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May 23, 2003

Because it's late on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend and I'm tired of politics.

Richard Just's article pleased me, not because it confirmed my own opinion that West Wing is less about liberalism than it is about intelligence and commitment, but because it confirmed my opinion that John Goodman's appearance on the final episode this year could have been a piece of stunt casting.

I'm willing to reserve judgment (after being slapped in the fact by those who are apparently appalled that I'm not aware of Goodman's Great Acting Talent), but my first reaction when he appeared on-screen was, "Oh, no! It's the Roseanne! guy!" and nothing that happens in the future is going to change what my first reaction was.

It's probably not going to change the reactions of the others of millions of viewers who didn't see whatever short-lived series Goodman had a couple of appearances on, either. Maybe he will turn out to be a Great Talent, but for the next three months, he's going to be the "Roseanne guy" in my house and unless the people in charge of casting on WW are insane, they know that 80% or more of their audience knows Goodman from only the one show.

I hate stunt casting. I hate a show that's as rich and complex as West Wing breaking the spell by bringing in a major character who is a "face" from another role. I think Lily Tomlin is great, but even when she's being the President's secretary, she's still Lily Tomlin when I look at her. Fortunately, she's a minor, occasional character.

When I look at Josh, I just see Josh (even though I've seen the actor in other parts.) Ditto for Toby, Donna, and the others. Even Sam was just Sam, in spite of the many previous times I'd seen Rob Lowe. They don't break the spell.

With a party like this one, one that has to be pivotal in the first few episodes next year, I'd have preferred an actor without so much baggage. That's all I'm saying.

And I haven't watched the BtVS show-ending episode yet. In fact, I haven't watched either of the last two episodes yet, but surely with a three-day weekend, I'll find time?

Beautiful Words

And, finally, to those who say that the on-line world contains no liberals gifted with rhetorical grace, I offer Lewis Lapham's "Hope For What Might Be.

"It is the business of the future to be dangerous, and most of the people who magnify its risks do so for reasons of their own. Jealous of a future apt to render them ridiculous or irrelevant, they bear comparison to the French noblewoman, a duchess in her 80s, who, on seeing the first ascent of Montgolfier's balloon from the palace of the Tuilleries in 1783, fell back upon the cushions of her carriage and wept. "Oh yes," she said, "Now it's certain. One day they'll learn how to keep people alive forever, but I shall already be dead."
If it is the business of the future to be dangerous, then surely the future is upon us, for we live in dangerous times.

Dangerous for what we call democracy, dangerous for civil liberty, and dangerous for the survival of cultures not our own but possessing their own beauties and value. Citizens of this country rarely stir themselves to protest the inner machinations of those in power, but when they do wake, they shake the foundations of the world.

Those in power have decided that Benjamin Franklin was wrong. That you can and should those who would sacrifice liberty for safety while still deserving both.

I suspect that those who believe this further believe that we're not all entitled to the same measure of liberty and that their safely lies in keeping the majority of us cabin'd, cribb'd, confined.

[Deleted – 500 words on the importance of citizen activism these days. I demand gratitude for not making you wade through that! kidding]

Posted by AnneZook at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)
Following Up

(First. I don't support the building of a visitor's center at the Vietnam Memorial. There may come a day when the cost of that war is no longer understood, but not if our schools do their jobs, and then a balanced view of those days might be appropriate.

Until then, leave the Wall alone.)

At least those now-famous Texas Legislators had the sense to leave town, so they couldn't be hauled around like dimestore dummies. Or Republicans. Heh. Heh.

And it's encouraging to see that an investigation of Homeland Security Shenanigans is still underway.

Bogus, bogus, bogus.

The vast majority of the state's voters -- 75 percent -- said Santorum should not resign as Senate Republican Conference chairman, while 58 percent said homosexuality was morally wrong, the Quinnipiac University poll said.
They didn't poll the "vast majority" of the state's voters, okay? They polled 952 people, of whom just over 1/3 were Democrats. And the poll had a 5.3 percent margin of error which, in polling data, is a huge margin, almost enough to completely invalidate the poll.

I'm not really surprised that William Safire came out against media consolidation. Being a conservative has nothing to do with it. He understands the danger.

It's weird math to refer to the "Democratic majority" that ruled for 40 years after the end of WWII. According to this, that domination ended in 1994? The last time I checked, the 12 years we spend under Reagan and GWBush were pretty thoroughly dominated by the Republican party.

Lemme see. Truman was a Democrat, but the article stipulates a 40-year span, so he's too early.

Starting in 1953, we had the Republican Eisenhower for a couple of terms.
Then there were Democrats JFK and LBJ for a combined 8 years.
After that?
5 years of Republican Nixon.
3 years of Republican Ford.
4 years of Democrat Carter.
8 years of Republican Reagan.
4 years of Republican Bush.

