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June 06, 2003

While I'm on hiatus (I am. Really.), I'm thinking this might also be a good time to overhaul my links significantly. There are people like Hector Rottweiller Jr. that I've been reading regularly and should be linking to.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

Welcome the Berkeley Economist, Gabriel, to the blogroll. Check out today's entry in which an excerpt from an October 29, 2001 speech at the very conservative American Enterprise Institute reveals the conservatives' war plans.

first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq
So, you see, we never really had a chance to stop the invasion of Iraq. Or of stopping anything else they have planned for the Middle East, because, "as far as waging this war goes the important thing is that they are all our enemies."

Posted by AnneZook at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)
Bad Mood Friday

I'm not blogging. I'm...sulking. And my fingers are moving and there are, coincidentally, keyboard keys under those same fingers. But I'm not blogging. I'm on hiatus, remember?

For the record, I'm annoyed that UPI has decided to make their content for-pay only.

It matters if we were lied to about the WMD. How often do some of us have to say this? It matters, okay?

With luck, the public's long-suffering acceptance of the fact that our government lies to us, regularly and consistently, is wearing thin. Lies about sex and white-collar fraud and whether or not you support a ban on semi-automatic weapons are one thing.

Lies that lead directly and deliberately to the deaths of thousands of people are in a different category.

I can't believe the idiocy and arrogance of this Administration. First I found myself in the uncomfortable, even distasteful position of protesting an illegal and unsanctioned invasion of Iraq, designed to bring down Saddam Hussein and give us a long-term base in the Middle East that, unlike Saudi Arabia, we weren't going to lose at the drop of a hat.

Now I find myself in the equally uncomfortable position of having to side with the CIA against the Administration in the PR war for who lied the worst. I'm not a big fan of the CIA, okay?

I mean, conceptually I have a great love for spies and spooks and undercover agents, but it's largely a fictional passion. I don't mistake the Lone Operative Against Evil that exists in fiction with the dirty reality of contemporary intelligence agencies.

I have long believed that the CIA's "second mission" in Vietnam, connected with making millions of dollars promoting and protecting the smuggling of illegal drugs under the guise of "collecting intelligence" was less an anomaly than an on-going policy on the part of the Agency.

I believe that if we could see today the secret notes and memos of CIA activities in South America, we'd see similar involvement with the "drug lords" of those regions.

I believe that in the name of "intelligence", the CIA has stepped over that crucial line from collecting information to complicity and even active support of criminals around the world. (For the record, I don't believe they stepped into criminality deliberately. I think it was one of those step-by-step down the slippery slope situations. It seemed like a good idea at the time - by cooperating with the black market of drug smugglers you can undoubtedly move around the world with an ear to those subterranean rumblings that can presage major criminal activity. I can buy that that's how it happened in the beginning.) (And how geeky is it that I spelled 'subterranean' correctly on the first try?)

And yet, here I am. Backing the CIA against the Bush Administration, because what they're saying matches what's being said by intelligence agencies and governments around the world and what the Bush Administration says is being said only by a couple of our coalition allies, countries almost equally complicit in the deaths.

I hate what this Administration drives me to. What does a person of conscience do when there is no "right side" to be on?

Meanwhile, Ashcroft could care less that an internal report criticizes his department's treatment of posts 9/11 detainees, the Pentagon's intelligence service says there was no credible evidence of WMD in Iraq before we invaded them, Bush has promised to "reveal the truth" about WMD, which means we're on the road to a new set of lies, and those French "surrender monkeys" have gone where we feared to go - to the Congo, via the UN, to try and bring stability to that war-torn region.

''The French have come!''
It's an advance party, and there aren't enough of them, but it's them and not us, isn't it? If you're bored today, trace the USofA's involvement in the Congo with an eye to what corporations are exploiting working in the area and try to figure out why our leaders never mention helping these people.

The official Church of England is having to face homosexuality head-on after the revelation that the recent appointment of a new Bishop placed an open homosexual firmly near the top of the trees in their church.

Elsewhere in the world, Russia is reported to be trying to close some of its borders and I'm wondering why. Surely this Administration doesn't think they can take on...no, of course not.

