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December 24, 2003
A Little More Stuff

Ralph Luker on, well, a lot of things.

Atrios says the DLC seems to want Dean to lose more than they want to beat Bush. I always like it when someone points that out. We need to add "DLC" to the places/organizations requiring a little regime change.

Via Hellblazer, here's an argument that terrorism isn't the kind of organized crime we've been led to believe. The idea that someone wakes up one day and decides to "become a terrorist" is a bit disingeniuous. People don't "decide" to "become a terrorist." They decide to redress some wrong they think someone, or some country, or some government, has done them. It's all crime, "terrorism" is just a word we use to describe what we've identified as a certain kind of crime.

But there's good in the world. Our UPS carrier just brought today's shipment. One package, and he brought it into my office and insisted that I make sure it was the gift he knew one of our guys had been waiting for. Before he left this area of the city, he wanted to make sure there were no undelivered gifts he could track down for us.

Seriously. All questions of political or religious differences aside, y'all have a good time between now and the next time we talk, okay? With whatever holiday you are and or are not celebrating at the moment.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)
Big Brother Is Here

Call it what you will. Historical revisionism. Outright lying. Rewriting yesterday, right in front of your eyes. Remaking the world into what they think it should have been and not what it is.

Many bloggers, mostly those of us on the Left, have been warning about this, but a lot of you don't seem to be paying attention.

We're not crazy, okay?

They're doing it.

And they think no one is going to care. They're admitting it openly. This shows how much respect they have for us.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:33 AM | Comments (2)
Bored and Lonely

Doesn't look like anyone else is showing up for work today, which annoys me. My boss told me to go ahead and take the day off but a couple of people (who don't have door keys) had asked if I'd be in because they wanted to come in, so I dragged myself in here and here I sit. All alone.

Aggravating people.

I was afraid Molly Ivins was taking a couple of weeks off here around the holidays but she had a new column up a couple of days ago and there's another one today. She's got book recommendations for the gift shopping procrastinator, and I see there's a new Reginald Hill out! I may have to do some more "for me" shopping.

Looks like no matter what Nader learned or didn't learn from Election 2000, the Green Party learned something. They're not backing him for President in 2004. Mind you, they didn't learn a lot. They're still fielding a candidate, it just won't be Ralph.

Apparently no one can tell if the new Opus strip is a winner or no. I adored Bloom County and couldn't get into Outland and haven't seen the new strip, so I have no opinion.

It is difficult to get excited about life forms on to which we normally pour disinfectant - but we should.

It appears that we're looking for slime on Mars. If I know this country, before we even find any slime, there will be six corporations offering products specifically designed to eradicate it and leave the planet clean and smelling lemon-fresh.

(I'm not sure what's wrong, but I'm a little bitter about the USofA today. It could be last night's television viewing, where it seemed to me that every commercial not trying to convince me I needed a new car was telling me that some part of my body or my home was filthy and stinky and that I needed to run out and buy some new environmentally toxic product to remove any lingering taint of human occupation.)

William Safire is talking like an idiot. I can't figure what it is about Dean's extremely centrist views and voting record that gives the Republicans such a bad case of the fraidy-cats, you know? They're trying everything, and some of it twice, in a desperate attempt to convince the voting public that he's not only an extremist nut but that he's unelectable. Clearly they're terrified and they think Dean has a better-than-good chance of whomping Bush in '04, but in my eyes, it's not that obvious.

On the other hand, it doesn't bother me at all that Soros is keeping them awake nights. In spite of their outraged howls that there's a rich man in the country who isn't a Republican, this is the same tactic they use against the Democrats (let's not forget that the whole California recall was the project of one multi-millionaire). I think it's quite fitting that they're going to have to divert some of their hundreds of millions to countering the moves of Soros' group. And, with any luck, the media might, just might stir itself to start pointing out the absolutely obscene amounts of money the Bush re-election campaign is raking in, not to mention where it's coming from.

If you're feeling intellectual, you can go read The Politics of Energy: Oil & Gas How a gusher of giveaways to oil and gas industry was crafted in Congress.

Or War and William Shakespeare.