That gives us 28 years of Republican Presidents and 12 years of Democratic Presidents. Doesn't sound to me like an extensive domination of Democrats. Especially when you consider just how conservative the Reagan and GWBush Adminisration's years were.

I never trust, and rarely finish, an article that starts with a bare-faced lie.

Have a nice holiday weekend, all of you USofA citizens. And to the rest of the world, be careful out there, okay?

Posted by AnneZook at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

Here's a nice rundown of what's been happening to this country as the Republicans struggle desperately to create a majority where none exists and, yes, you guessed it, lies our government has told us. It only hits a few big ones but it gives details.

If I ever do give up blogging, I might just post a note every day, telling you to go check out Chris Nelson's blog. I need to update my links list again this weekend.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

I don't know what to say about the tragedy in Algiers. Send a little something to your preferred international aid organization, okay?

General Tommy Franks is retiring after being the second person in a row to decline the honor of being promoted to Army Chief of Staff. Looks like no one wants to run Bush's army.

Is the White House robbing Peter to pay Paul, diverting money desperately needed for aid in Africa to pay for their war in Iraq?

As Solomon points out, it's only terrorism if it hits us. At least in the eyes of the USofA media.

In mid-May, the internationally syndicated columnist Gwynne Dyer wrote a piece noting that the previous week had brought news reports of terrorist attacks in Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco and Israel, resulting in a total of 153 deaths. He observed: "Last week was the worst for terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001. ... Yet there were no headlines last weekend saying '750 people dead of gunshot wounds in the U.S. since Monday' or 'Weekly traffic death toll in India tops 2,000,' and only small headlines that several thousand people had been massacred in the eastern Congolese town of Bunia."
As Solomon also mentions, "terrorism" in this country is mostly a political issue.

Much as I hate to interrupt what is apparently a deeply felt triumphalism on the American right, now that it's over, does anyone see any reason for our having invaded Iraq? (No, the words aren't mine, they're Molly's. For my money, Molly Ivins is one of the best columnists writing today.)

Since when do death row prisoners get to choose their method of execution?

And here's something I like. A list of books to read! Except that even just the NYorker article told me, I think, as much as I need to know about Rove. That coverage, and these two high-profile books should tell all of us, even without the bother of reading them, just exactly how much power Rove wields in Washington.

And I'd say Melvin Goodman is quite wrong. I don't see there being any consequences to the Administration for the lies they told us to convince us to invade Iraq. I'd love to be proved wrong on this one.

And, speaking of lies (talking about this government, I always seem to be speaking of lies, don't I?), remember the $15B for AIDS? It's not exactly going to be $15B for AIDS, you know. The report is full of numbers, but the bottom line is that we'll be spending about $45 million to fight AIDS next year.

Promise: $15,000,000,000
Truth: $45,000,000
This is amazing.

And this is disgraceful. I mean, not that we didn't all know that USofA pharmaceutical companies ship their substandard product to developing countries. They're not the only corporations that use the third-world as a dumping ground. (Remember the baby formula incident?) But they shipped product they knew might be tainted with AIDS? That's...heck, that could be attempted genocide.

I'm pretty sure that's actionable.

And, finally, for those who were wondering about the aftermath of war, after the cameras are gone.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)
May 22, 2003
I'm just saying

I'm just saying

Bumper sticker seen on the back of a wheelchair today:

Build ramps,
Not bombs.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)
Tee, Drive, Par, Eagle, Birdie,

Partridge In A Pear Tree

At this moment, Annika Sorenstam is impressive and this guy is being sort of offensive, but funny in that "men so need to get over themselves" way.

And this article has it right. She's not proving anything for any feminist 'cause' and not making any kind of a stand against male domination. She's just playing golf, and matching herself against the best players she can find around the world. If that means being the first woman in this particular tournament in 58 years, well, who cares?

Read the entire article, it's short but makes some good points.

The fuss and furor surrounding this tournament show how far we have to go toward true equality.

The story shouldn't be her gender. The story should be that she's awesome.

Where's the adulation poured upon Tiger Woods when he started kicking b*tt on every golf course in the country? Is it just because she's not from the USofA?

Why isn't the story, "Who's better – Annika or Tiger? When are they going to face off?"

But, no. It's all about the boys not wanting any girl cooties on the boys' playground.

I'm just saying. If this turns out to be a story about gender and not about golf, it's the men who made it that way. If this turns out to be some kind of "feminist manifesto," the men are going to have to write it, because that's not what Annika is all about.

If this ends up generating a storm of controversy over men-vs-women, it's going to be a shame, because it clouds the only legitimate story, which is the game. (I mean, 'a shame' assuming you care about golf which, quite frankly, I don't.)

The only thing I can figure out is that, like in the funny column linked above, the little boys are scared to death they're going to lose to a girl and the other little boys are going to make fun of them, and how ignorant is that in this day and age? Someone, please tell me there's some more valid argument at the root of all of this than that.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

This is one of those days when every, single thing I read is fascinating, but I just don't have time to comment on it all. It's a pity we can't make our hobbies into our paying jobs, isn't it?