Another thing I hate (as long as I'm on a rant today anyhow) are hard decisions. I applaud Canada's Supreme Court who made a very difficult decision about personal liberty. I don't know if I agree that this man is or has been sane enough to make his own treatment decisions, but I sympathize with his resistance to a course of treatment that, " slows his thinking, dulls his inspiration and makes him appear disoriented."

I don't know, myself, if I'd rather life mentally untrammeled in an institution or live "outside" but with my brain clouded and my ability for creative thought impaired. It's a painfully difficult set of choices. I certainly sympathize with his mother who wants her son forcibly medicated and freed but how can she, or anyone, decide that someone famous for brilliance of thought should be forced to live in a mind-numbing, pharmaceutical fog?

How can anyone decide that anyone should have to live with their intelligence dulled?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, the Guardian is discussing the subject of the Palestinian people. You know, the fact that they exist and that the world is now, after fifty years, beginning to admit they have a right to the homeland stolen from them.

And I don't approve of those "boot camp" style schools and camps for kids, okay? I want to know just how stupid a parent has to be to send their child off into the hands of strangers without even bothering to go and look at the facilities themselves?

Mrs. Slavis said she still believes in the schools. [...] "My daughter told me when she got restrained she deserved it. And when she got sent to the isolation room or the consequence room there was always a reason for it. And now she does not get sent any more."
This woman's daughter has been abused and brainwashed and this woman should be charged with being an unfit parent.

Wit and Witless

The OpinionJournal sure believes in the threat promise of what blogs can do to change contemporary journalism. I mean, they must, right? Why else would they be linking to Sullivan as though to a news site?

It also seems that the OpJour is finding itself very clever these days. On that same page are multiple references to "Dowdification" of quotes, with some particularly witless (in the, "not funny and no particular point to be seen" sense) mangled quotes of their own.

Then we get "Krugmania". Their "Krugmania" bit is notable for unintended wit. In protesting the backlash against the missing WMD, they note, casually, that

Some information about weapons of mass destruction, you see, might have been faulty.
Be still my beating heart. What a comprehensive indictment against those protesting the complete absence of credible intelligence or, indeed, WMD.

Also, "It's a amusing to consider that the same people who refuse to give Bush any credit for his achievement in Iraq" is a faulty statement. I'd like to go on record assuring the OpJour that there are those of us on the left happy, more than happy, to give the Bush Administration every, single piece of "credit" for what happened and continues to happen in Iraq.

The OpJour also thinks that an Iraqi man sending a poison letter to the Belgian Prime Minister is a complete and utter vindication of the Administration's position on Iraq's biological weapons capability and our invasion of their country. Beyond questions of scale and, you know, location, let's pause to wonder why they didn't bother to report the rest of the story.

They refer only to the letter sent to the Prime Minister and fail to mention the ones sent to, "the U.S. and British embassies and a court trying al Qaeda suspects." They also fail to mention that, "[t]hree ministries, the Saudi Arabian Embassy, an airport and a port authority were the other targets" for the ten letters sent. Maybe this is why:

The letters contained no more than a spoonful of powder -- not life-threatening but enough to cause irritation to the eyes, skin and breathing, the federal prosecutor's spokeswoman said.
He wasn't a murdering sort of terrorist because he only wanted to make people sneeze, so he didn't get the full OpJour treatment?

(Joking aside, there's something wrong with this story.

Among [those briefly hospitalized] were five officers at the Brussels police headquarters who were leafing through documents taken from the suspect's home.
That seems clear enough, but later the story says:
The prosecutor's spokeswoman did not elaborate on the investigation but said police had not found any of the chemicals in the suspect's home.
Am I losing my mind, or do those statements seem to contradict one another?)

When the good old OpJour got to the point of referring to UN Inspector Hans Blix as a "discredited historical footnote", I quit reading that page.

Elsewhere in the same publication, Henninger is annoyed because Democratic candidates aren't taking positions on Sammy Sosa, and he doesn't a bit understand why the FCC issue is of more concern to them than the Stewart indictment. (It's possible he was hired for typing speed more than brains, I really don't know.)

Ah well, I needed a laugh. I feel better, you know? Making fun of the OpJour always cheers me up. it's not an intellectual pleasure, but it's not an intellectual publication.

Soon you'll be able to switch wireless phone services and take your phone number with you.

In closeing, I ask, "where is Aung San Suu Kyi?"

Posted by AnneZook at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)

Well, I don't know about you, but my humiliation is complete.

