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January 09, 2004
My, my, my

Having read this, I'm all of a sudden much more interested and much more enthusiastic about a Democratic nomination of Dean. (Via Mustang Bobby.)

I still like Kerry, though, and I think he's a better candidate than the indifferent media, more interested in Dean's "anger" lets us see.

Once again, a gaping chasm between the Bush Administration rhetoric and their actions. They're pro-business except that they're not pro small business.

And now I find myself wondering if funding school vouchers was what Bush had in mind when he sort of promised to put money in education and fund the No Child Left Behind Act next year.

Matthew Yglesias explains why the Bush Adminstration announced this new space initiative. It seems that Rove did it specifically to piss Matt off.

Heh. Forget funding life on the moon. How about funding live on earth?

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a statement of Robert Greenstein, executive director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, regarding the White House moon/Mars initiative:

"The moon/Mars initiative will cost many hundreds of billions of dollars, possibly as much as $1 trillion. The President should indicate where the money will come from.

(Don't let the name fool you. The CBPP is a private organization, and a rather lefty one, not some kind of government department, but it's a nicely snarky press release anyhow.)

Over at Grist Magazine, they're discussing the Bush Administration's Holiday Treats for Pollutocrats.

If Kevin Drum thinks those of us on a diet are going to be consoled by his consumption of diet soda to wash down a gorgeous-sounding avocado-bacon-burger, he's sadly mistaken, but I'm offering sympathy anyhow and I hope his back problems are nothing serious.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)
You should be reading

At Cliopatria, Timothy Burke on analogies

I haven't read the whole Evidence and Implications report on the missing Iraq WMD and I don't know if I will. But I'll pretend I did, because it's the kind of thing we should be reading.

The fuss about those home-grown terrorists continues to grow.

And the Greens need to accept, the same as the Republicans do, that this election is going to be about the economy. With jobs evaporating faster than a mud puddle on an August day, the environment is important, but not urgent to most of us.

(Is Hussein sick or possibly dying?)

(By the way, I'm not commenting on the Bush Administration proposal to start sending people to outer space again, and even establishing a colony on the moon. It's a cheesy ploy to distract some of us from the issues at hand. Why wouldn't they promise it if they thought people would like them for the idea? It's not like they have to spend any money on it. And let's be honest. Unless they find oil on Mars, this Administration isn't putting any serious money into such a project. It's a cheap stunt from an Administration claiming we can't afford healthcare for 80 year-old grandmothers or two month-old babies, or unemployment insurance, or a livable minimum wage, or the cost of funding education, okay? Anyhow, as TomPaine points out, Daddy made the same promise and it went nowhere.)

(Okay, I commented. Sue me.)

Oh, the places I go....

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Posted by AnneZook at 10:35 AM | Comments (2)
Sadly, the Bush Administration

I dunno why Dick Meyer is so bitter about the No Child Left Behind Act. Bush got it through Congress in 2003 and he's almost promised to actually, you know, fund it in 2005.

I read an article yesterday, can't remember where, (no, wait, here it is) about an interview with Colin Powell where he admitted that there was no policy decision he could conceive of that would drive him to resign in protest. I guess there's something to be said for loyalty. Anyhow, the article went on to say that signs that Powell is contemplating retirement are starting to appear. Taking a look at the job that faces him this year, I can't say I blame him. Loyalty or no loyalty, he has to be feeling the strain of what he's said and done for this Administration.

We're holding 13,000 prisoners in Iraq without formally charging them? That seems a bit extreme.

The U.S. will attempt to ease such anger this week as it begins releasing 506 detainees, including 28 juveniles....

Well, aren't we special?

By the way, for anyone who cares, we're still at war in Afghanistan, too.

Snarking aside, this Peter Canellos column suggests a dramatic change in the Bush Administration's foreign policy is taking place...and for the better. It's worth considering.

I haven't discussed it here because it's something I'm always thinking about on my daily commute and I never get the thoughts written down, but it's not that hard to take a look at what the Bush Administration has done (well, aside from embarrassingly cheesy photo-ops and wishful-thinking interpretations of intelligence and obscene fund-raising while pretending to be too busy to think about campaigning, which isn't, in and of itself, a bad tactic since the record shows that whenever Bush actually spoke to an audience during the last campaign, his approval rating went down) and find a rationale for it.