Call me paranoid, but when Bush talks about compassion, I get the urge to buy stock in defense corporations.

Homeland security at work...protecting us from the free press. I guess it's something to do to fill the time when they don't have Democratic legislators to chase around. (Speaking of the Texas legislature, I wonder what Texas Republicans will do now that their chicanery is hitting the news?)

And, speaking of a good giggle, Ari's going to have to make some changes around his family.

And also, I can't remember where I read it this morning (I've hit more than 40 sites today), but in an open note to the person who says the Democrats just don't understand how scared Americans are after 9/11, and how reassuring Cruise Bush looked in his flight suit, and how they love knowing we have a president in office who is wiling to stand up and fight, I say, "Get a clue."

I don't know who these people you're talking to are who are so frightened, but I've talked to a hundred people in the last year and none of them are that scared, okay? (Although the fear level went up noticeably after we attacked Iraq.)

I number both conservatives and liberals among my friends, and those who pay close attention to the news and those who just take the nightly news broadcasts on faith.

Those who don't pay close attention (the majority) are the least worried. They're not living in terror of another attack. These people define short-attention-span-theatre, okay? They've been trained that way by television sound-bite newscasts.

The people who pay close attention are more worried, but their worry is side-tracked by anger at the way this Administration is not taking steps to prevent another attack. (Hint: Kicking credentialed French journalists out of the country is not a useful step. Nor is repeatedly putting my blond, blue-eyed, all-American boss through the wringer every time he books a flight going to protect us. His last name is Dutch in origin, not Muslim. Could you people please figure out what you're doing?)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

It's the economy, stupid. How often do we have to keep saying this? People care about their own lives and welfare and no trumped-up war on a tiny country far away is likely to be of more importance to them than the odds of them still being employed in six months.

MSNBC's on-poll is the usual shoddy job. (I've mentioned before how bogus it is that they offer different questions on their website and then pretend to be comparing apples and apples between it and the offline poll.) They don't offer a choice that says that tax cuts won't help the economy at all. I voted anyhow. (And it looks like, gimmicky, right-wing extremist columnists aside, much of their readership is liberal. Bush wound up with a 32 percent approval rating and 70 percent disapprove of how he's handling the economy, the #1 issue of concern for 55 percent of those polled.)

And I don't approve of a lot of McCain's politics, but I sent him a message and I think you should, too. I think he's popular enough, and powerful enough, and concerned enough about freedom in this country to be an ally in the fight against the media consolidation move.

Is the internet already dying? And are those Evil Corporations to blame? If they make it illegal for you to use your phone line to dial into the net, are you going to give a sh*t? I wouldn't. I pay for the blasted phone line, okay? If I want to use it to power wind-up toys dancing the macarena around my living room, I will.

Another good reason to get Constitution-loving liberals back in power. Are there any?

And another thing, while I'm on the ragged edge of a tear and laying down the law to everyone, please give a little thought to candidates outside the Presidential arena, okay?

A liberal President is going to need liberals in Congress to help him salvage our country. And a few more liberals as governors and as state representatives would be useful, too.

(Me, I think the Democrats might take back Texas. Texans love a rebel and the Democrats who recently made news by standing up for a principle in defiance of "the establishment" need to keep themselves, and their rebellious acts, on the front page of Texas news between now and re-election time. Texas voters might just fall in love.)

I like Kevin Drum and always enjoy his posts, but sometimes he, and the other really smart and informed bloggers and pundits, don't know what they're talking about (althoughsome of the people who live in the comments section seem to understand).

The ignorance of Americans about the real world never ceases to amaze me. Ask them what percent of the population is black and they guess it's about a third. Ask them how much they pay in income taxes, and they figure about 50%. Ask them how big the foreign aid budget is and they're off by a factor of 24.
If you're going to run a poll, you have to ask the right questions, okay?

Overly informed people should never write polling questions. They never manage to ask questions in a way that elicits accurate answers. Experts should find an "average citizen" and explain matters to them. And then let that person write the polling questions, because that person understands both the mindset of those being polled and the issues being questioned.

I explained it to my boss this way when we were discussing an installation and user manual for our new product. You want a stupid person to write these, not an expert. A stupid person explains things in the way a stupid user/person is going to understand. I won the argument and I wrote the manuals. (In retrospect, I'm not sure I'm flattered at how easily my characterization of me as a stupid person was accepted, but that's another rant.)

I mean, of course most people figure they pay about 50% in taxes. What's hard to understand about that?

It's always been a mystery to me how the experts can not understand that, to the average citizen, the chunk taken out of their paycheck is "taxes."

There's federal taxes, state taxes, and a bunch of weird acronyms like FICA and others. And people don't stop to mentally subtract their health insurance deductions, okay? So someone paying to insure themselves and a couple of dependents is getting nicked for a substantial chunk right there.

