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May 30, 2003

Must. Not. Blog. No. Matter. What. The. Temptation.

No matter what human rights atrocities are being supported by our government.

No matter what cover-ups are under way.

No matter what's happening to the national media as they join the feeding frenzy for internet ratings.

No matter what lies we're being fed.

No matter if the lunatics are in charge of the asylum, as most of us have been saying for two years.

No matter if there's a holocaust and we're too busy redefining date rape to care.

No matter how badly I want to tell everyone to go read this and keep it in mind the next time you're trying to make a persuasive argument to change someone's mind.

It's hard to keep my mouth shut. Doesn't come naturally to me.

I read an essay from someone who wonders, if terrorists, dictators, and the lies our government tells us "don't matter," then what does matter these days? and I'd really like to comment on it.

I read an article confirming my suspicion (after "debating" with the "masculinist" who thought the entire history of Western Civilization was a litany of women's systematic oppression of men, as I've mentioned before) that the "masculinist" movement is in actuality a repressive, regressive social movement, and it's hard not to start shouting. (Both in protest of the "masculinists" who are, in fact, wanting women back in the kitchen and in support of those admirable men who are fighting for equal rights in areas like parenting.)

And then I wonder if it's a coincidence that the distasteful OpinionJournal now has an OpEd piece up equating contemporary civil rights efforts, but most especially feminism with frivolity, based upon the press-fueled hysteria over Annika Sorenstam playing in a traditionally male golf tournament.

What historic "wrong" was being "remedied" by allowing Annika Sorenstam (71-74) to compete against Justin Leonard, who shot a final round 61?
Typically of the OpinionJournal, they completely ignore the fact that it wasn't against the rules for Sorenstam to play in the tournament. She didn't show up with a battery of equal-rights lawyers to help her demand "equal access". This wasn't about feminism unless you were a sports writer desperate for a headline.

It was about golf. Sorenstam is a superb golfer who, when she failed to make the cut, was still doing better than a number of the men in the tournament. I notice that the article, careful to cite the winning golfer's score, fails to mention or scoff at the score of the second-place, third-place, or tenth-place finishers. That's because they were men and, in the OpinionJournal's eyes, "entitled" to be there, so their losing scores weren't an issue.

And that is the real issue here. Not that a player didn't make the final cut. That one of the many players who didn't make the final cut was female.

Beyond that, the OpinionJournal's piece is, more broadly about how "rights" is now a game and largely fails to serve any real purpose of promoting equality in a meaningful way.

The rights game now is about just winning, by manipulating legislatures or finding a whatever-you-want judge, as in Moorestown, and then declaring that the issue is "settled law."

But it isn't settled, not unless the broad public recognizes and accepts the result, as it did for women's rights. If the public does not, if it has moved on from compassion fatigue to rights fatigue, then those sentiments will start to show up in voting booths in the new civil war between the reds and the blues.

Warning! Cognitive dissonance!

The mind boggles at how easily Daniel Henninger can, in one paragraph, contemptuously dismiss a woman as a failure and an interloper for competing in a traditionally male golf tournament, and in another paragraph, talk glibly of how "women's rights" to equality are now accepted.

I'm off topic, aren't I? The problem is, I have opinions on these things and it's hard to keep my mouth shut. (Not that I did, but now I am again.)


When I read that our much-touted "coalition" isn't willing to step in and help bear the burden of rebuilding Iraq after our "coalition" invasion, I find it hard not to speak bitterly of how you can't trust a crook or a politician to stay bought any more. (Maybe I should be giving the Bushleaguer more points? He, at least, is staying true to his corporate owners.) The truth is, though, that the "coalition" didn't contain many countries with any sizeable numbers of troops to send, which is why we're now hoping the U.N. will step in and save our bacon.

And then I start reading how another totalitarian, torturing government has been oppressing and killing its citizens at the behest of USofA corporations (google it, there are a lot of links), and it's almost impossible to keep quiet.

I've been advised by one person kind enough to drop me a comment that my problem is that I don't focus on one issue, the way the more-disciplined bloggers do. And I agree that my scattershot approach probably fueled my current burnout.

I could choose one subject, one issue, and focus on that.

Let me see...shall I care about civil war in the Congo and the horrific refugee crisis that the Western world seems to be unwilling to resolve?

Should I concentrate on pointing out the large and growing threat that AIDS is in third-world countries?

Should I obsess about the drought and famine in Ethiopia, and discuss how the West has, for years, failed to alleviate the problems of this region?

