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February 06, 2004
Rewriting history

For those wondering just exactly what the Bush re-election campaign's strategy to explain the mess in Iraq is going to be, consider this

THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL PART of President Bush's National Security Strategy, unveiled in September 2002, was its mention of preemptive action against "emerging threats before they are fully formed."

The part that boggles my mind is the idea that anyone is suggesting that Hussein was some kind of "emerging" threat instead of having been a 30-year thorn in the side of international relations and the subject of threats, resolutions, sanctions, and failed assassination attempts.

This has been described by foreign policy mandarins as a diplomatic earthquake that has overthrown decades, if not centuries, of devotion to the doctrines of containment and deterrence. Iraq was widely seen as the test case of this "radical," uniquely "neoconservative" approach.

"Centuries" of containment? If there's been any country using a policy of 'containment' for centuries, I'm unaware of it. I know the British historically tried to keep enemy navies off the seas, but is that "containment" or "quarantine" or a "blockade" - none of which seem to be the same thing in the author's definition? And does it count at all if they didn't simultaneously attempt a land containment/quarantine/blockade?

Or maybe I was boggled by this quote they use from, from Wesley Clark:

Nations and alliances should move early to deal with crises while they are still ambiguous and can be dealt with more easily, for delay raises both the costs and risks. Early action is the objective to which statesmen and military leaders should resort.

In principle, I agree with this. Stop the problem before it becomes a national or international crisis, but that wasn't Iraq, okay?

Iraq was long past the crisis state. It was an international stalemate.

There is no way you can pretend that last year was "early" or that the situation with regard to Iraq was "ambiguous." The world lined up around Iraq, time and again. Supporters, neutrals, detractors, officially-neutral-but-doing-business-on-the-side, morally-superior-but-needing-oil, secretly-supportive-but-publicly-neutral, you name it, there was a faction for it.

Boggles the mind to think someone might seriously argue that the Bush Administration was just implementing Clark's idea, doesn't it? But I'm honestly thinking they might try it.

Don't get me wrong, okay? That was just an idea that occurred to me as I started to read the article. I recommend that you read it yourself. It's really interesting.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:28 PM | Comments (2)
Did I miss something?

Did Lieberman's candidacy fail, not because he played the calm, moderate, centrist candidate in a year when the voters wanted passion and persuasion, but because he's Jewish?

Did anyone, beyond a few wingnuts, even think about that?

And is there a term (beyond 'hypocrite' I mean) for someone who wants to be judged 'on their merits' but who simultaneously expects support for 'what' they are instead of 'who' they are?

I mean, to put it plainly, if we're going to have a color-blind and religiously neutral approach to politics, is it really rational to speculate that Lieberman didn't do better in the race because Jewish people didn't vote along religious and ethnic lines?

(Note: None of this is opinions ascribed to Lieberman, okay? I'm wondering about the people who wrote the article I linked to and I'm seriously thinking of deleting this publication from my "occasional read" bookmarks because I'm offended by their hypocrisy.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:51 PM | Comments (2)
Look at it

How can anyone want to kill the program that gives us things like this to look at?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:00 PM | Comments (1)
For Girls Only

Just in case there wasn't already enough insanity for you to worry about, I was listening to NPR again last night and heard a story about an "abstinence only" sex education program in Texas.

The part that sticks in my mind is that the presenter of this one school "abstinence" session had a pretty extreme scare story to use to open her presentation.

It seems there was this girl who had pre-marital sex. She got chlamydia which, in some way the presenter, or at least the program's coverage of the presentation didn't bother to explain, caused her to get cancer and she wound up sterile.

I kid you not, the risk of getting cancer was one of the main points the presenter was using to convince girls not to have premarital sex. She also explained to the boys that they weren't at the same risk, but that they were capable of being 'carriers' and infecting everyone they came into contact with. That, in short, their penises could kill.

What the hell kind of message is this to send to kids already a little freaked by the changes in their bodies?

I'm dismayed that the presenter didn't bother to explain that the girl in the horror story clearly had no access to a trusted health care professional and that the absence of treatment for this relatively common and curable condition is what caused the horrific complications.

And by the fact that the presenter stressed that condoms don't eliminate any of the risks of sex...without pointing out that they can cut most risks by about 98%.

It was a fundamentally dishonest approach, even when I weigh the comparative youth of the audience against the material they were seeing.

Mind you, this was a presentation to, if I remember correctly, 12-13 year-old kids, and I think encouraging them to abstinence is a good idea because I don't care how mature they think they are, 12 year-olds really shouldn't be having sex, but I'm appalled that they're trying to terrify 12 year-old girls with the idea that having sex can give you cancer.