I'd be massively surprised if the bite taken out of that bi-weekly paycheck wasn't right around 50% by the time you add all of that together. That's "taxes." It doesn't matter to most wage-earners what the bits break out as, all they know is that that's the money they earn that they don't get to keep.

As for the foreign aid budget, the confusion there is a combination of what people assume such a rich, powerful country pays and the lies Republicans tell about how we're beggaring ourselves to provide people in other countries with soft lives.

Part of the problem with "Washington" and even "the media" not understanding people is that once they've immersed themselves in the culture of D.C. for a while, they're completely unable to see what Washington looks like in the left four-fifths of the country.

New rant.

Electronic voting machines. I used one at the last local election, and I'm going back to "absentee" balloting so that I can fill out a piece of paper. (How to make sure those ballots actually get counted is another problem.

Heh. Heh.

I could become a major sports fan. A major sports fan.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)
Various lies and misdirections

Remember yesterday's vacuum cleaner story? I'd entirely forgotten this Graham Greene connection. I'm sorry, but now the original story looks weird and fishy.

Well, as an example of government manipulation and media gullibility, the Lynch story is a cautionary tale, but I'm not sure what else it is. Certainly now that most of the mainstream media has decided to ignore the story (so as to avoid pointing out their own contribution to the short-lived hysteria), I doubt that it does much good to keep discussing it.

Still. For those of us who care enough to look beneath the surface, it's just one more layer in the tissue of lies, isn't it?

"We were surprised," Dr. Anmar Uday told the BBC about the supposed rescue. "There was no military, there were no soldiers in the hospital. It was like a Hollywood film. [The U.S. forces] cried 'Go, go, go,' with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions," Uday said. "They made a show for the American attack on the hospital – [like] action movies [starring] Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan."

The footage from the raid, shot not by journalists but by soldiers with night-vision cameras, was fed in real time to the central command in Qatar. The video was artfully edited by the Pentagon and released as proof that a battle to free Lynch had occurred when it had not.

This fabrication has already been celebrated by an A&E special and will soon be an NBC movie. The Lynch rescue story – a made-for-TV bit of official propaganda – will probably survive as the war's most heroic moment, despite proving as fictitious as the stated rationales for the invasion itself.

The one thing I'd like to see, and the thing we'll never see is this made-for-TV movie turning out to be an exposé of the lies.

I have to admit, though, that I find the idea of average soldiers being a party to this just a little hard to swallow.

Huffington says the government keeps telling transparent lies because they're fanatics. I don't doubt there are fanatics in charge of the country, but I think she's overlooking the obvious.

I say they're doing it because they're getting away with it.

Don't be fooled by the occasional critical story in a mainstream publication, okay? Watch the nightly news and see if any of these lies are being revealed. Listen for anyone comparing what was said against what turned out to be true. Listen for anyone mentioning the funding cuts in social programs because of the tax cuts. Listen for anyone covering the FCC media-monopoly story. Especially see if any of the lies are not only revealed, but followed up on, explaining how the White House repeatedly refuses to answer questions from experts who say their plans won't work or their words aren't true.

Not hearing any of that, are you? Don't be fooled by what people say about "reading newspapers,' either. Most people get most of their news from the television. Especially when you move outside of large, urban cities. Smaller newspapers frequently devote one page to "national and international" news and everything else is local coverage or "color" articles. Even if the NYTimes or the LATimes did decide to do a front-page, side-by-side comparison of the Administration's words against what was later revealed to be the truth, very few people in the country would see it.

Ahem. (Marc Cooper says we're paranoid, and getting hysterical, and that Bush isn't really every demon in the pantheon rolled into one. I'm not sure what Toby Barlow's essay is about. Well, okay, I am, but it's a weird little entry anyhow.)

The tax cuts are all over the place, but is the number $318B or $350B? I see all kinds of estimates, which tells me that whatever the agreement wound up being, it would up being full of tricks, lies, and fuzzy numbers. I'm not mentioning it to link to a specific set of lies article, but because I've been contemplating dividend income and one group I haven't seen many liberals considering recently - the elderly. Lots and lots of senior citizens live on the income from investments, so a tax break for them would be a good idea. I need to do a lot more reading on the subject.

There has to be a blogger somewhere doing a detailed analysis of this kind of thing. What we need is a blog, or a forum people could post in that says which blogs to check for in-depth discussion of which topics.

But House Republicans said they have compromised significantly to bring the cost of the tax cut down from the $550 billion total passed by the House. They had also opposed the state fiscal relief component insisted on by the Senate.

"If we were going to agree to the Senate structure, I was not [going] to then begin to add new programs by raising taxes on someone else to lower them on some favored group," Thomas said.

Democrats, who were frozen out of the negotiations. . . .