If you're not, you can read Werts on the subject of what television "Christmas episodes" will be airing in the next 24 hours. I have no idea why someone thought this was worthy of a column but whatever.

On the other hand, and it's totally just my opinion, Jon Stewart and politics is always a winning combination.

Drat. I read The Philosoraptor on the necessity of civility and now I feel guilty about half the things I've said in the past week.

On the other hand, there's been a lot of discussion that Democrats need to fight Republicans on their own lying, twisted, scorched-earth level in order to get the attention of the voters, and there's no denying that it's Dean's anger that's earned him the top spot among Democratic hopefuls so far.

Plus which, it's asking a lot of human nature to ask people to take this kind of thing calmly. Taking the high road is a lot easier when your opposition isn't obsessed with exploring the depths to which the low road can take them.

Either way, I'd like to give Andrew Cline everything he wants for Christmas this year. Especially #2 and #7.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)
December 23, 2003
The Old Blogaround

So, go read Crooked Timber's "Four quotations bearing on choice and responsibility."

And then read Josh Chafetz excerpting a WSJ article. Unfortunately, the article itself isn't available any more. I'd have liked to have read it all.

Read Jim on anti-Asian racism.

And in the, Oh ICK department, you can read about yet more organized racism. That's the racists next door and the 'feminist' white supremacists.

Also, the pledge drive (so to speak) is over, but if you have an extra $5 or $10, I'm pretty sure Chris could always use a bit more to finance his next trip East. And don't forget to check out the post on the winding down of the search for WMD while you're there. (I don't link to Chris often, even though I always read his blog. I assume you all already read it.)

Josh says we're not to get all invested in that story that Hussein was a Kurdish prisoner and they turned him over to us because it's probably not true or at least he's not impressed with the "journalism" of the stories he's seen. He doesn't address the magical mystery DNA test, though.

On the same topic, Tacitus seems to be on the verge of joining the, hey, this ain't quite right crowd, though, so who knows?

Speaking of differences between the USofA's government and the citizens (Not that we were), take a look at KC Johnson's discussion of the expansionism vs. anti-imperialism tension in the USofA and consider whether or not the "anti-imperialism" feeling might not stem from the perception that empires aren't very democratic.

If you scroll down to the next entry, you can read Oscar Chamberlain being even less polite about Michael Crichton's pretensions to expertise in the field of environmentalism than I was the other day. (The sites' permalinks seem to be wacky today.)

Tom Englehardt over at Tom Dispatch has convinced me to buy John Larner's book. I adore those old maps that show you where the dragons lived. If you keep reading on down, you'll also find out how Ashcroft & Co. are keeping us safe from the kind of terrorist journalists who are conspiring to interview Olivia Newton-John.

Oh, and for those of you who haven't updated your bookmarks, be warned that I've deleted the old version of Peevish, the one that lived on Blogspot, so you'll never be here again unless you bookmark this site today.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)
Thinking about it

I've been called bad names occasionally and mostly it doesn't bother me. I just consider the source, which is usually laughable and saunter on my way, blissfully content with in own superiority. (What an ugly sentence.)

For instance, I remember being called anti-Semitic in the comments section of a (conservative) blog not too long ago. Since I'm pretty much equal-opportunity anti-religion, meaning I don't care if other people want to be superstitious but don't think this country should be run on the basis of reading ancient runes or fortune cookies or the oracular pronouncements of Roman-era deities and when someone's obsession with reading entrails and calculating the position of the planets starts influencing public policy I get rabidly annoyed and the name-calling didn't really bother me.

(There will be a brief pause while I get a grip on my syntax.)

Anyhow. It's easy to be called anti-Semitic these days. It's like a blog's comments being spammed by a wingnut -- you haven't really arrived until it's happened to you.

And then, you see, I read The Return of Anti-Semitism and I started feeling just a little uneasy.

Mind you, I could still care less about "Jewish" or "not."

Not much less, but less. I couldn't care less about the religious thing except as it's used as a reason to kill people. Everyone's entitled to their hobby, after all, and when the International Embroidery Association starts ganging up on the Cooperative of Home Knitters, I promise you I'll be dissing both of them with equal passion.