(I'm unaware of any scientific documentation on the subject of untreated chlamydia leading to the development of cancer, but let's let that pass. There's a lot of disagreement on exactly what "science" is these days and I'm grateful at least that the presenter wasn't using hellfire and damnation religious mania to try and scare the kids.)

I am also angered by the mindset in this society that thinks making people afraid of sex is not only okay, it's preferable to the alternative. (The alternative being that this society develop a healthier relationship to sex as a whole, making it actually possible for people like, let's say, parents to sit down and discuss sex and its complications, both emotional and physical, with their children openly and honestly. Children are lured by the forbidden. As long as Janet's boob flash is more shocking than blood streaming from the face of a hockey player on national television, children will be inured to the idea of violence and fascinated by the idea of sex.)

This is what I don't like about the conservative (small 'c') approach, okay? If something isn't working (the way sex education has been taught in schools for the past couple of decades, for instance), then they don't want to think of something new to try. They want to go back to what wasn't working before the current plan and that's just stupid.

People, including kids, have been having sex inside, outside, upside, and downside of marriage since three seconds after the comparatively recent moment when marriage was invented. Telling them not to hasn't worked for the last ten thousand years, so what makes anyone think telling them not to is suddenly going to start working today?


Posted by AnneZook at 12:30 PM | Comments (5)
Makes me mad

I know not everyone shares my enjoyment of Krugman's writing, but I still think you should all read today's column that reminds us that just last year the CIA was under fire for its shocking behavior in trying to downplay the imminent threat of Iraq's WMD.

It would be nice to see the rest of the major news media pointing this out in their multiple stories demanding to know who's at fault and speculating on the make-up of the investigating committee. Oddly enough, the major media outlets don't seem to have access to their own archives. (Anyone who believes "investigative reporters" are the right people to put in charge of investigating the Bush Administration's WMD claims needs to think about this.)

If you take a look at the record, there's no need for a committee. It's very clear which group was the one insisting that Hussein was about to drop an anthrax bomb on the rest of the world at 45 minutes' notice.

But, of course, partisanship is what makes politics. Without partisanship, how could we tell the good guys from them other people? For instance:

Like everything else in election season, the politics of national security have become badly polarized. When a federal judge in California last month struck down part of the Patriot Act, liberals cheered the decision and conservatives denounced it. When President Bush, in his State of the Union address, called for a renewal of the act a year ahead of schedule, Republicans applauded and Democrats sat on their hands.

In fact, there is something opportunistic about the Democratic denunciations of the Patriot Act: when it was introduced two years ago, only one Democratic senator, Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, voted against it, and many of its provisions were originally proposed during the Clinton administration after the Oklahoma City bombing.

Don't get me wrong. Rosen has a point. Democrats did vote for the 'Patriot Act' in overwhelming numbers.

I think we all know the country was stampeding through the gulch of stupidity for a few months, but there are a couple of other things that need to be considered. First, there are plenty of Republicans who, having taken a second, calmer look at the provisions of the Act, support repeal or rewrite for those provisions.

And second, there's the matter of how the provisions were implemented. There's been a level of enthusiasm around using the 'looser' regulations in the Act to go after 'regular' criminals that I don't think most people anticipated. In an era when, we're told, security has to be Priority One and, by the way, there's not much money to go around so everyone tighten your belts, it seems odd to me that the Justice Department has managed to fund plenty of investigations against USofA citizens for everything but acts of terrorism.

I'm just saying. Many provisions under the Act are, in fact, unconstitutional. They might not have been intended that way, but the fact that they were immediately put to that use proves that our system of checks and balances is as important, or more important, in times of heightened national emotion as at any other time.

Anyhow. Rosen does chide Bush a little, but since he then goes on to discuss that proposed, all-inclusive informational matrix with a bit too much enthusiasm, I'm viewing the rest of this column with suspicion. For one thing, that "about half" of the population he cites as approving of the Patriot Act...did anyone ask them if they know exactly what the Act says? No? Didn't think so.

And that whole 'matrix' thing?

Under the program, each passenger's name, address, home phone number and date of birth will be linked to two commercial databases, Lexis-Nexis and Axiom, which collect information about consumer habits. The data may not contain medical or bank-account information, but may include information about passengers' magazine subscriptions and buying patterns, where family members live, and how long they have owned a car. Based on the information, passengers will be assigned to green, yellow or red categories, and will be subject to corresponding scrutiny.

This is a marketing database, okay? It's the marketing database of a corporation's wet dreams, in fact.

I predict that if the Bush Administration had their way and managed to carve the entire government down to nothing but a standing army, the next thing would happen is that they'd raise the money to maintain this database by selling the information to giant multi-national corporations who would use it to fill your life with an ever-increasing avalanche of 'targeted advertising.'