There is a case to be made for ending the endless frustration of decades of sanctions and talks that go nowhere while the situation doesn't improve. There is a case to be made for letting war-minded countries of the world know that their freedom to slaughter their own people, or their neighbors, has a limit. There is a case to be made for zero-tolerance of repressive dictatorships, genocide, and other human rights abuses. And there is a case to be made for standing up, at least once, and taking some psychopath out of power, even if it's just as a warning to other psychopaths in the world.

I'm just saying, I'm not sure I believe it, because Dubya's history isn't one of compassionate empathy for the downtrodden, but I can look at what's happened and make a case to myself for their view of things.

Okay, they did it the wrong way at the wrong time, but I'm not defending their good sense.

Bush's cousin thinks the 'war on terror' will be the Number One Issue in the upcoming election.

On NPR this morning, they said that economists had been predicting up to 100,000 new jobs being created in December. The actual number? 1,000. At this time, they're estimating there are about 1.5 million people who have dropped off the unemployment statistics because they gave up looking for work, meaning that the supposedly declining unemployment numbers are screening the truth about the ever-growing number of homeless and/or jobless panhandlers dotting the streets of our cities. Productivity is up, hooray for management, but employment isn't, meaning that the remaining workers are living in daily fear of losing their jobs and they're taking on extra work for no extra money.

The new provisions, well, at least the ones that save the government money, the ones related to "new" benefits don't kick in for a year or two, of the Medicare 'reform' are kicking in and across the nation, nursing homes are kicking out the frail, the ill, and the elderly who have exceeded the 20-day cap on critical care.

The Levi corporation has closed it's last two USofA-based sewing plants. The jobs are moving overseas. Sikorsky, USofA DoD contractor is considering moving production of the Black Hawk helicopter overseas. The state of Georgia is already bracing for the projected loss of another 1,300 jobs to overseas labor markets this year. IBM is rumored to be about to move 4,700 jobs overseas. Predictions are that by the end of 2004, "1 in 10 jobs within U.S.-based IT vendors and service providers will have moved overseas"

I'm thinking George's cousin should get his head out of that bucket and take a look at the real world, okay? This next election cycle is going to be about jobs and the economy.

Krugman:

Two years after Enron, then one of America's most admired companies, was revealed as a fraud, prosecutors finally seem to be getting somewhere. Andrew Fastow, the company's former chief financial officer, and his wife, Lea, are reported to be engaged in plea-bargaining. Mr. Fastow's testimony will probably lead to charges against other former Enron executives.

He goes on to say that the system still doesn't work and that catching Enron was a fluke, and that's true. It's on the excessive greed of the company headed by the man who, I believe I'm right about this, was the #1 personal contributor to Bush's presidential campaign and certainly a long-time personal friend that took the company over the edge. (I can't help it. I keep wondering if the Enron guys watched the whole Harken money-juggling act and applied what they'd learned to Enron? I mean, I don't know, and certainly they didn't have the good sense Bush Harken execs showed by getting out before the dominoes fell, but I do wonder.)

But not to worry. Bush won't suffer. I hear that the names of the new executives put in charge of what's left of Enron, I hear that those names are already showing up prominently on Bush's "donations received" campaign list.

I hadn't seen this before. Susan Douglas is running a contest to create some nicknames for Bush Administration activities. Bush should like that, right? He's Mr. Nickname, after all.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)
January 08, 2004
Blogging Around

Sometimes I wonder if there's anyone in Washington with the sense to read things like Baghdad Burning, but I doubt it.

I wonder what the hell is going on in Iraq and if anyone is in control of the troops. I mean, I do understand that it's necessary to demonize the "enemy" in order to get sane human beings to go out and kill people who are not trying to do them harm, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

(And I wonder why Iraqis always find it necessary to celebrate joy, or to commemorate grief, by firing guns, but that's the difference between a society based on violence and one that isn't I guess. It's a cultural gulf I probably won't be able to cross. For the record, I also wonder about Key West's irrational attachment to chickens and, as far as that goes, I don't always understand people, either, so maybe it's me.)

Molly Ivins finally has a new column out. And another, in fact, where she helps explode the myth that there's a Concrete Fairy out there somewhere building free roads for Texans to drive too fast on.

We fingerprint them, they fingerprint us, it's all an exercise in spite and futility. Which dipshit in the Bush Administration thought a register existed somewhere with neat documentation for the fingerprints, photos, and names of terrorists? And that fingerprinting tourists was a good way to frighten someone with a bomb under his jacket and a determination to die in the next few days in his heart?

