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August 29, 2003
And then later....

The problem with turning to military "predictions" of the future is that, like all military minds, those of the men who write them are focused largely on the worst-case (for us) scenarios. I really think that kind of constantly alarmist thinking warps their brains, although it's possible some of them were warped anyhow.

You could read the 208-page report, or you could take the Center for Democracy and Technology's interpretation, as follows:

A Presidential Commission on the Postal Service released a report calling on the US Postal Service (USPS) to aggressively "explore the use of sender identification for every piece of mail, commercial and retail." CDT believes that intelligent mail can offer substantial benefits to mailers, especially in the commercial context, but the Commission ignored privacy concerns and the Constitutional right of anonymous political speech.

Generally I'm all about reading the source material before I form an opinion but I'll say right out that 208 pages worth of material on mailing a letter doesn't attract me.

Read Rothschild.

Few things frustrate some of us more than watching the White House struggle to "inform" the press without, you know, actually saying anything. The daily gaggle is usually a perfect example of that.

Whenever I need a little giggle, which I seem to do on Fridays, I pop over to ActivistCash and read the latest profiles on anti-consumer activist groups.

I think it's important for us all to keep an eye on what those subversives at the American Corn Growers Association are up to. It's probably even more important to be informed about those seditious maniacs over a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), who want to, wait for it, eliminate drinking and driving.

Even more that websites run by agenda-driven crazies, I like websites where those same crazies write with a sense of righteous conviction. It adds an air of surreality to the whole experience.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:38 PM | Comments (3)
Iraq, The Restoration, Angelina Jolie

Yesterday's second entry was lost due to a software bug - said bug being that the software is in use by an idiot - so I'm clicking buttons very carefully today.

Some days, it's an oddly mixed bag of headlines that attract me.

Maybe I'm just not flexible enough but it seems to me that every time I read what we're doing or considering doing in Iraq to get the country back on its feet, I disapprove.

At a deeper level, the wobbling credibility of the occupation undermines that occupation's financing. American officials still hope to raise money by selling off state-owned enterprises to foreign investors, though they have backed off on proposals to sell power plants and other utilities. But after the bombing of U.N. headquarters, who will buy? Officials have also floated the idea of pledging future oil revenues in return for loans, but it's far from clear whether an occupying power has the right to make such deals, let alone whether they would be honored by whoever is running Iraq a few years from now.

Selling off their economy is okay as long as you don't sell the oil? Maybe it wasn't All About The Oil, but every conversation about the country comes back to the subject, doesn't it?

It's a pity there weren't any regulations in place, or any farsighted elected officials prepared to do battle to protect our future from being mortgaged for the Administration's deeply flawed fantasy of world-wide democracy, isn't it?

This morning on NPR, I listened to them interview a woman who, with private donations from around the world, has send hundreds of air conditioners to Iraq. She was motivated by a story from her son who is on night patrol there and who complained that in his tent, during the heat of the day when he was supposed to be sleeping, it was so hot that his soap melted.

The military head honchos are, you understand, casually debated whether or not it was such a good idea after all to outsource most of their non-gun-toting functions to civilian contractors. They're not all convinced and most of them are insisting that things are getting better all the time, but a few of them have been heard to mumble doubts.*

(* For those curious, in spite of my earlier mockery, this wasn't actually a plan to save money. It's just that it takes a lot of people to support each fighting soldier. If you outsource the support functions, you leave more of your cannon fodder enlisted bodies free to actually, you know, go out and kill someone. It's a way to maximize the fighting impact of a limited fighting population. And it's not actually that bad of an idea. It just seems, now that push comes to shove, they overestimated civilian enthusiasm for entering a war zone.)

If you're an anglophile, or a history buff, you'll be interested in this. (Requires registration)

A Puritan's journal written in cryptic shorthand to foil the King's men paints a vivid picture of 1600s London, reports Will Bennett
A remarkable million-word account of life in late 17th century England which is as vivid as Samuel Pepys's diary has been transcribed by experts after lying largely forgotten for more than three centuries.