What is it with the Republicans that they can't even accept the fact that close to 50 percent of the Congress is Democrat? I can't remember ever seeing such hostile partisanship before. Really, someone needs to explain to the Republicans that they don't own the country, their majority is (as they all are) temporary, and that they need to accept the existence and influence of Democrats. Even more than the big, public fights, it's little hints like this that really scare me about the people currently in power.

(I'm inured to revelations like this one, about the debt ceiling. I hate it, but we all know this happens. I'd prefer that hugely important matters like this were publicly debated, but 'the public' falls asleep when you discuss serious matters, so that's not going to happen.

(For those confused about the scorecard – the previous tax cut and the one just being passed are responsible for the government's abrupt need for an additional $984 billion added to the debt ceiling, okay?)

(And how irresponsible is it that a governor, presented with a balanced budget plan, decides that further whacking state programs is better than closing corporate loopholes?)

Posted by AnneZook at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)
May 21, 2003
War - the aftermath

Browsing around (when I should be working, yes), I found this from Krugman. I should have linked to it before.

The overthrow of the Taliban was a real victory — arguably our only important victory against terrorism. But as soon as Kabul fell, the administration lost interest. Now most of Afghanistan is under the control of warlords, the Karzai government is barely hanging on, and the Taliban are making a comeback.
I don't hear anyone in the Administration talking about beefing up our presence in Afghanistan and finishing the job properly.

No, we'll just let it drop. After all, once we've been in there fighting, anyone who really wants freedom can pick up their own guns and finish the job, right?

Gruesome fact: during the uprising after the first gulf war Saddam’s henchmen, in order to move quickly, would put people in trucks and move them to the edge of the city and bury them alive, these are the mass graves where you’ll find people still have their ID’s, fully dressed only with their hands tied.
We suck, okay?

(I assume we're all still reading Salam's blog?)

The official Number in Nasiriyah (i.e. coming from hospitals and medical centers in the area) is about 1000 civilian deaths and 3000 injuries.
I'm so glad we fought such a nice, clean war this time with all of those "smart" bombs and all of that precision targeting. Otherwise people might have gotten hurt.


Other stuff

Browsing through the weblogs...I see that Kevin Drum is good today, but he usually is. His blog is a pleasure to read.

And ever since I first heard that the gov'ment might be interested in what I'm reading, I've made a point of using a credit card to pay for all of my book purchases. And I hope my list of liberal, pro-ecology, pro-civil rights, anti-totalitarian/repressive/fascist government books chokes them.

Dorks. What kind of moron wastes scarce tax dollars on such a stupid and fruitless task? (As though it wasn't possible to walk into any library and spend 8 hours, or four days, reading and copying anything you want and never leaving a trail?)

The problem with government is that it's full of politicians.

And, speaking of government, take a look at this to see just how that USofA "generosity" I mentioned in a previous entry pans out against the generosity of the rest of the wealthy world.

The CGD/FP Commitment to Development Index ranks 21 of the world's richest countries according to how much their policies help or hinder the economic and social development of poor nations. The index examines six policy categories: foreign aid, openness to international trade, investment in developing countries, openness to legal immigration, contributions to peacekeeping operations, and responsible environmental practices.
The same Germany we were mad at along with France (before the government and the media inexplicably decided to focus on France) clocks in at 4.7. France itself manages 3.8. You'll have to scroll to the bottom of the list to find the USofA at 2.6. Only Japan comes in lower. (And they manage 1.2 for aid, against the USofA's 0.8.) Our only outstanding category is "trade" and stand back while I keel over in surprise.

The so-called Liberal Media and the FCC's proposed consolidation are still under discussion. I'd like to see a lot more discussion, not of the underhanded attempt to sneak this through the system, but of the actual wording of the changes and the likely consequences. I'd also like to see some public display of the actual documents submitted by the (big media corporate) supporters. And I want to see it on the front page of the NYTimes and the Washington Post and the LATimes. I'd also like to hear about it on the nightly news. I wonder why the national (big media corporate) news outlets aren't covering this?

Ugly numbers but a funny, funny column.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)
Bah, humbug

"It's going to be a beautiful, sunny day," someone told me this morning.

Yeah, it's a beautiful day for destroying forests.

I see that Christie Whitman, the EPA head, has resigned. I wonder if it's cause-and-effect?

After slapping most of the world in the face for the last few months, the Bush Administration has decided to mend fences by bragging about "U.S. generosity" to the international community. Considering that this country uses five times as much of the world's natural resources as anyone else, I think it takes a nerve to pretend that dumping a little money, grudgingly and with strings attached, back into a few other economies is some kind of selfless generosity on our part.

According to reports, he's actually going to stand up there and laud this country for, "the great role America's compassion abroad plays in averting wars and in solving problems."

That takes nerve from someone who just waged a war that solved no problems and created an international terrorism crisis.

He's a lying hypocrite.