Besides, it definitely hits a hot button of mine when I hear that there may be a groundswell of organized opposition to a group of just-as-law-abiding-as-anyone-else people based solely on a belief system that, near as I can tell, they're not trying to force on anyone else. (A phrasing that nicely allows me to exempt the rightwing extremists from my policy of personal tolerance....)

On the other hand, it seems to me that that description could almost equally well apply to citizens of Israel and to Palestinians. (At least, for the average, garden-variety citizens of both populations. I make no claims of being able to understand suicide bombers or any stripe of religious extremist. Or, for that matter, politicians.)

Anyhow, I was appalled by myself, and all the more so after a cursory afternoon of research at the local library.

Like many (non-Jewish) USofA citizens, I tend to think of Israel, sweepingly but vaguely, as a "Jewish state" in spite of the fact that I know the country has a large and fast-growing Muslim population and that if Israel doesn't act soon to give the Palestinians their own country, the whole "war" will be a moot point because in perfectly fair, democratic elections, the Muslim majority is going to change the face of "Israel" but that's not really what we're here to discuss today.

Much of what the article charges is true. I do recall that Israel and Palestine were on the verge of signing a peace agreement when Arafat inexplicably torpedoed the peace plan and set off a wave of (more or less) continuing suicide bombings. I was in one of my extended "non-political" periods and didn't question the situation at the time, nor was I able the other day to find any contemporary "explanations" of Arafat's behavior that sound convincing today.

Perhaps even more importantly, the public attitude in this country does seem to have shifted from one of unquestioned support for Israel to attitudes of, "what have you done for us lately" and "can you please just knock off the killing, no matter what the price."

I dunno if I'd characterize it as a groundswell of anti-Semitism, but there does seem to be a certain anti-Israel feeling springing up and as most people are probably guilty of the same sloppy thinking processes as I use, I'd imagine that there's spillover from anti-Israelism to anti-Judaism.

Anyhow. I'm not shifting my position to one of whole-hearted support of Israel in the conflict, but I am giving the Palestinian authority some dubious looks and wondering just how sincere they are on the subject of "peace" that they haven't taken steps about Arafat before now.

I'm also considering what a dinky, inconsequential little bit of land these people are fighting over. It's a pity they're all so superstitious*. If they weren't we could give one group New Mexico or North Dakota and solve all of the problems. Or Utah. There's a lot of territory there the Mormons aren't using and while it's not the most hospitable land in the world it's amazingly beautiful.

* As I understand it, the mythology goes something like this:

This guy is married and he and his wife don't have any kids and he has an eye for another woman so he pretends like he's gonna just, you know, die if he can't pass on his genes, so he shacks up with this second woman and she gets pregnant and whether it's really his or not, no one knows but the odds are against it because he was married for about a hundred years to the first chick and no business resulted, and then it turns out that his wife has, it's not historical but I strongly suspect it, found herself a piece on the side too and she comes up pregnant and announces to the guy that it's his and he, being tired of his new gal pal or suspecting she was doin' someone else while he was off communing with god and nature or whatever it was men did back then when they were evading their responsibilities, decides to boogie on back to his wife and announces that the discarded gal pal and her offspring ain't got nuttin to do with him, nossir, no way, get outta here and now a few thousand or whatever years later, there are people strutting around giving themselves airs and being all martyred that either, (a) some tramp stole my daddy from my mommy for a while and all those kids of her kid are, you know, like illegitimate spawn and we're the righteous, chosen, cool ones and don't no one even think of pointing fingers at that anthropomorphized deity we're blaming for engineering all of this cause it's was part of the Master Plan, you see; or (b) daddy threw my momma out in the snow, okay, the sand, but it was hot, and so them other kids are going to pay for it, yeah, even unto the five-millionth freaking generation because there's nothing else to do here, man, there's not even cable and if those cats in Europe think the old white guys in charge are a pain they oughta come here and check out the complete repression of a teenager's natural desire to hang with his buddies and do some brawling with anyone not from our 'hood without, you know, actually having to leave home to do it except that they're telling us we're going to get all we want and then some in the afterlife so woo-hoo! and get me there while I'm still young enough to do it all night!