On the way to work this morning, I heard on the the CNN radio news broadcast that the EU and the US are finalizing an international agreement for our security forces to work together against terrorism.

The humiliation came near the end of the segment, when CNN noted that the EU had praised the US for being willing to agree to certain basic human rights for potential prisoners regarding detainment and fair trials.

We were the envy of the world. For over 200 years we were in the forefront of the movement that declared that the rights of the individual were paramount and should be protected by fundamental, almost unalterable laws. How did we fall so far, so fast?

It's not like I'm pretending we were living in a civil rights paradise before Bush stepped into the White House because I know better, but this...this is the kind of praise that would be handed out to some third world dictator who had signed an agreement to stop executing his political opponents without benefit of trial.

It's the kind of praise you offer a backward nation who has made a tiny step toward civilization.

When did we become the kind of nation that had to be encouraged and commended and congratulated for giving people their basic human rights?

It's embarrassing.

It's a slap in the face to the current Administration, and, really, the entire country, and if the voters re-elect these people then we deserve it.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)
June 05, 2003
Lookit This

Anyone under the impression that this country is in the hands of mature, professional individuals needs to poke around on government sites from time to time. And check out press releases.

Like this one from the Committee On Resources.

Number of radical environmental lawsuits filed in which the taxpayer paid attorneys’ fees: 434 Average taxpayer-funded award per case for radical environmental lawyers’ fees: $70,000 Most obscene taxpayer-funded award for radical environmental lawyers’ fees: $3.5 million Filing frivolous lawsuits against the United States and getting rich off the American taxpayer: SHAMELESS

(The emphasis is in the original which looks more like something you'd find on an beginner's website than on a taxpayer funded website.)

Notice the complete absence of any real information about specific issues. We wouldn't want to get all bogged down by the facts, would we?

I'm thinking of calling my Congressman to complain about the insultingly stupid quality of their propaganda.

(You know, the more I search this site, the less I'm able to believe this is actually a government site, in spite of the .gov domain name. First, they offer a very prominent link to "gop.gov" and second, the messy site design and the sensationalist headlines. This is some radical, cheesy wing-nut group, isn't it?)

Okay, Now Lookit This

Halliburton has been awarded $500 million in contracts so far?

Editor's Note | Rep. Waxman's letter to the office of the Army Secretary raises a number of disturbing issues. It appears that Halliburton subsidiary, Kellog Brown & Root, was given nearly $500 million in government contracts for the Iraq war without said contracts being proffered to other companies in a standard bidding process. Given Halliburton's close ties to Vice President Cheney, the potential impropriety of this action is manifest. As Rep. Waxman notes in his letter, Halliburton's contracts with the government allowed them "to profit from virtually every phase of the conflict with Iraq." Perhaps more disturbing is the timing of the issuance of said contracts. Waxman states that Brown & Root was contracted for Iraq war work in 2001. Was this contract offered before September 11? truthout is in the process of finding the answer to that question through Rep. Waxman's office. - wrp

(Emphasis is mine.) And you can read the text of the letter, too.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)
June 04, 2003
The So-Called Liberal Media

They don't seem to be covering this story, do they? Is it because, as this blogger points out, it might tarnish Powell's already somewhat tattered image? (Copious links on the blog.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)
Drat these people

I so don't have time for this. I have a job.

Remember those things called the Geneva Conventions? Our oh-so-civilized coalition allied soldiers don't seem to have gotten the memo about treatment of POWs. Of course, given our Administration's semantic tap-dancing around the definition of "POW" I'm not surprised. (I'm sorry, but if you declare a "war on terrorism" then it naturally follows that those you incarcerate while waging that war are POWs, okay?)

And since the intelligence communities in the UK and the USofA aren't cooperating in hiding their governments' shenanigans with the WMD evidence, they might wind up as the fall guys for what went wrong.

That the elite no longer serve might explain the government's casual acceptance of soldiers' deaths in opportunistic wars these days.

The Bush Administration said they wanted Iraq governed by the Iraqis, but those silly Iraqis didn't understand that they meant only the right kind of Iraqis. The pro-USofA ones.

The soldiers were told the "road home" was "through Baghdad" but it's not true. They were angry at having been lied to (we can sympathize with that), but now they're reported to be resigned.