"Freedom is God's gift to every person in every nation," President Bush said recently, explaining what he claimed to be the ultimate goal of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The president will have to excuse history professor Didier Gondola for not buying it. "Double talk," he calls Bush's pronouncement. "It is so hypocritical, because it is not in American interests to have democracy everywhere. In Iraq, there was a government holding valuable resources the U.S. could not control. So the U.S. took action. In Congo, the U.S. controls the government and the resources, so it doesn't really matter that millions of Congolese are dying."

It's okay if they die while we're in charge, because we're a democracy, you see. Don't listen to any stories of incipient massacres or anything. The Administration's complete silence on the subject clearly tells us that they have it all under control and we shouldn't be worrying our little heads about exactly what their ties with the Congo are or. (Well? Do you know?)

In the wake of a report that the Pentagon has accepted for years that killing people for control of their country's oil reserves would be a legitimate, and likely, excuse for war, and in the wake of reports that Halliburton has already been contracted to pump oil in Iraq while the Administration struggles to figure out how to feed the Iraqi people, tell me again how it wasn't all about oil. And tell me again how we're going to install "democracy" there and keep religious extremists from driving the country's people back into the middle ages. (And what if a majority votes for this guy. Is that any of our business?

Also, there's war in Indonesia but that's not likely to hit the nightly news cycle, either. It's just some people dying, like it has been for the last 27 years. Nothing to worry about.

Who did what and who helped who in the search for those temporarily absent Texas legislators? We may never know since someone, clearly in a panic about what might be revealed, has ordered all the records of the search destroyed.

And what's wrong with a country when the idea that innocent people can be executed is not abhorrent?

And in New York, a guy was given a ticket for sitting down on a milk crate, which just proves that....well, it proves that this country is going to hell in a handbasket.

Bah. I'm going back to work.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)
May 20, 2003
Crimes and Misdemeanors

Apartheid is no longer the rule in South Africa, but some international corporations are still feeling the fallout of the massive protest against firms that supported the South African separatist regime.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Should a non-profit foundation be forced to spend part of its money on charitable donations?

Via Buzzflash, I found this interesting Dishonor Roll. "America’s corporate merchants of death in Iraq"

Read Joe Conason on Bush's carefully crafted image. I only wonder why Joe didn't go that one step further, as he should have, and contrasted Dubya's real upbringing with his pretense of being a good ol' Texas boy.

The Bush Administration is in bad, bad shape when NYPost is printing material critical of how things are going in Iraq. (Via Altercation)

The Washington Post reports on the search for WMD.

BAGHDAD -- For once the team found a building intact.

The low stucco structure, one of several walled off from the street, was the 17th target of the war for Army Lt. Col. Charles Allison and the special weapons hunters under his command. Heavy crossbars sealed the doors. That, at least, was encouraging. There would not have been much left to lock if looters got here first.

U.S. intelligence called this place "Possible SSO Facility Al Hayat," after the Special Security Organization of President Saddam Hussein. It ranked No. 26 on a U.S. Central Command priority search list. Allison's team pulled up in six Humvees, not long before noon on May 1, to scout for biological and chemical arms.

"Go get the breach kit," ordered Army Maj. Kenneth Deal, second in command. A soldier returned with bolt cutters, a crowbar and a sledgehammer. Deal carried a digital camera. Army Sgt. 1st Class Will T. Smith Jr. and Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Anderson wielded chemical sensors that looked like oversized power drills.

Smashing padlocks and deadbolts, the men checked for booby traps as they felt their way by flashlight from room to room. They reached a murky stone passage, smelling of mold. Cement covered its windows. Steel doors, a dull orange, lined the hall.

Interrogation cells? Munitions vaults?

Y'all will be glad to know the world has been protected from any attempt on Hussein's part to attack with a cache of vacuum cleaners.

The article also details some of the finds, non-finds, and inter-organizational fighting that allowed the nuclear sites to be looted.

(P.S. Cheerleaders for change? What on earth are things coming to? All mockery aside, I'm heartened and encouraged by the amount of student-activism we're seeing these days.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)

What do those guys have against forests, anyhow?

If they want to log, let them plant a tree farm and cut those trees down. Yes, I understand that a redwood brings in more money, but the redwoods are a national treasure, whether this Administration understands it or not, and shouldn't be touched.

Why are we discussing pulling Iraq out of OPEC unless it's so that we don't have to restrict the amount of oil we pump out of the world's second-largest reserves?

Why can't we elect someone whose knowledge of how to build an economy doesn't begin and end with depleting natural resources?

(Why is it always 80 degrees in my office when it's 40 degrees outside? When did we start building nothing but buildings whose windows wouldn't open? If they'd let me have some fresh air, I promise I wouldn't jump.)

I'd say this is a good reason not to vote for Gephardt.

Koehler takes potshots at Bennett (as does Katha Pollitt) and Cheney (via Halliburton) but finally gets to the point. Why does this Administration still not understand the value of people? With tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq, surely we could spare a few from guarding the oil ministry and the oil fields and put them to work helping the Iraqi people find their dead?