Embarrassingly stupid, that's us.

Anyhow, I object to the whole fingerprinting thing, although I haven't discussed it before. I object to the idea of a government, any government, compiling a list of names, photos, and fingerprints of law-abiding citizens. I objected when they started collecting fingerprints for driver's license renewals and my objection to the policy remains strong even though my need for a license outweighed my inclination to make a public scene.

On the other hand (via Cliopatria) there's no doubt to sensible people that refusing to let people queue up for the bathroom is going to make trouble.

There are probably people who think it's wrong to mock religion, but how can I resist with this kind of material available?

Paying for access to the famous and powerful isn't new. Heck, I was listening to NPR that other day and they were discussing DeLay's long-time advocacy on behalf of foster children.

One of the things revealed in the report was that the charity he's founded (to create a "permanent foster family" subdivision/town sort of place in Texas) well, DeLay needs a lot of money to make this project happen so the charity is holding a fundraiser at the same time as the Republican national convention and...wait for it....there's a brochure detailing how much time you get with the President or Republican leaders for how much of a donation to this supposedly private charity.

Yeah, that's right. DeLay is selling access to the government for donations to his personal pet project.

Complaints have been filed and apparently the "non-political" status of this charity is being investigated.

When asked about it, Mr. DeLay said some people would jump on anything to make him look bad.

Back to blogs, I find Hal pointing out that the government is trying to keep a low profile on the story of the WMD disposal specialists who have quietly been removed from Iraq because we couldn't afford to keep them sitting there, eating their heads off, and playing poker for much longer and with the complete absence of any WMD in the country there really wasn't anything for them to actually do.

Unusually enough, Andrew Olmsted got on my nerves with his post on Kyoto. I agree that the protocol is flawed, but it's a long way from being "utterly worthless" in spite of the USofA's resistance to a mandate for lowering pollution, cleaning up the air, and trying to insure that the planet's water keeps being drinkable.

Nor do I find it valid to cite that recent "extinction" study to try and invalidate Kyoto.

The scientists who ran the study insisted it was very preliminary and not conclusive. Their very preliminary estimate indicated that from (IIRC) 10-40 percent of current species might be in danger of extinction. They insisted that the numbers were soft and the study wasn't meant to be the final word and they asked that the press release not cite alarmist and unsupportable numbers but they were overruled.

Anyhow, Andrew, it wasn't pseudoscience, and there was nothing wrong with the study, although to be honest I can see how you might not have known that. Don't blame the scientists. Blame the PR department.

(Nor do I feel that that UsofA's economy stands in danger of being damaged by implementation of Kyoto to the extent it's been pummeled by the Bush Administration, but that's a different rant. I'll just say that our economy would make the adjustment, just as the European economies are making the adjustment.)

William Sjostrom is upset because he doesn't understand the issues, but I didn't even understand the questions. Is there really such a thing as Unitarianism or is that a misspelling of Utilitarianism and are there really a lot of different kinds of Judaism? (No, don't bother to tell me. I don't really care.)

Heh. I agree with Daniel Drezner that it's not impressive to have a story on-line run to a whole WOW! five pages! But I know why the papers are doing it. It's ad space. The more pages you look at, the more ads they can run against one story and the more money they make, as his comments section points out.

I'm giving serious thought to removing everyone who refers to Dean as "The Mouth" or indulges in any similar name-calling from my blogroll. I am just so over that behavior. I mean, I understand it. There was a time I could barely type Bush's name without giving myself an aneurysm, but I'm just so over that kind of childishness that I find myself sighing and clicking out of any post where I see pointless name-calling.

Whoops! I take it back. The Nooner is back and drooling on herself in public again!

Over at the OpJour, she's letting us know that her idea of the kind of serious issue the Republican party needs to rally round and fight for is a flag-burning amendment.

Has anyone told her that we're at war and the world doesn't love us any more and the Supreme Court is smacking her hero and his Administration around for being unconstitutionally inclined and that unemployment is rising in part due to jobs being sent permanently out of the county and that about 10,000 seniors and their families have discovered in the last 30 days that Bush's much-lauded Medicare "prescription drug benefit" is being paid for in part by cutting the time an 80 year-old is given for recovering from a paralyzing stroke to 20 days and that the Bush Administration's attempts to slash veterans' benefits is making them rather unpopular with the armed forces, and that the rest of the Republican party is becoming disenchanted with the skyrocketing government expenditure?

