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October 03, 2003

Friendly fire' is a fact of war and covering it up isn't going to make it go away.

The article is also worth reading for this:

Marines insist the pilot should have recognized the tub-shaped AAVs as U.S. assault vehicles. Only the Marine Corps has them.

"There is nothing like an AAV," said Schielein, of Peoria, Illinois. "I mean, the biggest vehicle that the Iraqis even had was a pick-up truck with a machine gun in the back."

Yeah, these people were a major threat to the USofA, half a world away.

And, back to Limbaugh, here's an illustration of that "stirring up debate" I was mentioning earlier.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)
Two Final Thoughts

Once again, the Bush Administration lets big business off the hook, leaving taxpayers holding the bag. (It's lunchtime, so I thought I'd mix up a metaphor or two.)

Actually, that's not quite accurate. The Bush Administration has slashed taxes and under-budgeted a lot of things, including Superfund, so the reality is that toxic waste will, in the future, just...sit there. Polluting the air, spoiling the water, destroying the ecology, and contaminating the food we eat while, in some cases, causing or accelerating the development of a range of diseases.

Before you scream that he's not (not, I say! Not!) really anti-environment, go take a look at the history of Houston over the past ten years or so.

Anyhow. Let's follow some other money....

Have you reviewed the provisions of the Fiscal 2003 Supplemental Appropriations Bill Conference Report?

If you're like me, the answer is, well, no, don't be stupid. You can give yourself an aneurysm trying to read legalese and it's Friday afternoon and if I want brain damage, I'll go out and have a few drinks which, actually, others might do but I wouldn't because I've given it up but I do have shopping scheduled for the weekend, so I'm saving my energy for that.


Here's an analysis. For those suspicious, it's not some left-wing trick, okay? It's money for the DoD, Homeland Security, Iraq, and a few other items.

Read it all you lazy bum. This analysis is in short, easy-to-read language and you'll want to consider the implications of the request (denied and removed) to give the "Executive Office of the President" full power to spend 2.5B of a Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund" they wanted in connection with Iraq. In the final version, Bush, et. al., don't get a completely free hand, but they were given "unprecedented flexibility."

As a little reward, down at the bottom, we even get a breakout of the pork attached to the bill. Before you skim down to look, I'll tell you it's a much shorter list than you might expect.

Among other requests, a "$150 million slush fund for "complex foreign crises"" was cut from the final version. Sadly, we're not told who tried to sneak this into the mix.

Also, I'm dying to know why " $500,000 for collaboration between Aberdeen, MD high school and Aberdeen Proving Ground" was included. Why did Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania get $100K?

What this analysis needed was gossipy details about each provision of the bill.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:36 PM | Comments (2)
A Handful of Headlines

Reports like this don't surprise me. The Republican blue-collar vote has been gradually increasing for a long time. White-collar "professionals" tend to vote Democrat.

It is an odd reversal. In my misspent youth, blue-collar workers saw the Democratic Party as the one that represented and cared about them. Such a shift isn't unprecedented, of course. If you review the history of party politics in this country, you can easily see how an issue can appear on the Republican platform in one year, only to resurface in the Democratic platform a few years later. Party platforms are largely dependent upon the entire socio-economic climate of this country, not to mention (increasingly) the world. (It's easier to see if you look, at a minimum, at decade-long or twenty-five year intervals.) Issues shift back and forth depending upon a complex interworking between each issue, the actual people in power in the party, and, very importantly, what the other party is interested in.

In this instance, the weakening of unions is allowing blue-collar workers, those probably most likely to respond to manufactured patriotism and empty rhetoric, to be swayed to the Republican side of the vote. I'm not dissing blue-collar workers, so don't write me hate mail. It's just that blue-collar workers are a group unlikely to actually have the time it takes to unravel complex political issues where you can't trust the politician to be telling the unspun truth. Where there's a strong, an active, or an influential union, members count on the leadership to evaluate political issues and advise them. There there's no union, or a weak union, there's unlikely to be the same guidance. That leaves the, "little money and no time" blue-collar worker at the mercy of the so-called liberal media and whatever it sees fit to print, or not print.