I'm just saying, okay? If a $200,000 bounty doesn't produce those WMD, then maybe there aren't any.

Okay, more proof that national sovereignty means little to this Administration.

US troops raided the Palestinian embassy in Baghdad and arrested 11 staff members - including its top diplomat - after ransacking the building, Palestinian officials said Thursday. A top US general said only eight people had been arrested. "They even took all of our water bottles and food cans," said Mohammad Abdul Wahab, a mission official. "They behaved like common thieves." Although US troops have conducted numerous sweeps against suspected criminals and loyalists of Saddam Hussein's regime, Wednesday's raid was the first such action against a foreign diplomatic mission. . .
This is an unconscionable violation of international law.

Daily Kos links to a story saying it was All About Oil. It's from the Wolfowitz interview.

And there are folks blogging from the G8.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)
I'm not blogging

Really. Just...making a few comments is all.

I thought Salam's first Guardian column deserved a mention and a bit of fanfare. (Sound of fanfare.)

Does this sound right to you? I'm just asking,

On May 8, the committee, controlled by Republicans, voted along party lines to tie reform of US immigration laws with a requirement that Mexico open up its state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) to US corporate investors.
Think about it. They're refusing to reform immigration laws unless Bush's favorite industry gets to take over Mexico's oil production. (I know, it says "corporate investors" but anyone who thinks it won't end up with a takeover is naïve.)
What is perhaps not inaccurately being called the "Halliburton Amendment,"
(Boy, it's interesting how the same corporate names keep showing up again and again under this Administration, isn't it?)
began as a completely different resolution attached to a routine funding bill for the State Department, known as the Foreign Relations Authorization Act. Its sponsor, Democratic Congressman Bob Menendez (NJ), said that his amendment, calling on the Bush administration to act on its long stalled promise to reach an immigration accord with Mexico, offered an "opportunity to recognize the worth of the farm worker in the south and southwest, who puts food and vegetables on our dinner table." It was, he said, "a chance for dignity and human rights," and an opportunity "to improve our countries' relationship" by pursuing "a series of migration initiatives over the course of the next six months to a year."

Instead, the Republican majority, under the leadership of Committee Chairman Henry Hyde of Illinois, hijacked the amendment and replaced it with one of their own, offered by Rep. Cass Ballenger of North Carolina. This amendment declares that "Pemex, the Mexican state monopoly, is inefficient and plagued by corruption. It needs a substantial reform of private investment in order to offer sufficient petroleum production to Mexico and the United States to nourish future economic growth. This, in turn, would slow down illegal immigration to the US."

I'm sorry, but whatever inefficiency and even corruption that "plagues" the Mexican oil industry is none of Halliburton's our business. The last time I checked, they were still a sovereign nation.

In any case, as long as we're doing business with murderers, torturers, and totalitarian dictators, I think it's a little hypocritical of us to get all high and mighty because a neighbor isn't perfect, okay? Expletives deleted. A country with the kind of corporate scandals in our recent past should just keep their mouth shut or offer, at most, a little advice on finding the crooks. Not that we can find the crooks, of course. We mostly wait for a multi-billion dollar company to go under and then start the finger pointing.

Lookee here:

To repeat, there was always a good case to be made for taking out Saddam Hussein on humanitarian grounds alone – those us who work in the human rights movement were making that case back when the Reagan administration was arming Saddam Hussein. It was not, however, the case made by the Bush administration, in part because we are still supplying weapons to other monsters (Algeria, anyone?).
I really enjoy Molly Ivins' writing.

And, for what it's worth, I was wondering what the Republicans had to gain, aside from more money in the pockets of millionaires, by eliminating a few million poor people from the recent tax bill. Turns out, it was part of a plot to get some more tax cuts for rich people. The current crop of Republicans in power really are a bunch of bottom-feeders, aren't they?

Lemme see...while the Democrats are forming a group to think for them we find the Republican Party American Enterprise Institute, a conservative and very influential think-tank advising that we amend the Constitution to allow Congress to "reconstitute itself" in the event terrorists do in a bunch of House members. Maybe I'm just cynical, so I won't comment on my immediate thought that no one seems to have much faith in "Homeland Security" and their ability to deter future terrorism.

And maybe it's just the AEI's name attached that makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck with some statements.