I'm just saying. I'm pretty sure that if she was as smart as she thinks she is, she could find a slightly more important issue that might get the Republicans all fired up and ready to fight in '04.

No, I didn't bookmark the access to her columns because I won't be reading her words regularly. I don't find that her hiatus has improved her writing style, which is still mean-spirited and petty-minded and just not very good.

Howard Dean's rise is about two things. The first is the war. Most of the other serious Democratic candidates were reasonable about it, if you will.

You might ask what the "if you will" clause does in that sentence. I assure you, it does nothing. Gibberish.

(I've never understood how she gets published. Is she another Coulter? You know, micro-miniskirts and lots of cleavage to give the old guys a cheap thrill?)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:58 PM | Comments (3)
Left, Right, or Wingnut?

Okay, I was trying to get away with a superficial response to the cited post but I guess I should explain my thinking or people (well Curtiss anyhow) will think I've lost my mind.

First, when I go to someone else's site, I, I guess "allow them" is the phrase I need, I generally allow them to provide their own definition of terms. (Well, there's no point in reading and trying to understand both sides of the spectrum if you're going to let your thoughts get side-tracked because one guy's "blue" is your "turquoise" is there? You have to accept his "blue" while you're reading his words if you want to have any hope of understanding his point of view.)

If I want to understand opinions from across the spectrum, I can't go into sites with my guard up.

I expect to disagree with someone like Totten. And, yes, when I found him calling turquoise "robin's egg blue" it gave me more than a second of cognitive dissonance, but I got past it. As I said in my own post, it depends on how far you go back in defining your terms and, for the sake of that post, I accepted that he'd go only as far back as would support his own position.

(I mean, let's be fair. Yes, if you go back to the Enlightenment, most of us are "liberals" by those terms, but is that useful in defining political debate today? Not really, so neither he nor you were adding anything, IMO, useful to the debate by bringing the fact up.)

If you go back a hundred years, were "liberals" and "conservatives" interested then in what they're interested in today? Were the bloc voters for each party the same as they are today?

No, of course not. Political alliances shift as the issues shift.

And the leadership shifts as needs drive them. Bush's occasional mouthing of traditional, Republican "states' rights" or "small government" babble is in direct opposition to the actual behavior of his Administration. Is that because he's a lying swine or because political reality drives our government, even in defiance of individual policy positions and beliefs?

I don't spend as much time debating nuances of political thought over the last three or four hundred years. (It's not that I don't want to. I have an absolute passion for the subject, but time simply doesn't permit.) It's not that useful in trying to define what's "Left" or "Liberal" or "Right" or "Conservative" today. As has been pointed out frequently, a "Democrat" today is a far cry from what was a "Democrat" forty years ago.

Anyhow, back to the subject at hand. Did I agree with Totten's definitions? Of course not. I disagreed with almost every word he wrote, and most especially his belief that "leftists" are all terrorist-supporting, USofA-hating extremists. Still, but those on the Right don't have a monopoly on tarring a wide swath of their opponents with simplistic slanders, so if I allow some on the Left the privilege of oversimplification and name-calling, I have to allow it on the Right.

Do I think Totten's thoughts are worth reading? I do.

My point is less about how he defines his terms than it is about how the Right sees the Left these days. In spite of condescension, broad smears, and an indefinable air of "these are the lunatics" I thought his post was valuable as a window on how someone on the Right at least tries to define and understand the different forces working on the Left these days.

That he doesn't understand the Left didn't surprise me but political discourse is about...well, it's about talking to each other and if we only talk to people who agree with us, can we pretend to think we're making any progress?

There were kernels of truth in what Totten said, as there are in most opinions. There is a portion of the Left that's still communistic or socialist. There are those on the fringes of the Left who view much of what our country does as evil.

Heck, there are those in the center who suspect the same thing sometimes. Also on the Extreme Right. Those two areas were outside the scope of his discussion and I accept that.

That he has an exalted view of the Right also didn't surprise me. Very few people, especially those with a heavy emotional investment in their own world-view (which most of us possess and Totten certainly demonstrates) are capable of objective critique of said world-view. (The very fact that he'd reference Ann Coulter in any context outside that of her being a lying, scandal-mongering embarrassment to rational Republicans tells you just how invested he is.)