I love posting these half-considered thoughts. I always get mail objecting to the lack of depth in my coverage (it's just a blog, people, and nowhere on the page do I claim any pretense to scholarship), my left-wing bias (apparently that comes as a surprise to some readers), or the general psychosis I'm exhibiting by not lockstepping behind the current Administration. I can't wait until I get a chance to start writing up my next book review this weekend. That one's going to annoy a few people, I hope, since I'm planning to argue against democracy.

And, speaking of lockstepping, here's the story of a woman at a Springsteen concert who was apparently outraged to discover that he's both political and liberal. " I hear echoes of the Vietnam War era all over again." So do I, Judy. (Others also continue to use the specter of Vietnam when discussing Iraq.)

Also from Common Dreams, people besides just me are frustrated at the lack of clarity in the Democratic field of challengers' platforms. You can run, and win, by being against someone, but eventually you'll be in office and you'll have to be for something. Better to define it up front and see if you have any actual support for what you believe.

(But this is just absurd.)

More on California's Proposition 54.

Kenya's judges may sound like a cheap deal but in such a poor country, it's probably tough for most people to get $50 together. Democracy is amazingly more democratic toward the rich.

A trap kills two soldiers and wounds three others. No, not Iraq. It's Afghanistan, the War That Bush Forgot, and the soldiers were Canadians. My sympathies to their families and loved ones. Land mines are a curse.

The lone Washington Post reporter in the country is finding coverage of all that's happening to be hard going. And the situation is, she tells us, "heating up."

Looks like it's Ashcroft and Rove day as the alternate press continues to dig into the long-time ties between these two. When they start filling in the Cheney-shaped blanks, we'll have the Big Three.

I haven't said much about the 9/11 air quality reports. I agree that in the weeks that followed, there should have been testing and requirements for protective gear but I ascribe neither malice nor stupidity to the statements, shortly after the attacks, that the air was okay to breathe. I think those who say that the EPA's first statements should have warned of dangers are suffering from some serious amnesia concerning the state the country was in during that first week or so.

On the other hand, I have no problem with passing along a new link to the Rush Limbaugh - All-American Drug Addict story. While part of me feels that what he really needs is help, part of me is also glad to see such a sanctimonious hypocrite developing a tarnish on his right-wing halo.

Back in 1995, Limbaugh told his audience on the syndicated Rush Limbaugh, The Television Show that people who are obtaining drugs illegally should be held responsible.

I accept, and agree, that mouthpieces like Limbaugh stir up valuable debate on important topics, but, like any garbage can, the general utility of the thing doesn't mean I have to pretend it smells good.

The UN in crisis?

In a typical, brain-twisting reversal of conventional logic, the report says that, so far, no WMD have been found in Iraq and Bush says that's proof Hussein was a danger to the world. (I said it before, remember? It's better to have WMD than to tell pretend you do. Developing WMD gets you appeasement and frequently multi-billion dollar pay-offs. Playing chicken gets you hell, or exile.) Anyhow, mockery aside, discoveries were made in Iraq and it's worth reading about them.

And it would seem that just because we need $87 billion to pay for some of Bush's war ravages doesn't figure, in Republican minds, as any reason why corporations should pay the taxes they owe.

We also tried nation-building in Bosnia.

Pity the child who had a snack attack in a DC metro subway.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)
October 02, 2003
Well, well, well

Via Avedon Carol (who got there via Mark and isn't the internet a weird and wonderful place?), a little more, no, a lot more about our spending in Iraq. This is the kind of thing I'd like to see our candidates debating. It's not that I object to Iraqis receiving universal health care benefits. I just wonder why those in need here at home aren't entitled to the same thing. And don't forget to read down to the part where Bush's campaign initiative, "No Child Left Behind" is getting the guts cut out of it.