Should I worry incessantly about the nuclear threats providing by North Korea, Iran, India, and Pakistan?

Should I focus on civil rights, the plight of the underprivileged, the criminal duplicity of this Administration, the movement to roll back the gains of feminism, the crimes of corporations, ecological disasters, the insipid cowardice of the DLC, the threat of WWIII being instigated by a country with a grudge against a neighbor, or what?

Someone tell me the one, significant issue in this bunch and I'll undertake not to get hot under the collar and wander off-topic discussing the test of them.


On the other hand, it must be said that I've gotten through an amazing amount of work this week. Contracts signed, pricing negotiated, sales and marketing material written and approved, clients installed and running smoothly, etc.

So, by-and-large, the hiatus remains in effect for another week (with, no doubt, occasional lapses), by which time I may have this zoo under some control and be ready to turn my attention back to pointing out the Bushleaguer's many and varied inadequacies.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)
May 26, 2003

I am, in fact, giving this whole World O'Blog thing some serious re-thinking. Maybe it's a kind of burnout, I don't know, but after having been at this for about eight or nine months, I'm thinking it's time to step back and reconsider.

There are a ton of good blogs out there, all run by insightful people posting more in-depth analysis than I seem to find time for these days. I find little value in me posting links that are being posted, and discussed, in larger and more thoughtful forums than this one.

Quite frankly, I don't know how other bloggers do it. I spend, easily, two to three hours a day reading news sites and blogs and making my own blog posts. This is a lot of time. All the more so when, as I've admitted before, I spend a significant chunk of my work hours doing it. When I started this, I wasn't that busy at the office and it wasn't that big of a deal. Today, things are quite different and I have quite a lot to do, not all of which is getting done in a timely fashion.

In addition, I'm also willing to admit that I must be the only person on-line whose readership seems to be falling. I didn't start tracking usage until late in January, but the number of people stopping by daily has been dropping each month since then, adding to my belief that the issues I choose to link to here, are being covered better elsewhere.

The bottom line is, as I was discussing in an earlier post, I don't seem to be bringing anything to the party that others aren't doing better.

To that end, I'm going to attempt to wean myself off of blogging. (I'm a tad obsessive, so I can't swear I won't fall off the wagon a time or two in the next week.) Instead, I'm going to try to find blogs linking to the issues and articles that interest me and spend my energy commenting in those forums.

It's a source of major frustration to me that some of my favorite blogs don't have commenting, but I guess I can resort to old-fashioned e-mail :) if I have to.

This decision, like all of my decisions, is open to change without notice, but until such time, I want to thank those of you who have stopped by.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)
And the Winner Is:

Looks like Iran is about to win the "whose next?" war stakes.

I'm so glad we're not going to be making permanent war or anything. And I'm awfully glad we're leaving Saudi Arabia alone. We wouldn't want to deprive all of those terrorists of one of their main training bases or anything.

Were "coalition" soldiers unnecessarily at risk due to sloppy air support back-up in Iraq? If they were, are they going to decline to attend the next party war?

We're clearly already preparing for the next war, wherever it's going to be. Many of us are still arguing the legitimacy of such wars.

Many of us are still arguing the legitimacy of the last one.

And others are still arguing that Baghdad's surrender was sold to the USofA for safe passage for members of Hussein's regime.

I don't suppose we're be back on the road to Afghanistan no matter how badly we botched the job there.

If we have to make war, why can't we go somewhere where they need us?

The latest African horrors to disfigure our screens come from Congo's Bunia. Lendus kill Hemas who now kill Lendus in a cycle of tribal murder. James Astill's chilling film on Friday's Newsnight showed streets dotted with corpses surveyed by a powerless garrison of UN peacekeepers 'without the mandate' to intervene; a 10-year-old orphan in combat fatigues told Astill, in one of this year's more extraordinary TV interviews, he had killed 10 Lendus himself.
If Hussein's behavior was a disgrace, what word to we use to describe a culture where a 10 year-old picks up a gun and starts killing as a matter of course?
The trouble is twofold. First, the proposal comes from France, and George Bush has instructed his staff that he will not receive phone calls from President Chirac. Second, the US does not accept that its subsidies to its farmers lead to any American export dumping; its $20 billion of support for its farmers is virtuous while similar sums spent by Europeans are dastardly.
Lies, again. However, I'm going to stand up and say, on this one, Bush is just mouthing a long-term USofA policy. This crisis has been building in Africa for years and the USofA, along with the rest of the so-called "civilized world" has dithered around about what to do. (Having said that, I'll add that childish petulance, like refusing to accept phone calls from a head of state, do nothing to solve the problem but add a lot to the perception of Bush as a man too immature to be sitting at his desk.)