Anyhow. I don't support his opinions, but I stand by what I said. He does make sense, if you accept his definitions.

He postulates that the "centrist" Liberals are okay and the "extremist" Leftists are dangerous. Heck, I think Republicans are okay, but I'm quite frankly scared of the wingnuts, so I'm not surprised that there are those on the Right who feel the same way about the Left, okay?

Admittedly you can't define either side of the political spectrum these days in terms of two belief systems. "Liberals" and "Leftists" are simply too broad to encompass the different ranges of thought held by significant groups on the Left. It's like the assumption that there are Republicans and Fascists on the Right, and not much in between. It's childishly simplistic and dangerous. (Totten's arguments leave no room, for example, for the existence of tree-hugging, environmentalist Republicans and believe me, they do exist.)

I'm thinking it might be time for us to redefine what "Republican" and "Democrat" mean in our society. Totten's remarks, while inflammatory, are at least at attempt to distinguish between some of the different political forces that currently exist.

If nothing else, I appreciated his attempt to try and find a way to talk about his differences with the Left without automatically identifying "Liberals" with the more extreme beliefs of those he identifies as "Leftist."

Jesse at Pandagon's response to Totten is much the same as what I've said above. Simply put, Jesse argues that Totten's definitions are too broad. Again, I say that I'm not surprised. The nuances of thought among those on the Left matter to no one as much as they do to those on the Left. The difference between me and Elayne is probably almost indistinguishable to anyone but the two of us. If you pull the telescope back, she and I are in the same "group" but there's still a noticeable difference between us and, say, Michael Moore. If you pull back far enough, everyone on the Left is in the same group. Totten was, as I said originally, tarring with a wide brush.

Sawicky's post was much more interesting since he begins by pointing out that it's a mistake to confuse the strength of someone's rhetoric with their extremity of their beliefs.

On the other hand, I don't actually agree with his definition of "Liberals" so that's something I have to stop and get past before I read more than the first two paragraphs of his post. His perception that Liberals "shy away from market regulation" is a bit astonishing to me. I remember when any hint of preferring "deregulation" branded you as a pretty conservative Republican in this country. So, you see, it depends on how far back I go in defining my terms whether or not I can agree with him and probably places me pretty firmly in the "Leftist" camp in his world.

His condemnation of the Clinton Administration lost me. When discussing what the Clinton Administration did, or didn't do, can we please remember the make-up of Congress during those eight years? It's no more reasonable to pretend that everything that happened was Clinton's idea and Clinton's "policies" in action than it is to pretend that the Bush currently in office was happy with the idea of a drastic increase in federal spending to support a huge new federal agency. (Yes, the Bush Administration pushed though the ghastly appointment of Ashcroft, but only after they'd been fought to a standstill over their violent objection to creating the 'Homeland Security' agency at all.)

Sawicky also drastically underestimates the value of education in creating quality of opportunity, but that's a different rant.

Note to Curtiss:

I think the distinction between liberal and left comes down to whether one believes Enlightenment is a completed or on-going project; that is, whether we already possess adequate notions of individual rights, responsibilities, and freedoms—what it means to have political agency, if you'll permit me that piece of jargon—or if what notions we have are still amenable to critique and improvement. As someone who identifies himself as a leftist, I think the latter is the case, and I think the biggest obstacle to the advance of this project is a misunderstanding of the way in which our social and material worlds are sustained, so our economic and political systems—capitalism and representative democracy—must be the subject of scrutiny and critique. Unfortunately, holding such a view usually provokes one of two responses from people: one is judged to be either a fuzzy thinking 'idealist' or a supporter of oppressive regimes. That the substance of political agency poses an open problem never occurs to these people. They have all the answers, and know what's best. And if that's not frightening, I don't know what is.

If you decide to write at length on this, please let me know. (Not that I won't be watching, because I will.) I'd like to read your thoughts.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:11 AM | Comments (5)
January 07, 2004
Boggles the mind

From the OpinionJournal today:

Extra
BY JULIA GORIN
The Democratic field: a Jew, a half-Jew, a quarter-Jew and an almost-Jew. Is that good for the Jews?

Not only do I object to classifying candidates based on the degree they do, or don't possess a certain religious/racial affiliation, as though that had anything at all to do with their qualifications for office, I find the very act of defining the extent of "Jewishness" of each person gives the entire column a vaguely racist air.

The race is on. Not for the presidency, but for the Jewish presidency, and the Jewish vote.