We all know that Saddam Hussein kicked the U.N. weapons inspectors out of Iraq in 1998, which is what led up to the current crisis. Or did he?

Soldiers are dying in Iraq. And being attacked every hour, it seems.

And the Administration continues to display its incompetence at nation-building.

It's like a drinking game at our house (except without the alcohol since we're not drinkers). Shrieking gratuitous produce placement alert! at those casual references to brand name references sprinkled into movies and television shows.

And, for the record? That new crop of commercials recycling everything from Elvis to some of the worst songs of the 80s? I'm never buying any of that stuff. And that goes double for any company using old Beatle's tunes to shill their products.

Okay, moving on.

If there's a "good way" to handle the kinds of allegations Schwarzenegger is facing, this is probably it.

Warning, mini-rant follows.

A good reason to be against California's Proposition 54 is the man behind it. Always check who is funding an initiative if you want to know the real intent behind it.

This is a man who wasn't "convinced ethnic studies reflected "a sound academic curriculum rather than the political correctness mindset' " but who, as a member of the California Board of Regents, apparently failed to, I don't know, do something productive like having the course of study objectively reviewed and accepting suggestions for improvement.

Add that to his symbiotic relationship with former governor Wilson and his attachment to Ronald Reagan and you have someone steeped in ultra-conservativism, the exact part of our society most opposed to leveling the playing field for women and minorities.

I'm just saying, okay? If you want to know how "equally" we're learning to treat each other, then you have to measure. You can't just announce that we've had affirmative action for decades now and everything is hunky-dory and we're tired of it.

While the majority of our prison population is minority citizens, while a disproportionate number of minority black men choose the armed forces as their only access to a better future, and while the overwhelming majority of people in posts of power in this country are still old, white guys, you can't say the playing field is level.

Not everyone of minority background is going to find wealthy Republican mentors to give them a leg up in the world. I applaud this guy's personal success but I don't see why he should use it to block the ability of others to achieve the same thing.

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

Let's all remember, when a politician says they're "stepping down to spend more time with their family, it's code, either for, "they told me to go away" or "I can't take it any longer.

Death in Iraq doesn't even seem to make CNN's front page any more.

How are we spending our money in Iraq? Well, pretty much the way the military always spends money. $600 for toilet seat, $900 for a hammer, stuff like that. Take a look, and don't forget the $600 million to hunt for WMD.

I keep wondering how "the public," that vast, half-attentive mass that constitutes the majority in this country, is going to react to the news that the USofA and other U.N. countries fell for a shell game regarding Hussein's WMD.

But it's not as simple as just bailing out on the Middle East entirely. Simple-minded solutions won't work. Anyhow, we bear a significant percentage of responsibility for the problems the area is facing.

And there are more rumblings from North Korea. You remember North Korea. That's the war we didn't win before we didn't win Vietnam and before we turned our attention, for a few decades, to losing the war on drugs with little experiments like the Iran-Contra affair, which happened not long before the "Gulf War" which we still seem to be in the process of fighting. Anyhow. I don't know where I was going with that, but North Korea's churning out nukes.

How do the current crop of Democratic candidates stand on the issue of our country's poor? Is it, in fact, "too early" for them to be taking serious positions on serious matters? Does anyone but me think that a lack of concrete plans for how to change the direction this country is going might be contributing to "the public's" inability to distinguish one candidate from another?

And don't miss this bit of info . It's regarding the current investigation into an alleged leak of classified information, namely the name of an undercover CIA operative.

Is Ashcroft the worst attorney general in history?

I might want to switch my cell phone to a new provider. I don't intend to have to have a new number. Nor do I intend to pay extortionate charges for the imaginary "work" it requires the provider to give me my number.