“Under the Seventeenth Amendment, governors can fill [Senate] vacancies within days by temporary appointment, therefore the Senate would reconstitute itself much more quickly than the House.”

Therefore, the commission concluded that “the cleanest constitutional solution for filling vacancies in the House of Representatives would be to adopt the same procedure the Senate has employed since the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment: providing for the filling of all vacancies, even those occurring on a routine basis, with members appointed temporarily by the governor until a special election is held.”

The commission said that a constitutional amendment should be of a “general nature that allows Congress to address the details through implementing legislation. It believes it is essential for such a procedure to operate under emergency circumstances if many members of Congress were dead or incapacitated, but the commission leaves Congress to decide the exact circumstances under which the procedure will take effect.”

It's the "general nature" part that gives me the heebie-jeebies. Because, to paraphrase from West Wing this is an area of government where we want as much ambiguity as possible.

An amendment may be needed, but I favor amending the 17th Amendment to extend the power to cover the House. I don't want an entirely new Amendment, crafted by the American Enterprise Institute or Tom DeLay that's full of "generalizations" about just how it takes effect.

Real Live Democrats Hee. Hee. Since I'm not a member of the Democratic Party, I feel free to mock said Party when its leadership tries to distance itself from those icky left-wingers.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)
June 03, 2003
Anti-environmentalists to the ready!

Looks like they're doing well in China. They've created a huge dam that will have amazing benefits to the people of China.

The government says it has cleared four million tons of household, industrial and sewage waste, as well as the rubble from demolishing 12 million square metres of housing. It plans to invest £3bn in hundreds of sewage and waste disposal plants, but all the pollution from Chongqing and other industrial cities still goes straight into the Yangtze, making its water so poisonous that no one dares drink it or use it for agriculture.
I'm sure the 2 million people losing their homes and livelihood are thrilled to be displaced by a 385 mile-long cesspool.

And here in the USofA, those Anti-Greens aren't slacking off the battle at all. They've convinced the Bush Administsration to stop classifying land as public wilderness closed to development.

If oil and gas leases are granted or roads built before Congress acts, both sides concur that America's remaining wild lands could be marked irrevocably by human hands and could lose any ability to qualify for wilderness protection.
Our friends at Exxon had better get to drilling fast before those terrorist eco-nuts get into action.

I applaud the Bush Administration for laying a little groundwork by forcing the decimation of national park budgets along with the money for those whiney poor people and others who don't make significant campaign contributions. There's a better use for that money, after all.

(Don't pay any attention to those liberal idiots who do things like publicly resign in protest, okay George? What do they want? A bunch of "polluting trees" or landscape full of artistically angular oil and gas wells? And we don't need to protect sick people either. Sick people don't have any money to contribute to political campaigns.)

Seriously. This time I'm going back to work and I'm not reading any more headlines today.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)
Point To Remember

Point To Remember

If governments lie, it matters.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)
The Blog On Tuesday

Apparently, it's the Era of the Lie. (I'm tired of this era. Can we move on already?)

Is Big Brother coming? Read the article carefully and you'll have to agree that if the Pentagon has their way, yes, the technology for a repressive, intrusive state mechanism to keep tabs on "troublemakers" (if not everyone) is distinctly under development.

And, speaking of intrusive government -

From the UK Times, we read that: Fat people will have to diet if they want to see the doctor. I'm annoyed that the Times links aren't working today.

Overweight people and heavy smokers would have to sign contracts promising to diet or give up cigarettes in return for treatment, under radical new plans being drawn up by Labour.
That's all I can get to, but it's enough to really infuriate me. What? Now everyone but the people likely to get sick can have medical care?

What about people who don't exercise? Lack of exercise has been proven to contribute significantly to high health risk. How about people not incredibly overweight but with lousy diets? That's a huge health risk, we'd better screen them out of the process too. How about those pipe and cigar smokers? They're at pretty high risk of oral cancer.

Heck, let's just do this up right. If there's any history of illness in your family, it's too expensive to treat you, so you can't see the doctor.

Sheesh. Morons.

I deplore the revelation that many post-9/11 detainees were treated harshly and I deplore even more the revelation that some were tortured, right here on USofA soil. I'd imagine a few low-level agents will get punished and the higher-ups who should have been responsible for setting the parameters of such detainments (I mean, assuming the Constitution wasn't considered clear on the 'rules') will go on their merry ways.