(And why we're asking, let's ask why the Administration won't let U.N. inspectors back in Iraq? Although I'm assuming it's all part of the power games we're playing with the U.N. at this point.)

By the way, I see that Ari Fleischer is all over the news explaining that he's stepping down to "spend more time with his family," etc. We all remember what that's DC-code-speak for, right?

Why is Clear Channel deciding to put a few liberal talk stations on the air? (Hint: It ain't just to make money. Think, instead, of the advantage to a largely conservative media group of getting in there first and defining what the market will be.)

Still, Hartmann makes a good case for the idea that there's money to be made off the majority of the USofA voters. (You know, the ones who didn't vote for the guy in the White House.) I doubt I'll be listening, or trusting, any Clear Channel station, but the article gives a lot of other sources for independent or liberal radio coverage. (This one is doing well.)

(Half of today's links are from CommonDream. I swear, that website just gets better and better.)

Wow. This is an...interesting sort of prospect.

The proposed legislation would make companies accountable for deaths caused through gross management negligence.
If you convict a corporation for manslaughter, how do you send it to jail?

Lies, lies, and more lies. Carpenter is worth reading on the subject of foreign policy lies.

And speaking of lies, haven't a lot of us been saying this over and over?

"We have let al-Qaeda off the hook," Mr. Graham said.
"We had them on the ropes, close to dismantlement. And then as we moved resources out of Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight a war in Iraq, we let them regenerate."
Why won't anyone listen to us average citizens? Quite a few of us pointed out, even before we invaded Iraq, that our work in Afghanistan not only wasn't done, but that we were taking quite a few steps back as the Administration grew bored and moved on to a new war.

Over at the LATimes, a couple of people think the Senate's version of a tax cut is even more irresponsible than the one the White House put together.

This is disgusting.

What breaks your heart is the sight of healthy parents cradling skeletal children. Petros Loka, for example, is a young man with the hint of a potbelly — yet he was at an Ethiopian clinic with his 7-year-old son, David, who was admitted at 31 pounds and looked like a ghost. Trying to puzzle out how this could happen, I asked how the family ate.

"The man eats first, and then the children and the wife eat together," Mr. Loka explained. Others confirm that across rural Ethiopia, the father eats first and the mother and children get leftovers — with the smallest kids mostly squeezed out. To address that problem, we need not just more food but, above all, education, so that, as in Ethiopia's cities, families eat together and understand the need to look out for their youngest members.

And pathetic. How can people be this caught up in their "roles"? What kind of society can't change to fit the needs of its people?
I talked to members of one family who were hungry because their crops had failed from the drought, just 100 yards from a lake. Why hadn't they irrigated? The risk of being stomped by hippos was one factor, but another was that carrying water is women's work and tending the fields is men's work, and this cultural impasse left them stymied — and starving.
I try to make allowances for the differences in different cultures, but that's just insane.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)
May 19, 2003
Money and Medicine

Over at GlaxoSmithKlein, the company is still under heat for the proposed CEO pay hike. This time it's from the 2,000 workers they laid off last year.

The proposed rises will boost Garnier's £7m annual salary and benefits package and award him a £23 m severance package, despite the company making 2,000 redundancies last year and a continual fall in GSK's share price since Garnier took over in 2000.
I wanna know why I never get a raise for the ways in which I fail to make a positive contribution at my company?

I liked this bit at the bottom of the article:

Notes to editors

1. Garnier's basic salary represents an increase of 63% over the average for the FTSE 100 index and his bonus is more than double that for the index.

2. Garnier's annual pension entitlement as at 31 December 2002 was £929,000. This total payment is five times the level of his 2002 basic salary and eight times the level for the average Chief Executive salary in the FTSE 100 index.

When they say fat cat, they really mean it.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)
No Guns, No Worries, All Lies

Latest "news" is that there's not going to be any punishment for the Administration for telling huge lies about the existence of WMD in Iraq. In fact, they're now saying Hussein lied.

Adelman says Hussein may even have launched "a massive disinformation campaign to make the world think he was violating international norms, and he may not have been."
Let me get this straight.

We said Iraq had WMD. The UN went in to look for them, but they weren't finding anything, so we kicked out the UN and went to find the WMD ourselves.

Now, not finding any, we're claiming that Hussein only said he had WMD as some kind of weird PR campaign to make himself look like a big bad?

I guess I missed the part when he was telling us all about his WMD. It must have gotten lost in the flood of reports where Iraq said they didn't have any WMD, they'd destroyed the WMD they'd had in previous years, and promised they weren't developing any new WMD.

Gary Schmitt, of the pro-invasion Project for the New American Century, said investigators "may well not find stockpiles, because it may well be that Saddam figured out it was better to get rid of the stuff" and start over after inspectors left.

I'm sorry but can we stop pretending that a WMD program is something you can toss in the nearest trashcan and instantly erase all traces of?