It's good to have a smile in your day.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:27 AM | Comments (2)
October 01, 2003
Brace yourself


Via Mark Moford, of course.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:07 AM | Comments (1)
Op-Ed Day

Don't Forget Afghanistan

The Iraq Reconstruction Bonanza

Making Terrorists

Faking It (okay, I retitled that one)

Embedded Ads in TV Stories

The Bush Crony Full-Employment Act of 2003

The Wilson Affair

Beware Saviours in Hard Hats

Tilting at Windmills

Dems' Class of 2004

The Thing Keeps Devouring Our Democracy

Skimping on the Peace

Losing the Troops

Sticker Shock and Awe

Posted by AnneZook at 09:21 AM | Comments (0)
September 30, 2003
What you should know

Via SeetheForest, a few unpalatable items about those who run the fraud-inviting electronic balloting machines.

The technology had a trial run in the 2002 midterm elections. In Georgia, serviced by new Diebold systems, a popular Democratic governor and senator were both unseated in what the media called "amazing" upsets, with results showing vote swings of up to 16 percent from the last pre-ballot polls. In computerized Minnesota, former Vice President Walter Mondale -- a replacement for popular incumbent Paul Wellstone, who died days before the vote -- was also defeated in a large last-second vote swing. Convenient "glitches" in Florida saw an untold number of votes intended for the Democratic candidate registering instead for Governor Jeb "L'il Brother" Bush. A Florida Democrat who lost a similarly "glitched" local election went to court to have the computers examined -- but the case was thrown out by a judge who ruled that the innards of America's voting machines are the "trade secrets" of the private companies who make them.

Coming soon to an election near you, folks. You might want to consider making a little protest before we're reorganized as a repressive theocracy. Especially those of you who have been making fun of France for the past few months, because you're sure going to be embarrassed if they wind up having to come over here and liberate us.

Body and Soul has some good links.

If this kind of thing is actually true, then the whole Bush family is crookeder than I thought, and I already had a fairly low opinion of them.

Via Cursor, a perspective on the Iraq situation. And then there's more here.

And a report that Cheney is as dangerous, venal, and extremist as some of us have been hinting. Actually, these reports are showing up in more and more places, which is good.

And TomPaine breaks this as "new" news, but many of us saw it happening quite a while ago. The biggest problem I have with giving tax dollars to "faith-based" charities is that they tend to lack the organization, oversight, and accountability built in to other systems. I mean, look at the results of Bush's decision to give tax money to faith-based organizations in Texas.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:21 AM | Comments (2)

Yesterday morning, CNN's little poll on their website was something about whether or not you agree with Clark that Bush is an embarrassment to the people of this country. When I read reports like this, I can only think, hell, yes.

David Brooks is perpetrating the myth of the liberal university. He says conservatives have to hide their political beliefs or they won't get tenure but he fails to point out that tenure is the golden ring granted to only a fraction of university professors under any circumstances. Also:

Conservative professors emphasize that most discrimination is not conscious. A person who voted for President George W. Bush may be viewed as an oddity, but the main problem in finding a job is that the sort of subjects a conservative is likely to investigate - say, diplomatic or military history - do not excite hiring committees.
First, that's a dumb remark. There are plenty of liberals interested in "diplomatic or military history."

But let's assume that it's true. Then we have to ask ourselves just how many specialists in "diplomatic or military history" any one university needs. Maybe it's not that they won't give tenure to conservatives. Maybe it's just that conservatives are keeping themselves out of the running by not selecting a subject that a university might be interested in to round out its staff.

In any case, the university atmosphere is "hostile and discriminatory" to a lot of people, regardless of their political beliefs and with the recent decision that underrepresented minorities, who don't have the option of being "really quiet" about who they are, are no longer to be given all they help they can get to help level the playing field, I really don't have a lot of energy left to cry for conservatives who might not get tenure some day.

On the other hand, you should absolutely read this David Brooks column, because he hits the nail on the head. I'd have been more impressed if he'd come up with this suggestion that we all get back to debating the issues when there wasn't a fallible and failing Republican in office, but I understand he probably would have choked if he'd tried it, so whatever. (And then, heh, heh, I read the rest of his column and I get to the last paragraph and I have to laugh.)