Beyond the Middle East

Make a donation to the International Red Cross or your preferred international aid agency. Help the people of Algeria, who aren't getting the help they need from their own government.

Get out and work for your favored candidate or we're going to end up with Leiberman.

Get out and do SOMETHING to get these people out of office!

And don't expect me to have sympathy for tobacco farmers getting nice pots of money from the government not to grow tobacco. Are we expected to believe that the rich farmland won't support any other crop for those who value their way of life? (If the federal government wasn't so tied to the cotton industry, the Maryland land could be put to growing hemp, an eco-friendly, inexpensive, "natural" source for fabric.)

Not only is this Administration giving the Defense Department its entire wish list, but we see that they're being given a lot more than that. Can someone explain to me why that extra $1.7B wasn't spent on the social programs slated to be starved to death?

Oh, yeah. Silly me. Because Bush thinks the Federal Government exists to maintain armed troops and should have no other function.

I'm too depressed to read any more headlines today.

Here are some words of peace and hope.

The night of Jan. 26, 1965, an FBI tape rolled as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. urged followers to pursue non-violence despite the beating of a black woman that day by sheriff's deputies in Selma, Ala. The speech sat in the hands of a police informant, and is now published in a collection of civil rights oratory, Ripples Of Hope.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)
May 25, 2003
Thanks for the Memories (Thomas)

Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President
Wit and Wisdom from the Front Row at the White House
(by Helen Thomas)

More wit than wisdom, this is an entertaining and pointed recounting of the kinds of humor that have, and have not, enlivened Thomas's coverage of the Presidency through nine Administrations.

From the charm, passion, and aptitude for the bon mot of Kennedy through the grim and earnest paranoia of Nixon, up to the first year of the current Administration, Thomas shares the jokes, pranks, and foibles of each President as viewed by someone with a front row seat.

This is a reporter's account, so the infamous Gridiron dinners, the National Press Club, and, naturally, presidential press secretaries sit front and center in most of her stories.

Presidential anecdotes aren't lacking, of course. Nor are the moments when Thomas herself was the butt of the joke or on the receiving end of presidential wrath over something she'd written.

This is not a book about politics but you can't write of Washington, or of presidents, without the odd political issue appearing every page or two and it's in those moments that the real value of the book appears.

Who else could frame The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle against the Cuban Missile Crisis to present a brief, poignant picture of the world we've lost, a world where you could drive up to the White House gates with a reasonably expectation of being allowed inside?

L. B. Johnson went down in history as the man who decided to send more troops to Vietnam when he could, instead, have decided to pull us out of the war, and that's how I've always remembered him. And yet, he should also be remembered as the president who fulfilled Kennedy's promise of sending a man to the moon, keeping the space program's funding going strong throughout his administration. And Thomas illustrates, with a simple story of LBJ's family cook, the injustices and inequalities of the world, the discrimination that was outlawed with his signature on the Civil Rights Act.

Nixon...even before Watergate, he was a grim, earnest, and secretive man. Not much humor in his White House but Thomas manages to eke some humor even from that. (The odd little anecdote on pp 86-87, during Watergate, certainly gives one food for thought on how a desperate, unbalanced president could wreak havoc on this county.)

On up through the current Administration, no president or press secretary escapes Thomas's memory or her pen.

It's interesting to note that G. W. Bush's chapter is the only one dignified by an opening quotation.

It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
--Joseph Stalin
I donít suppose any of us today are unaware of Helen Thomas's opinion of the current Administration.

As I started to say earlier, it's in the inescapable political moments that the real value of the book comes out. We see presidents who are devoutly religious and fiercely determined to maintain the separation between Church and State. We see a man who understood what it meant to serve, and who could make the hard decision to sacrifice career for country. We can see the men behind the job and even, sometimes, spy their passion for this country.

And we see the gradual closing of the White House door. We see how each succeeding presidency becomes more obsessed with manipulating the news that with discussing it. We glimpse how the national media, frustrated by the increasing orchestration, begins to rely ever-more heavily on rumors and unnamed sources to replace the rough-and-tumble honestly of earlier days.

A fascinating, fascinating book.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)