It's getting really hard to follow the maze of lies on this one, but one thing stands out to me.

The gratitude of USofA citizens that the war ended so quickly and with so few casualties (most of them know absolutely nothing about the number of Iraqi civilian casualties) is being used against us.

They lie, and lie, and lie some more and everyone keeps acting like it's okay.

It's NOT okay!

Michael Schrage says WMDs don't matter, what matter is that we "called Hussein's bluff."

David Walsh (thank you, David) points out that Hussein wasn't bluffing. He said he didn't have any WMD.

Me, I say that if our government has some kind of "proof", as they've always insisted that they have, that WMD existed, it's more important now than ever to bring it out and slap it on the table so we can all see what it is.

Was it an elaborate bluff by Hussein designed to keep the rest of the world wary and at bay, or are there actually WMD, or were we suckered?

Whatever the answer, we're entitled to know and not even the corporate media's obedience to the Administration's dictate that it no longer wanted to discuss Iraq should be allowed to stop us from finding out.

It's also worth mentioning that, in Baghdad, as in Afghanistan, the soldiers are being ">left to clean up the mess that the Administration is bored of thinking about.

(The last three links courtesy of cursor.org.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)
Money and Guns

Republicans spend a lot of money. More than Democrats.

And even when they spend less there are some groups always sure of getting a big chunk. For instance, the military never has to worry. There's no money for Head Start programs, but let's by all means give the DoD a few hundred billion to make an extra bomb or two.

The 2004 budget resolution is $784.7 billion. The military and "national security" are getting $400B of it.

For what it's worth, this means Republicans are having their own budget woes, as their "party loyalty" (i.e., The Bush Party) is put into direct conflict with their own political survival.

The House recently passed legislation calling for a $2.2 billion increase in what was approved in 2003 for educating disabled students, and at this point, it is not clear where that money will come from.

This "special education" account traditionally has had strong Republican support. It has been a key component of "compassionate conservatism." On a more practical level, much of the money goes to school districts in suburban areas that are a base of Republican political support.

Bush doesn't care, it seems pretty clear that his idea of a federal government is a force that keeps a standing army and doesn't have the power or money to do much else, but in Congress, those hoping to get re-elected care deeply, no matter which side of the aisle they're on.

This confirms the power of the military in Washington.

The Senate and House are poised this week to rush through bills approving the Bush administration's plan to spend more than $400 billion on military programs, with only one or two days of debate on measures that would consume nearly 20 percent of the federal budget.
Twenty percent of the budget, and there's only a day or two of debate?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)
Headlines, Headlines

Gerald Eskenazi wants into Women's Locker Rooms and I think they should open the door for him. (This is the first I'd heard that he wasn't allowed in.)

Anti-Patriot Act resolutions are nothing new, but Arcata goes one further and makes it a criminal offense to cooperate with the Feds.

I love Arcata, okay? For a long time, I had the Arcata Eye Police Log linked over there on the left. I only took it down last week in an effort to get that links list under control and suddenly here Arcata is, hitting the national news!

Let's hear a round of applause for Nisha Sharma.

Oregon Students are protesting an FDA ban on blood donations by gay men if said gay men have had sex in the last 25 years.

Some students say that goes against the university's anti-discrimination policy and falsely labels AIDS and HIV as a gay men's disease.
The students have decided to cancel their annual blood drive, and I don't blame them.

I don't even have to read this article. The title says it all. "If Bush Was Popular, We Wouldn't Need Polls To Convince Us." Still, it's a good article about how polls aren't as simple as the headlines make them sound.

Carolyn Arnold is...well, I dunno. She's kinda mad is all, and mostly as us 'ordinary citizens.' She thinks it's time we started talking politics right out in public, as though it wasn't a shameful or boring topic at all.

When you're reading your copy of the new tax bill, don't miss this little present to the auto industry.

The controversial tax loophole for buyers of the largest, least efficient SUVs would be quadrupled to $100,000 per vehicle under tax legislation passed by the U.S. Senate last night, effectively subsidizing the full purchase price for 38 of the largest and most costly SUV models on the American road, including the Hummer, the Range Rover and the Cadillac Escalade.

At the very same time, lawmakers at work on the new energy bill are threatening to eliminate a successful $2,000 tax deduction for fuel-efficient gas-electric hybrid vehicles.

Color me so surprised.

Hmmm...the Bush Administration did have a plan for post-war Iraq. It's just not working. I'm sorry, but reading this article, it sounds to me as though the post-war plan was drawn up by people with little or no understanding of the essential problems of the Middle East.

There's a coffee crisis and before anyone accuses me of harping on this just because I'm an addict myself, let me point out that this is one of those cases where a consolidation of power into the hands of a few companies has created a situation where the producers of the product are starving to death but the prices paid by the end consumers stay the same or go up. The only people doing well are the corporations in the middle of the equation.

Anyhow. I'm going to go get some...you know.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)