It's like the OpJour is, if not endorsing anti-Semitism, at least tacitly alerting their anti-Semitic readers that voting for a Democrat is voting Jewish.

That's really obnoxious, okay?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:59 PM | Comments (3)
Blogging In Search Of a Theme

I'm looking around the world o'blog and it occurs to me that practically everyone except me has a sort of "theme" going. I mean, they blog about politics and / philosophy / cats / history / publishing / whatever. Everyone's an expert on something or has a primary interest to which they've added a taste for pontificating on politics.

I need a theme. Something I can talk about when, like the other day, or right at this moment, I'm just sick to death of the news headlines. (At the moment I feel a passing urge to be entertaining, but I can't juggle, you see.)

It's not like I don't have other interests, you know, because I do. Victorian-era literature, for instance. "Golden age" science fiction, fantasy, and mystery novels.

(All of this talk of reading reminds me that I have two more book reviews to transcribe and post. Among my "interests" you could not list transcribing things. This is a good thing for you because I'm too lazy to transcribe the majority of what I write, so I always edit vigorously. The Vanishing Voter review was four times as long as what I wound up posting, but by the time I removed all of the bits where I was rude about someone or something, there wasn't much left.)

(In retrospect, I rather regret that. The bits I removed were more entertaining than what I left in.)

I used to read a lot of science fiction. I sort of gave up on it when all of the "amazing technology" started becoming part of everyday life in the USofA.

"Slidewalks" sounded a lot more interesting before you realized that they'd be invented because we needed a way to double our walking pace in airports.

A world-wide computer network sounded really cool until you remember that very few people have anything to actually say.

I recently got Final Fantasy Tactics and Sword of Mana for my GameBoy. I'm going through Tactics for the second time right now, which entertains me but is not really something I can blog about.

Television? I watch Frasier, Navy NCIS (For David McCallum. I fell in love with him when he was on Man From U.N.C.L.E. and I was about eight and it never wore off), and West Wing (which isn't very good this year) and that's pretty much all I watch. I have nothing interesting or original to say about any of them.

/theme

In case you haven't realized it yet, I'm not likely to discuss anything of importance today. Feel free to leave at any moment. I won't be offended.

Anyhow. For the record, I don't like pizza. It's probably un-American, but there you go. It's odd because I like all of the things that go into pizza. I just don't like pizza. I didn't like it yesterday when I had to eat it for lunch during a "working meeting" and I didn't like it leftover today when I ran out of time to go out and buy something decent for lunch.

The problem with this diet is that you actually start preferring healthier food after two or three months. That's sad, I think. I have two different kinds of chocolate in my desk and the office kitchen is full of chips and salted nuts and other goodies, and I'm sitting here craving a stupid apple.

Other than that, I'm contemplating a flight I'm booking to California and trying to decide if I want to pamper myself, save a couple of hours, and pay an extra hundred bucks to use a smaller airport and avoid the hassles of LAX or if I want to be fiscally prudent.

Fiscal prudence almost never wins out in my world, so I'm not sure why I'm putting myself through the trouble of pretending to consider the alternatives. It's like I think there are some kind of invisible virtue points I'll be awarded for at least thinking about doing the right thing. It's some kind of curse I inherited from my mother or something.

If I find myself picking the broken cookies out of the bag, I'm going to have myself committed.

I'm amazingly bored today. I could do some work or even do some real blogging, but neither of those really appeal to me at the moment.

On the other hand, in a meeting yesterday, Buehler unexpectedly referred to the wealth of "political blogs" online these days and I almost had a heart attack as I wondered if, contrary to my expectations, this company is using some kind of spyware or something. Nothing like a guilty conscience.

I think I'll go do some work.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:29 PM | Comments (2)
Please hold

There will be a brief blogging pause while I fight with a piece of junk computer determined to accept only one keystroke every ten minutes, and then go to a meeting.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)
January 06, 2004
War and stuff

Apparently we promised to pay a lot of Iraq soldiers and then we didn't and that led to shooting. Another of those things I don't understand. What happened to the $87 billion?

Remember that Iraq, oil, Halliburton, alleged over-charging thing?

The U.S. Army said on Tuesday it had granted Halliburton a waiver to bring fuel into Iraq via a no-bid deal with a Kuwaiti supplier despite a draft Pentagon audit that found evidence of overcharging for fuel.