(And for this, they all hate each other except when, you know, they live in a country where religious intolerance isn't encouraged and people are more or less expected to get a grip on themselves and remember that opposing viewpoints are entitled to exist.)

That's kind of how it was explained to me.

(Some of it is sort of how it was explained to me, anyhow. The part about the guy indulging in a little extra-marital nookie and then ditching his girlfriend and her kid when wifey came up pregnant was, I'm pretty sure, very close to what someone said to me.)

I'm just saying. I'd never realized there was an actual "history" to the Jewish - Palestine conflict or that they had so much in common, both "races" being quite unlikely to have been the offspring of the hundred-and-fifty year-old and probably sterile guy whose name currently escapes me and I'm sure it wasn't Noah but it could have been Abraham or something but of course all of those old testament guys seemed to have been named Jonah or Abraham, so that's not much of a guess and in any case Jonah was the whale guy and what these people today ought to be doing is celebrating is that their respective mothers had the sense to get knocked up by (we hope) guys not quite as weasely as mister "I didn't wanna do it but god told me to have sex with that woman" but instead of celebrating, they're killing each other.

Actually, when I was being called "anti-Semitic" I was pretty clear where the responsibility for the Palestine - Israel conflict existed and nothing I read in this article changed my mind. But it did give me reason to stop and examine my own prejudices to figure out whether or not I have some, you know, extra bias against Jewish people because...well, because of whatever it is that non-Jewish people have against Jewish people these days.

And while I'm guilty of having forgotten some of the nuances of "peace negotiations" over the years, I'm happy to report that my disdain-occasionally-rising-to-mockery of Judaism isn't any more intense than my disdain of Episcopalians or Baptists or Muslims or Moonies. (Or Mormons, who, as I scan the world o'blog while I consider whether or not it's wise to post this, I see are still creating retroactive Mormons and pissing off the kind of people who take this stuff seriously.)

Read the article. Check the fastness of your own soul. Are you without this particular sin, or at least in the habit of strewing the thorns equally upon the path of each religion's chosen path to enlightenment?

(Go ahead, take a look. I'll wait.)

Because the bottom line is that, aside from the religious implications which I seem to be completely incapable of treating seriously, you just can't get past the fact that it was Palestinian land and the West grabbed it and said Palestinians weren't a real country (and, by inference, not "real people" with "real rights") and they didn't have any right to the land and then the West opened it up to Jewish settlement and that's the reason people are dying today.

I do find it hard, considering Western history, to dismiss Jewish longings for a country of their own although I do regret that they had their collective hearts set on a bit of land that belonged to someone else but the bottom line is that everywhere belongs to someone else and, short of doing something silly like buying the land they wanted, I don't see how they were going to actually get a country, do you?

I don't blame people for having "a dream" even if it's based on murky, historical superstition, but this particular dream seems to require a wholesale act of theft and I just can't support that.

Anyhow. Bottom line. I've examined my conscience for anti-Semitism and pronounce myself clean of the taint.

With that comfortable conviction in mind, I'll also say that I still approve of the Geneva Accord and think it's the most likely path to "peace" for those two peoples. The Palestinians involved have accepted that the Israeli people are in the area to stay. The Israelis involved have accepted that at least some of the Palestinians' land needs to be given back to them. Neither of these groups is going to wind up in sole possession of the land so an equitable plan to share (remember, sometimes you can't make everyone happy and the best you can do is to insure that everyone's equally unhappy) the land is the only rational solution.

(Note: I'm going to mortally offend about fifty million people if I post this, aren't I? I've been sitting here with my finger hovering over the Post button for five minutes.)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:46 AM | Comments (7)
So, what's this all about?

Do ya suppose it's really a drill and they're dragging these people away from their families at the holidays to make the test more stressful for all concerned (not a bad strategy) or do they know something we don't know?

There is concern about Mexico and Canada, because of their contiguous airspace, and about France and a number of other countries,

What, precisely, is their worry about France in this context? Could they get over this childish grudge-holding or, again, do they have some kind of sekrit knowledge that France is a terrorist stronghold that they should be sharing with us?