Hah. Krugman agrees with me! (Okay, he's unaware of my existence. But he says, better than I've been able to, that comparisons of "nation-building" in Iraq to what took place in post-war Europe are bogus.) He also takes a couple of passing potshots at the more ubiquitous examples of 'cronyism' in Iraq. (I would like it if he, or anyone would point out that the USofA's behavior over that cell phone service matter belies any pretense of allowing the free market a hand in the country.)

And then, of course, there's always really depressing news.

I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. An episode like this isn't, "a tragic story arising out of irreconcilable cultural differences between traditional Kurdish values and the values of western society" it's mental illness.

(Yes, I know all about the repressive treatment of women in those cultures, but there's a difference between an "honor killing", repugnant as the concept is, and a man who suffers years of depression, beats a girl for months, then stabs her repeatedly before trying to commit suicide. The fact that he's now begging the authorities to put him to death is also an indication of how sick he is. Not that I don't agree that he deserves it.)

Historically I've always disapproved of the eradication of various cultures around the world as more and more countries become homogonously Westernized, but there are some facets of other cultures that need to be eradicated.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)
September 29, 2003
Still war

We don't hear more news from Afghanistan because the national press doesn't have many reporters there. I predict that the resurgence of Taliban activity is going to increase reader/viewer interest in the country, but not, of course, unless there's a reporter there to write about it.

As you all know now, the report is in and there was no proof that Hussein had new WMD under development. I haven't said much in the past few months about the WMD issue but the truth is that most of the world believed Hussein had WMD or had them under construction. As it turns out, this was one of the biggest con jobs in the history of international politics.

"The absence of proof that chemical and biological weapons and their related development programs had been destroyed was considered proof that they continued to exist,"

That's not, if you want to be fair, a really stupid assumption. In fact, I'd imagine most people, lacking proof that something had been destroyed, would assume it continued to exist. The problem in this situation, as I think we all understand, is the gigantic rush the Administration was in to get on with a war in Iraq. They had a full-scale war against the precise kind of terrorists responsible for 9/11 underway, but they pushed it to the back burner to go after Iraq.

Since they decided to use the pretense of their "war on terrorism" as a rationale for invading Iraq, they're going to have to pay the price as their clumsily constructed lies fall apart. This is in large part due to their own stupid blindness. For instance, backing convicted criminal Chalabi to head a new Iraqi government, a long-time pet project of some neo-cons, might come back and bite them. It seems that people outside that "inner circle" are already learning that the "evidence" of Hussein's WMD program, as supplied by Chalabi and others wasn't, shall we say, quite perfect.

On the other hand, it's worth remembering that the report of the Congressional committee was not unanimous. The problem with politicians is that it's hard to tell when they're working and when they're playing politics.

Although not of the MD variety, weapons continue to be found in the country.

And it's not like there isn't good news from the country, although I don't know if school-age kids would agree.

On the other hand, Strafor doesn't agree with the Administration position that we're not making war on Islam. Okay, maybe there's some semantic hair-splitting between "Islam" and "the Islamist world" but it's one of those differences that makes almost no difference.

Maureen Down tells us of a truly ghastly new publishing effort - an apparent attempt to canonize Rumsfeld.

As the major players decry the "complete failure" of the WTO conference in Cancun, it seems there are a few dissenting opinions on the subject.

Me, I always read Krugman in the NYT. I think he's interesting and thought-provoking. This truthout article about him is equally interesting.

Accustomed to the vigorous ivy league tradition of calling a stupid argument a stupid argument (and isolated, at home in New Jersey, from the Washington dinner-party circuit frequented by so many other political columnists) he has become pretty much the only voice in the mainstream U.S. media to openly and repeatedly accuse George Bush of lying to the American people: first to sell a calamitous tax cut, and then to sell a war.

Ahh, forget it. My heart just isn't in this today.

And I don't care what anyone else says, I'm eagerly anticipating the debut of the new Dr. Who series. I don't know when it will show up in the USofA, but I'll be watching. And I do not want to see an "Americanized" version of the show.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)