Tony Blair has refused to allow his government to set up an independent inquiry about the truth of those pesky WMD.

For those still believing in Bush's policies, most of which he previously implemented in Texas with disastrous results, take a look at this indictment of his "No Child Needs An Education Left Behind" mess.

And, in case you thought my earlier mention of this was a fluke, take a look at how corporations are still marketing in the classroom.


I'm going back to work.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)
June 02, 2003
Crimes not misdemeanors

Lock this guy up and throw away the key.

And, these guys, and their officers as well.

There will now be an extended pause while I calm down.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)
Back to the Blog

The first act of international terrorism here at home...was RFK's assassination?

This National Post article disses school uniforms, but what I want to know is, who decided on little kilts for the girls instead of a more sensible, unisex pants/trousers uniform? I'm not at all surprised they found people staring at them when they ran or adjusted their skirts in public.

Good gad, the Nooner is back at the OpinionJournal! Oh, no, my mistake. They're giving her (no doubt free of charge) space to shill advertise her forthcoming book. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't have enough distance from 9/11 myself yet to read about her "tender sense of appreciation for . . . the dead" so I won't be reading the book. I can't help but mention that the bits of vapid prose we're favored with in this excerpt read more like a book for wee tots than an introduction to a collection of essays for mature adults. (In any case, who wants a collection of her essays? Does she have some perception that she's some kind of national icon whose every word is worthy of celebration? What happened to the days when people were happy to wait until they retired, or died, and let posterity decide if their words should be saved?)

And while I'm dissing the OJ, why are they re-running 27 year-old columns?

Jeb's under fire for forgetting what's due to a campaign contributor and for forgetting to, you know, disclose illegally high donations.

Seems we could make up a significant amount of the budgetary shortfall if only someone had the nerve to call the military to heel and demand a little accountability in terms of the billions and billions of dollars they're given to spend.

Is it "here we go again" with an invastion of Iran in the offing ore we getting a little paranoid about the Bush Administration's Judeo-Christian imperialist aspirations?

Which, for some reason, leads me to tell you that I ordered me up a Killer D tee-shirt.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)
Okay, I'm blogging. Sue me.

I can't stand it. Everything in the news is interesting today. So, while I'm still working on picking one or two (or maybe three or five) topics to concentrate on in the future, here's the usual potpourri of links.

First, let's have a moment of silence in honor of the dying remains of the free press. Seems to me that plenty of "centralization" was already under way, but a few more actions like this one and the media giants won't even have to pretend. Certainly very few people are still pretending that the right to dissent is unfettered.

Make bricks, not war. Actually, this is a theme park I'd really like to visit. (Not that I'll give up the usual kind of theme parks. I love roller coasters.)

It would appear that there are those still claiming that the evidence of Weapons of Mysterious Disappearance in Iraq is "overwhelming."

"I've got in front of me the 173 pages of the unanswered disarmament questions which Dr. Blix put before the Security Council," Straw said. "Our point is this: Look, if Saddam had nothing to hide why had he failed over a 12-year period to provide answers to these questions?"
I don't know. Politics? Seems to be a good enough reason in this country.

Much as I loathed (and I did) Hussein, I don't have any problems visualizing a proud, even arrogant man who felt that his country and his culture were being insulted by "Westerners" demanding information. I have no problem seeing that this dance around WMD gave him power not only over the USofA but much of the rest of the world. He scared the world. He was a psychopathic, egotistical dictator, and all he had to do was not check off the required boxes to have the world shaking in its shoes. Why does what seems to me to be a simple point of psychology not explain this situation?

And why do we continue to blindly support Israel when, by this time, their responsibility for the continued Middle Eastern violence matches that of Palestine? I'm one who has always believed that no peace will work that isn't equitable for both sides. I never believed that Israel was a nation of innocent martyrs and I believe it even less today and we read more and more information indication that Israel is by-far the most heavily armed country in the Middle East.

Depleted uranium weapons are still evil. They've always been evil.

Studies have found that male soldiers who served in the Gulf War were almost twice as likely to have a child with a birth defect and female soldiers almost three times as likely.
This is the way our government repays soldiers who put their lives at risk in war.