Yep. They've decided Halliburton doesn't have to provide "cost and pricing data" because there's no one else in the world they can get fuel from (in spite of news stories about the prices charged by other importers).

Peace talks between India and Pakistan are good. Let's hope peace comes to Kashmir, the squabbling ground for these two countries for many years. (Anyhow, countries with nukes and decades-long enmities worry me.)

Twelve people died in Afghanistan.

Also, the jury, it seems, is still out on the subject of just how good the new Afghan constitution is or isn't.

Speaking of war, I'm embarrassed to admit that I have a lot of trouble figuring out exactly why all of those local wars are taking place in Africa.

This story puts it very politely, that story we've all already heard about how the army is desperate to keep the enlisted troops in service. Those who were planning to retire or leave in the next few months will now have to remain with their unit. I'm not sure what that means. If someone's period of enlistment is over and they don't choose to re-enlist, can they be forced to stay in a war zone? Apparently so. They even have a name for it, a "stop loss order" so it seems to be something they've used before. Strikes me as a bit of a wrong way to deal with a volunteer army, but I ain't passing judgment on it. I don't know enough.

David Pratt has a point. Why isn't the So-Called Liberal Media making huge political hay out of the Bush Administration's fiasco over the capture of Hussein? (Well, that's because the SCLM is a myth, but we all know that.) I mean, the part where he was captured by Kurdish troops and we staged a cheesy Jessica-Lynch-style "operation" to dramatically "capture" him for the television cameras? Why doesn't anyone care when it's revealed that this Administration does stupid things like that? The news media just looks embarrassed and shuffles out of the room and when they come back, they've changed the subject.

I still think it's wrong to ban headscarves on Muslim women.

And, if anyone cares, here's a story about the investigation of those letter-bombs.

Hey, lookee here! I said (somewhere, maybe in the comments section, but I said it) that the DLC might be a bunch of Republican plants trying to undermine the Democratic Party from "inside" and now Harley Sorensen is saying it. Also, I was wondering who in the heck the DLC was and this column tells me.

The government's right to hold people in secret on the grounds that they're "terrorists" (in advance of formal charges, a trial, or even any evidence) is going before the Supreme Court and now we find out that the government wants to keep their excuses secret as well. All of their excuses. Apparently there's not a word they can say in their own defense that isn't Highly Classified Information and too dangerous for we the people to hear.

"The idea that there is nothing that could be filed publicly is really ridiculous," [Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director of The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press] said. "It just emphasizes our point that we're living in frightening times. People can be arrested, thrown in jail and have secret court proceedings, and we know absolutely nothing about it."

She's right. It's ridiculous.

Anyhow, elsewhere, we read that the Supreme Court might broaden their area of investigation on the topic of whether or not the Bush Administration is acting unconstitutionally in regard to "terrorism" detainees, and that's good news for those of us who like transparent government. Let's hope they decide to make a full investigation.

(I can't help it. I really am wondering today if they're regretting handing over the country to Bush/Cheney in 2000? If they're not just a little bit sorry for that bit of blatant idiocy?)

Economically, let's consider whether or not we're having the best recovery money can buy. And while we're at it, let's continue to puzzle over Bush announcing that he wants a "strong dollar" while we learn that a weak dollar, while it sucks if you're an individual, is a fabulous bonus for multinational corporations. (Why do I persist in trying to believe that this Administration means what it says?) Anyhow, even if us peepul might be headed for disaster, the corporations will have a nice time while they slide to the edge of the pit.

If you want, you can take a look at how the Bush Administration deals with science.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:24 AM | Comments (0)
January 05, 2004
Ponder This

I've never understood why the Democratic Party's national website has to use the .org designation but the Republicans get a .gov domain name. They're not, in fact, a part of the government, any more than the Green party or the National Socialist Party or the Democratic Party are, so who pulled strings to get them the .gov domain name?

And for what it's worth, we may not be sanguine about the chances for a stable democracy in Iraq in the near future, but there are some Iraqis relishing the new freedoms they have.

Why have I been waiting for a couple of weeks, and completely in vain, for some USofA media, any USofA media, to start covering the letter bombs being sent to EU politicians? Are we no longer interested in acts of terrorism? Whatever happened to that war on . . . oh, never mind.

Marriage, of course, is a sacred bond between a man and a woman, even if just for the next fifteen minutes.

And I'm thinking that the opening sentences of Mark Steyn's 2004 predictions are a mite peculiar.

