagree and retire to their respective corners to sulk, okay? That ain't how the government runs. This whole tax cut thing is getting out of hand. Of course, I still think, considering the huge deficit it's going to create, that any tax cut at all is grossly irresponsible. On the other hand, I like the idea that the government might spend a year fighting about it behind the scenes. Until the House and Senate agree, there won't be any tax cut, that's very clear.

Maybe "no business at all" isn't such a bad solution?

The Republicans really need to get their people under control, don't they? This isn't the first sign we've seen that racism is alive and well in the party today and it won't be the last. We can't, and shouldn't, try and legislate what people feel and think, but how they behave is another matter.

(On the other hand, these little hiccups do reveal the fundamental bias of many of the Republicans "in charge" today, which isn't a bad thing. Shows us how far we still have to go before true equality is achieved.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)
April 09, 2003


Proposed smirking ban raises eyebrows

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A raised eyebrow, loud guffaw, smirk or other facial expressions could all be banned in future political debate under new rules proposed for the city council in Palo Alto, California.

In a bid to improve civility in the town's public discourse, a committee on the city council has spent hours debating guidelines for its own behaviour.

"Do not use body language or other nonverbal methods of expression, disagreement or disgust," a new list of proposed conduct rules reads.

Another rule calls for council members to address each other with titles followed by last names, a formality not always practised in laid-back California.

"I don't want to muzzle my colleagues," councilwoman Judy Kleinberg, who headed the committee that drafted the rules, told the San Jose Mercury News. But, she added: "I don't think the people sitting around the cabinet with the president roll their eyes."

For the record, I'm pretty sure she's wrong about that.

Anyhow. If I lived in Palo Alto, I'd show up with my eyebrows raised every day and claim that they just grew that way. Sheesh

It's sort of a shame these people don't understand that democratic (small 'd') debate occasionally engenders some heated disagreement and that that's a healthy thing.

Or, maybe it's just that the level of discussion in their meetings is this pointlessly obnoxious. Either way, it sounds better than my job, which is putting me to sleep this afternoon.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)
All War, All the Time

All War, All the Time

McCain: Special interests fatten war bill

One of them is funding for a program to control an alien species called the sea lamprey, an eel-like parasite that is threatening to kill Lake Champlain's native trout and salmon.

"This funding was not requested by the administration, nor do sea lamprey[s] pose a clear and present danger to our national security," McCain said.

Spotlight shifts to Iraq's weapons
As the regime in Baghdad crumbles, the spotlight is turning once again to the search for Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction - on whose existence Washington based its case for an invasion.

CIA report slams Pentagon's favorite Iraqi
A U.S. official familiar with the CIA report told United Press International Monday, "This is about the Iraqi interim authority. It discusses the factors likely to affect the legitimacy and acceptability of an Iraqi transitional authority in the eyes of the Iraqi public. In part it looks at Iraqi attitudes toward the Iraqi opposition and how the INC is viewed on the inside."

CIA Pushed Iraqi Opposition Out of Southern Town
A local militia opposed to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein took control of the southeastern city of Amara on Sunday but a CIA officer told them to withdrew under threat of bombing, opposition officials said on Tuesday.

Crippled Home Front
The Department of Veterans Affairs is being targeted for billions in cuts. Evidently, President Bush's support for the troops doesn't include their health care.

You could read Neal Pollack if you think you're the only one being driven crazy by this war.

And, speaking of war. Is North Korea is next? Or is it going to be Syria?)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

Light blogging today - too much work to do.

Gulf War Syndrome II. Already?

A toxic stew of smoke, sand and depleted uranium is already make troops sick, but it looks like the Pentagon is once again ducking its responsibility for their health.
Senior Democrats want investigation of Cheney's former company
Halliburton's KBR subsidiary has a record of gouging the government in contracts awarded without competition, Representatives Henry Waxman of California and John Dingell of Michigan contended in a letter to the General Accounting Office.
The story in the Arab press:

Massacre in Gaza: seven Palestinians killed, 50 wounded, Abu Mazin face internal pressures

Israel yesterday committed a new massacre, which was almost forgotten amid news on the American invasion of Iraq, during which seven Palestinians were killed including an official at the Hamas movement and his escort and other 50 Palestinians were wounded including women and children, when Israeli F-16 jets and Apache helicopters bombarded a civilian car while running in a residential quarters in Gaza.
The story in USofAPress:

"Israel Kills Hamas Figure, 5 Others in Gaza"

Israeli AH-64 Apache helicopters fired missiles into a car driving along a street in central Gaza City tonight, killing at least six Palestinians and wounding 48 in an attack aimed at a local militant leader, according to Palestinian witnesses and hospital officials.
GOP wants to keep anti-terror powers Broad spying tools would become permanent
Congressional Republicans, working with the Bush administration, are maneuvering to make permanent the sweeping anti-terrorism powers granted to federal law enforcement agents after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, officials said Tuesday.
US bomb kills 11 Afghan civilians
Eleven Afghan civilians were killed today when a US warplane pursuing enemy attackers mistakenly bombed a house near Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan, the US military said.
Britain's inglorious experience in Iraq
There was a shortcut for Britain and the United States to demonstrate their care for the well-being of the Arab people. They could have forced Israel to implement long outstanding UN Security Council resolutions calling for its withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza, and helped the Palestinians build a modern democratic state, and then people all over the Arab world, and beyond, would by now have been bestowing their benediction on President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain.
The Company Way What does Iraq need? Corporations. How surprising. The Wall Street Journal announcing that a corporate infrastructure will solve all of Iraq's problems.

Footage shows tank deliberately hit hotel

Footage filmed by France 3 television of a strike on a hotel which killed two journalists in Baghdad today shows a US tank targeting the journalists' hotel and waiting at least two minutes before firing.
Catfish get $500K, but shrimp, $4M
“Congress porked-out at record levels,” says Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) in a report due out today. According to the group, the 13 annual appropriations bills included 9,362 special-interest projects costing $22.5 billion.
The smart donor's guide to aid for Iraq

US media dig deep for politicians Political donations by US media companies

Political donations by US television and radio stations have almost doubled in the last year, research has shown.
It's All About the Approach
Fred Hiatt's March 31 op-ed column, which purported to show the similarities between the Bush and Clinton positions on matters such as the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court and the ABM Treaty, inadvertently made the opposite point: that the subtle differences between the two presidents' approaches have made a world of difference in our diplomatic relationships.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)