I'd read all six volumes if I could lay my hands on them.

Looks like if you read the right publications, the Russian press can be as bitchy as any decadent Western publication.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)
August 28, 2003
I Dunno

A Small Group of Dedicated People Might Actually Do Something. She's right. I don't think anyone would argue the truth of this headline.

I doubt, however, the, well, not the intelligence of people who say these things. I doubt the knowledge, which is a very different thing. We can't just band together, rise up, and overthrow the corporations. No one in their right minds should want to do such a thing. They are the lifeblood of our prosperity.

"The big corporate empires would be powerless if they were not in league with crooked politicians." That's just not true.

Corporations are, like any living entity, intent on their own growth and survival and that's as it should be. With each swing of the pendulum between the Left and the Right over the last 80 years, regulations have been put into place, struck down, reinterpreted, and abandoned until those who run the corporations decided, quite understandably, that government was the enemy and began to work around or even in opposition to it. And that's natural.

Read More »

Posted by AnneZook at 10:29 AM | Comments (2)
August 27, 2003
All In A Day's News

Oh. My. God. Considering that Dubya was AWOL in the eyes of 99.9999999 percent of the USofA citizenship on 9/11, just howinthehell are they going to make them the "hero" of a movie on the subject?

You gotta be amused, though, by the reminder that Bush was allowed to sit in a classroom reading books to kids while Cheney, clearly of more importance to Those That Know, was whisked off to a secure (and, one presumes, bomb-proof) basement location.

Suicide attempts at Guantanamo Bay have now reached 32.

Read More »

Posted by AnneZook at 03:03 PM | Comments (2)
August 26, 2003
Mostly stupidity

In what is apparently an attempt to show our amazing empathy with the complexities of the Jewish-Arab conflict, we're reportedly exploring sending Iraq's oil to Israel. Yeah, because that's going to increase both our and Israel's popularity in the Middle East.

Hutchinson seems to be wondering what happened to the civil rights movement. Interesting column.

He doesn't like to read (It's pretty clear to most people paying attention that he didn't read the briefing book on what 'compassionate conservatism' was really going to produce, anyhow) and he's not comfortable with technology. Yeah, he's the perfect president for the 21st century, isn't he? (I mean, I don't expect the man to carry a pager - if someone doesn't know where he is at every moment, we're in trouble, but he should at least, I don't know, act like he could use a cell phone if he needed to.)

And, speaking of stupid, it looks like those infamous '10 commandments' are, well, they're not quite 'cast in stone' no matter what the Alabama judge erected on government property. Not surprisingly, some of the ones whitewashed out of existence were pretty unsavoury. Also not surprisingly, most of the ones y'all think you know are actually altered versions of the original text.

I mention this because I know that even when faced with direct evidence of people tampering with and adjusting the text, most religious people won't admit that said commandments are anything but the absolute word of god and such wilfull stupidity just aggravates me at a time in the world when you'd think we'd matured past cowering the dark, afraid of invisible monsters, much less killing each other over old superstitions.

Country's in shambles and economy's gutted and schools are shot and Iraq's a violent bloody mess and joblessness is rampant and it's a proud time indeed to be an American, and hence you might be asking yourself, what, pray what, can I give the hardcore lockstep pseudo-Christian homophobic Republican on my gift list?

Heh. Heh. I didn't make it over to read Morford's column last Friday, but I read it today.

Maybe it was all just a typo, have you thought of that? I mean, we went ballistic and invaded Iraq and killed a few hundred or a few thousand people (and, in the process, rid the world of two of Hussein's offspring which, no matter how your count it, has to be a plus in the Bush Administration's record), but maybe those intelligence reports about nuclear weapons development should have said IraN and not IraQ?

Posted by AnneZook at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)
August 25, 2003
Still Monday

Dyckman is right. The Economist, that bastion of financial and political conservatives that glowed with fervor at the mention of Reagan's name, dissing Bush is a pretty major indication that thoughtful conservatives can no longer pretend that All's Well in Washington.