Two years ago, in The Telegraph, I suggested that the massed ranks of naysayers predicting doom and gloom for America should make a New Year's resolution to stop doubting George W Bush's resolution. Alas, they failed to heed me, and as a result the traditional New Year predictions column is a mite trickier than it used to be.

What? It's our fault we predicted Bush was going to be a disaster and he turned out to be a disaster?

The next sentence makes more sense:

Never mind events that have not yet occurred: we now live in a world where there is no agreement on events that have already happened.

That's true. We know, sort of, what happened, but we don't agree on what it means.

He goes on from there to be really offensive, calling Hussein a "fellow celebrity" to Michael Jackson and Martha Stewart, foreseeing an inexplicable "landslide" re-election for Bush, and predicting a rapid slide into corruption for the EU.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure why I'm even mentioning the column and I certainly didn't find anything in there worth encouraging you to bother to go and read it. Much of it struck me as incoherent.

On the other hand, Judd Legum on taking our rights seriously is absolutely worth reading.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)
Hmph

Michael Totten is discussing his view of "liberals" versus "leftists" and, not surprisingly, makes a lot of sense.

Well, depending on how far back you go in deriving your definitions of "conservative" and "leftist." To be fair, he doesn't go back an unreasonable amount of time. I'm just warning those of you who are eighteen that there was life before your birth. Things happened that are relevant today and things you really need to understand.

(I don't know. Ever since my last birthday, I've been viewing those people who think things that happened before, say, 1985 as ancient, dead history with a certain amount of bitter disgust.)

He tars with rather a wide brush (Anyone who lumps "Greens" in with "Communists" is letting their bias show) but it's well worth reading.

What I'd like to see next is Totten dissecting the Conservative - Republican - Extremist Right divide in the same way, complete with examples of where he thinks today's prominent Republicans fall on the scale.

In other (non) news, it was so cold here today that the warm air exhausting from the office heating system was freezing up and snowing down on cars in the parking lot. It's not unusual, in Colorado, to be rained on when there's not a cloud in the sky but I think this is the first time I've been snowed on out of a clear, blue sky. 3 degrees is just too cold.

(P.S. But life would be tougher today if I were Avedon Carol, for whom I have much sympathy. Not only for the burglary, but for the tedious experience at the police department.)

Posted by AnneZook at 04:01 PM | Comments (2)
Happy New Year

I always think "ecological" solutions to problems are interesting, and this one about fighting malaria with guppies (they eat the hatching mosquito larvae) is no exception.

In the "Hmmm" department, Gwynne Dyer says things don't have to keep going wrong, even though the country's been hijacked but offers no way of preventing it. (Nor, quite frankly, do I think a couple of examples of how the past didn't have to be what it was is helpful. Hindsight is always 20/20.)

Many people are wondering how Afghanistan is going to look in a few years. Of course, just how "democratic" the new constitution is . . . well opinions vary.

On the other hand, people in Hong Kong know what they want. They want the vote.

Okay, so it's looking like al-Qaeda is still in business.

The invasion of Iraq 'war on terror' is costing us in more ways than one, something I wouldn't mind if I thought we were doing the right thing in the right place. (Like, you know, invading a country that was involved in terrorism or something.)

And how desperate is the government for cannon fodder soldiers if they've been recruiting in Canada?

For those who subscribe to the theory that the Bush Administration might as well be called the Cheney Administration, here's the latest article on how he's the power behind the scenes. It says . . . pretty much nothing at all and I found myself wondering who decided it was a good idea to waste space on it.

Is the hijab or Muslim head scarf actually Muslim? There seems to be a growing body of thought that it's more anti-Muslim.

I'm sure Dick Morris meant well, but Howard Dean doesn't actually represent "the Left" and any perception that voters are in charge of what's going on instead of political insiders is mistaken.

Hey, I know. Let's "control costs" for things like programs that help the poor so we can have more tax cuts for campaign contributors other people.

Rian Malan says AIDS isn't the epidemic it's made out to be, that the threat has been grossly exaggerated because the disease is so "political" and because the computer programs the modelers use are highly inaccurate. He does point out that in populations where testing is frequent and controlled, the infection rate is found to be much, much less than the newspaper headlines would suggest. It's not, he stresses, that AIDS isn't a problem that needs attention. It's that the hype is getting in the way of the truth. Worth reading.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)