And us anti-war types must, if we're honest, be feeling a little depressed right now. Yeah, Libya is giving up its nukes and the two decades of economic sanctions probably had a lot to do with it, but it took over twenty years, during which time the people of Libya have suffered. Is this a flaw in how "sanctions" are administered, is there a better, non-fatal way to achieve this end, and other questions occur to me. Also, now that Gadhafi is giving up his WMD, will he still be free to continue to terrorise Libyans?

And what about Argentina, current suffering the displeasure of the USofA for reasons I can see I'm going to need to research? Does anyone care what's happening to them?

No matter how much he whines, I'm having a lot of trouble feeling sympathy for Rush Limbaugh. It's not that I don't have pity on someone who got hooked on prescription drugs, because I do, but his insistence that he's being victimized because he's so famous (not) is just ignorant. Also, he seems to have learned nothing of tolerance from his escapade, and nothing of how circumstances can get on top of people and drive them to doing things they shouldn't, which is kind of sad.

Enough about him.

I'm brooding over another idea. I may come back and post about it later.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:33 AM | Comments (2)
December 22, 2003

I thought I'd posted this four hours ago. Guess it just goes to show how distracted I get when I have some actual work to do.

Anyhow, you've probably seen all of these already, but here's what caught my eyes today.

Maybe the problem is that, yeah, "all men are created equal" but we're not exactly defining "men" correctly. (Okay, it's a bit of a Grinchy link, but very interesting.)

I don't think Riverbend is "anti-American." I think she's just very, very honest about the world she's living in.

Sunnis and Shi'a have always lived in harmony in Iraq and we still do, so far. I'm from a family that is about half Shi'a and half Sunni. We have never had problems as the majority of civilized people don't discriminate between the two. The thing that seems to be triggering a lot of antagonism on all sides is the counterinsurgency militia being cultivated by the CPA and GC which will include Chalabi's thugs, SCIRI extremists and some Kurdish Bayshmarga.

I'm very pleased to see Jonathan Dresner joining Cliopatria and I hope he doesn't stick strictly to political topics. I'd like to read his thoughts on F/SF since he seems to share my taste in authors.

Hey, I think I was the one who first called the current majority party's Congressional tactics "scorched earth" but I don't object to others using the concept. (Okay, no, I wasn't the first. I just wanted you to read the article.)

Matthew points to this as proof that conservatism has jumped the shark. Me, I just think the author needs an infusion of some of that "compassion" we hear so much about.

(You don't need to read the article if you're squeamish about these things. Basically it just says that some people don't make the best life choices and that you shouldn't help them because it might get to be a habit. And that if you loan a destitute person $5, you're entitled to hold a grudge forever if they can't afford to pay it back and maybe even to write publicly about how right it is to condemn succeeding generations to equal or greater poverty and Ebenezer Scrooge was so totally right and where in the heck is my five bucks, you homeless deadbeat.)

I read the Slate piece about Veep Cheney and empire/imperialism but couldn't think of much to say about it. TomDispatch doesn't have the same problem.

Are we supposed to be worried about global warming or global dimming? I dunno, but I can tell you I'm glad to hear that it's not that my eyes aren't what they were when I was 20, it's that things really are harder to see.

Checking out Wampum I see that my, "give them the benefit of the doubt and don't get all conspiracy-minded" attitude toward preliminary reports that Hussein was actually a prisoner held for the moment when we were going to pounce on him and declare WE GOT HIM! was overly optimistic in terms of accepting the kinds of machinations in which this Administration is willing to indulge. Or, you know. Not.

But until someone answers that question about the instantaneous DNA testing, I'm staying skeptical.

Tonight when I get home, I'm popping White Christmas in the VCR and escaping to a different post-war world. After that, I'm watching The Muppet Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life. If anything can restore my faith in the magic of the holiday season, those three movies should be able to do it.

I just found out that we're closing early on Wednesday and we're closed on Friday. Now that's a worthwhile gift!

Take me away, Bing....