Freidman has a Theory of Everything and is calling for comments. Me, in this story of intertwined and incestuous world economies, I see both the hope and the fear of the future. (A) Intertwined economies do, in fact, put pressure on governments not to go to war. (B) At the same time, intertwined economies create internal pressures on governments that can prevent them from protesting human rights abuses in other countries.

(A) means an end to bullet-driven wars.

(A) also opens the door to wars of economics any time a country has the temerity to buck the system.

(B) means countries can and will be prevented from standing together against the efforts of one country to dominate and subject their own citizens or other countries.

(B) means that the next time France has the nerve to stand up and tell us we're wrong, we won't stop with idiocies like "Freedom Fries." We'll do what we're currently terrorized that Saudi Arabia might do to us. We'll pull our economic investment out of France and drive them into a never-ending depression.

We can do that, you see, because we're the big bullies in this system. USofA corporations are the ones with their tentacles in all corners of the globe, the ones already conniving at terrorizing and murdering innocent civilians for the sake of profit. There's not really anyone else in the world who has, or who would be allowed to develop this power.

But enough of me. Read this.

(I had twenty more things I wanted to comment on, but that work ethic is calling me.)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)
June 01, 2003
Front Row at the White House (Thomas)

Front Row at the White House (by Helen Thomas)

It's a testament to the grief of the nation that although I was really too young to understand what a "President" was for, one of my most enduring early childhood memories is of the day F. Kennedy was assassinated and the days of mourning that followed.

LBJ I didn't understand at all but in my child's mind he was inextricably linked with something called'vietnamwar' which seemed to be a very bad thing indeed, so I determined that he must be a Bad Man and thought no more about politics until the day when Richard Nixon, with the pale, desperate face of a guilty man, shocked me by resigning the Presidency.

There was a lot happening politically during those intervening years. This book doesn't pretend to be a history of the country, but it taught me some of those things.

Helen's turf is (was) the White House-her focus the President, and she manages to provide the reader with a vivid, memorable snapshot of the historic occasions she's had the privilege to witness in her coverage of each Administration. Material that lets us glimpse the private man behind the President's public face isn't lacking and these glimpses add a warm, human dimension to some of the stories.

"Some of" the stories. Helen Thomas was, after all, a reporter during those years, and a reporter trained in the old school. (She may have "just the facts, ma'am" stenciled across her heart, for all I know.) There are times when the book is frustrating, when I'm certain that she should have been able to include a few opinions or a personal impression or two to add clarification or context to an event . . . but she doesn’t, because she's a reporter.

What she does offer is of amazing value. She discusses major policy moves of each Administration in the context of that Administration. She gives her opinion (briefly) of each man's commitment to the office.

And she stirs up memories. In the 80s, the 90s, and even today, I hear people speak about the wave of conservatism Reagan brought to the country and about his "legacy" in the way he changed politics and the White House, but looking back even farther, to the Nixon years, one finds the real roots of the "dirty tricks," secret agendas, and organized lying that characterize the White House today. Even more, I see LBJ, an admirable, a laudable leader on domestic social programs, instituting and sustaining a desperate disinformation campaign when it came to foreign policy-and Vietnam.

LBJ did more than any other president in the last 50 years for the poor and minority citizens of this country, but his lies about Vietnam brought him down.

Again and again, Thomas shows up how Presidents, no matter how worthy or how able, are brought low by the desperate lies they tell out of fear that the citizens of this country cannot understand or will not forgive human frailty. This lesson makes absorbing and thought-provoking reading for 400 solid pages.

There are incidents in the book I'd forgotten, and things I'd never known.

The coverage of the First Ladies was well-worth reading, as were the stories of the trials and tribulations of press secretaries.

Many events do not make an appearance in the book, as though these events in no way touched the political atmosphere in which she lived. (Kent State and the Challenger disaster are two. The Oklahoma City bombing rates a couple of short mentions. The 1993 World Trade Center bombing, significant, I think, as the first act of international terrorism on USofA soil, may as well not have happened at all, although I'll admit that it's possible that that event looks more significant today, in the wake of 9/11, than it might have in 1999 when she was writing.)

What she does cover, she covers with precision and without undue awe for the fallible men who have occupied the White House. Her respect for the country's institutions never wavers, even when she's detailing the worst of crimes committed by those in power.

In the end, the book is not a political analysis. It's exactly what the title says it is. Helen's view of the White House from JFK through the Clinton years.

It's a remarkable record.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)