For those still pretending the Administration truly expected to find WMD in Iraq, you might want to consider that failing to protect the archive that contained any and all information about any kinds of weapons programs wasn't a smart way to start the hunt. If you were the suspicious type, you might further wonder if the Administration decided it would be a better thing if said 'hunt' could be dragged out until the short-attention-span USofA media got tired of talking about it as opposed to actually, you know, producing any weapons.

Read Chris Nelson today. The SPL link was broken when I tried it, but you can surf the site to find the material he refers to.

Over on Crooked Timber, Henry has a horror story to tell abut his latest international flight. I'm sure you're all smart enough to see that this only large-scale effort to cut down on terrorists entering USofA soil has already become a farce due to, poorly defined goals, poor funding, and just general poverty of intelligence on the part of those responsible.

Oh, and that fifth camp in Guantanamo Bay that I was talking about earlier. Brace yourself for a big shock. Hallibuton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root won the no-bid contract. Why doesn't the Bush Administration just go ahead and hand the country over to Halliburton?

Here's breakdown of who gets the money for reconstructing Iraq.

$4.8M - no current time estimate - Recommend improvements to ports
$7.1 - 90-day contract - Consulting on how to reconstruct a country
$10 - $43.8M - 12 month contract - Public health support consulting (No actual aid. Just advice.)
$1M - $62M - 12 month contract - Consulting on building schools
$7.9 – 167.9M - 12-month contract - apparently training local government
$34.6 - $680M - Infrastructure rebuilding (Bechtel)
Unlimited - Repair oil wells (Kellogg Brown & Root)

Go on over and read the commentary on each award. You'll find it interesting.

(Last two items both via Cursor.)

Boy, I'm sure reassured about their priorities, aren't you? I mean, they're completely prepared to spend one million dollars on schools. Oh, wait. That's one million dollars to talk about building schools.

Like the 90-days they've committed to planning this fiasco of a reconstruction, this list of their priorities fails to impress me on a level I really can't convey.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)
War everywhere

To everyone's surprise, it seems that coverage of the Israeli-Palestine conflict isn't quite, to use a phrase in the public domain, fair and balanced.

This reporter is out of love with the USofA and I encourage you to read, and consider, his story of his sojourn on these shores. In the wake of 9/11, France's Le Monde carried the headline, 'Now, We Are All Americans'. The other day, the headline read, ''Seul contre tous' - alone against everyone.

It's also educational. "Who knew that, of the three power grids constituting the US system, one was solely for Texas!"

If you don't know about The Project For the New American Century, you really need to. It is, as Vulliamy points out, the fount of the Bush Administration's foreign policy and the breeding ground for most of the senior advisors now in Washington. From the front page of their website:

The Project for the New American Century is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle; and that too few political leaders today are making the case for global leadership.
The Project for the New American Century intends, through issue briefs, research papers, advocacy journalism, conferences, and seminars, to explain what American world leadership entails. It will also strive to rally support for a vigorous and principled policy of American international involvement and to stimulate useful public debate on foreign and defense policy and America's role in the world.

Note the part about "useful public debate." In case you were wondering, no, that doesn't mean us.

At the same time the world is protesting conditions, and what amount to secret trials in Guantanamo, we're building a fifth cam to house all of our not-quite-POW prisoners. Some of those men have been there for nearly two years. Good thing there's no mandate for a speedy trial for this country's accused criminals or anything.

I have nothing to say about the bombings in Bombay Anyone who doesn't already know my opinion of murder-for-god hasn't been paying attention. My sympathy does go out to the families and loved ones of the victims.

Reportedly, 1,000 people were massacred in Libya, making a mockery of the "peace" arranged after Taylor stepped down.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:18 AM | Comments (1)
August 24, 2003
A little maintenance

Nothing much to say. Just a bit of tweaking going on.

Just so your mouse click wasn't wasted:

Ouch Yeah, it's funny, but it was also me for about ten years. A little embarrassing to remember, now.

Congratulations to Prometheus 6 on the new home!

Posted by AnneZook at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)