Posted by AnneZook at 03:23 PM | Comments (2)

If the day is going to be like this, I'm going home, going back to bed, and putting my head under the blankets.

Nothing major. Just the accumulation of little annoyances and problems that can drive you nuts. Moved to a new office (courtesy of the new position) and when I came in this morning, I couldn't find a network connection for my laptop so that I could check the number and password for the 8:00 conference call. When I finally did get logged in (on a different computer), I found an e-mail from my (new) boss requesting that I, as soon as possible, call an account number I didn't have to someone whose phone number I couldn't access because it was on my laptop's network account.

Also, I'm mad at the Homeland Security goons people. I mean, if they need to raise the threat level, then okay. Whatever. Did they have to pre-empt the last 15 minutes of the ISU Grand Prix men's finals? We've been watching that stupid competition for six weeks and we missed half the final performances. They said nothing that couldn't have been handled in a crawl across the bottom of the screen.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little unreasonable on that one, but what was with the crawl across the bottom of the "terrorist threat" briefing saying that Al Gore had been arrested for marijuana possession? I didn't see it myself, because I was dinking around with my new Game Boy*, but my roommate commented on it at the time. How cheesy is it that the crawl made it sound like it was, you know, AL Gore, instead of his son? A cheap stunt.

I found out this weekend that a dear friend diedi n a house fire a few days ago. Any supporting thoughts you can send the way of her surviving family would be appreciated.

Stuff like that.

Somehow, in my memory, holidays used to be a time of unfettered joy. No longer. I'm more in more in sympathy with the concept of the holidays as emotional bulimia

Except, well. I do love a day when those who profess to love me are obligated to buy me presents and I don't have to acknowledge that I'm getting older in order to scoop in the loot.

I'd heard something about "medals" and the two wars, the one in Afghanistan and the one in Iraq, but I didn't understand what all the fuss was about until I read this.

And did I already link to the story about the House of Representatives deciding it's un-American to criticize the "war on drugs" or am I, you know, on drugs and hallucinating that I already wrote about it?

A little-known provision buried within the omnibus federal spending bill that the U.S. House of Representatives approved yesterday would take away federal grants from local and state transportation authorities that allow citizens to run advertising on buses, trains, or subways in support of reforming our nationís drug laws. If enacted, the provision could effectively silence community groups around the country that are using advertising to educate Americans about medical marijuana and other drug policy reforms.

That whole "Freedom of Speech" thing was overrated anyhow.

And Hussain Haqqani over at IHT puts it well. Pay attention to what's inside the heads of Muslim women, not the presence, or absence, of scarves on their heads.

You know the country's median population age is moving up the scale when there's a scandal in California around overcharging for support hose.

And as I read this article it occurred to me that part of the problem with the political situation in this country is that the media has conditioned us to have "trivial minds" about public figures. We remember the irrelevant and the unimportant (those absurd media stories about Gore's shocking choice of a brown suit!) and not the important things (how strongly did Gore agree, or disagree, with Clinton's desire to go after al Qaeda in December, 2000?)

Did you ever notice that when you bring up The Note, the same paragraph always loads first, then disappears when the new entry is loaded?

W A S H I N G T O N April 17ó Moving with the lightning speed that accounts for their continuing ability to draw new, younger readers to their publications, six days after the Frist-Nickles-Grassley-Snowe-Voinovich secret tax deal, three of America's great newspapers finally get around today to actually trying to explain it.

I've never seen that on any other site. I wonder why they do that?

And there's so little going on in the world today that over at The Hill, they're congratulating a Senator on not being an idiot.


Over in Maryland, it looks like they don't care if electronic voting machines are reliable and honest or not. If anyone reading this lives in Maryland, I'd suggest this might be the moment to take a little action.

( * Yes, I bought myself a new Game Boy. Less than a week before Christmas. I knew you weren't going to get it for me, mostly just because you didn't know I wanted it, so I went ahead and bought it for myself. It's 'way cool and I'm not a bit sorry I spent the money. It's all about Presents For Me, you know. I'm not the only one who considers themself a critical gift recipient but after reading this article, I'm ashamed of being part of the trend.)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)