Removed - Several paragraphs of cursing and ranting.

Aside from that, that information is just none of their business and has precious little to do with finding terrorists.

Many people don't own cars for reasons that have nothing to do with their personal plans to commit suicide before they finish making the payments. Very few criminals, terrorist or otherwise, inform their families that they're about to commit mass murder. Any correlation between shopping at Wal-Mart and a desire to kill a lot of people is going to be coincidental. To the best of my knowledge, none of the 9/11 hijackers had lifetime subscriptions to Suicide Bomb Your Way To Paradise.


Posted by AnneZook at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)
With Liberty and Justice For All

A suicide? bombing in Moscow.

I wonder when murdering innocent bystanders en masse became the preferred method of political dissent for so many people?

Maybe it was around the time so many governments started seeing any dissent as a criminal act against the state?

Thankfully, that couldn't happen here.

Nossiree. We got us a Constitution and under its protection, individuals have rights.

We have that "innocent until proven guilty" thing that the rest of the world doesn't.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)
1...2...3...4 Quick Ones

Hah. Here's one for the poor, delusional souls who think that, if he cares about nothing else, Bush cares about the whole Homeland Security thing. He wants to eliminate all funding for research on decontaminating buildings that have been contaminated by toxins.

Of course, the only two 'bio-attacks' we've had seem to have been from home-town folks, not international terrorists. And while some members of the Bush Administration are still claiming we're going to find the twenty tons of this and fifty tons of that they were so sure was in Iraq before they discovered that it, you know, wasn't, it seems that others have decided the stuff maybe didn't exist and consequently there's no point in developing techniques for dealing with it.

Anyhow. The whole budget is full of injustices and anyone who compares what Bush is willing to fund against the pious speeches he makes about how much he really cares about average people and then still votes for Bush is...well, let's just say that you should take a close look at that kind of person. Because not everyone who claims to believe in equality and equal opportunity really does.

And, speaking of equality, have you ever considered the question of sexism in drinking?

Iran may have come clean about nukes, but what is the world going to do about the rest of its military development? Can we do anything? Do we have any right to try?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)
February 05, 2004
Civilization and ethics

Just when you start thinking that bringing civilization to the world is an impossibility, you find out that it's actually a perfectly natural progression.

On the other hand, ethics and morals seem to be disappearing all around us. (No, no, it's okay. This one isn't about Dick Cheney.) It seems that no group is safe from the temptation to do wrong for personal gain.

Once again we're reading Bush - Kennedy comparisons, but this time the example is the Bay of Pigs. And Vietnam.

Which reminds me that last night on NPR I heard E. J. Dionne and David Brooks being interviewed about the upcoming election and David Brooks said that Vietnam was going to be an issue in this country as long as the current generation (which he described as, "middle-aged and paunchy") is around. I'd like to file a formal protest. I've been on a diet and I am not paunchy.

Furthermore, I think it's a disgrace that someone in Brooks' position pretends we can ignore the impact of Vietnam on this nation's psyche.

Did I link to this before? It's interesting and you should read it. SFGate is always interesting.

Haven't we been saying this and saying this? The media needs to stop trying to tell us what we're going to do.

Speaking of budgetary pork....

It probably won't surprise you to hear that I'm in favor of saving the whales, and I'd like to thank the fisherman who go the extra mile and feed the whales.

I also enjoyed the BBC site's pictorial offering today. Bowie's Golden Years.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:01 PM | Comments (2)
Beware the Dick

I've been considering the current Administration, the ongoing hints of data manipulation, misinterpretation, misdirection, and outright lying.

Whatever happened to ethics in politics and business, anyhow?

There was a day when Tricky Dick Nixon's exposure as a foul-mouthed, lying, criminal nerd was a source of shame to the country. Watergate shook the country to its foundations but the subsequent criminality of Iran-Contra (Remember how Dick Cheney, vice-chairing the investigating commission afterwards, declared that Reagan was out of the loop on the whole deal?) was accepted, albeit with a certain cynicism, by a significant percentage of the population.

Was the weight of the government's dishonesty about Vietnam, combined with the revelations of Tricky Dick's McCarthyite "list of enemies" just too much for the country's idealism? Was Iran-Contra 'the last straw'?

And the poison seems to be spreading.

I mean, speaking of Iran-Contra, why, precisely did Bush and Cheney recruit Poindexter, the man who took the fall for the Reagan Administration's involvement in that ugly mess, to run something as problematic as "Total Information Awareness"?

And why was Elliott Abrams, the man convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra scandal appointed by Bush & Cheney to be " Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations at the National Security Council"? (What price now Dick Cheney's post Iran-Contra memo suggesting that what would fix the NCS was better job descriptions so that we'd have a clearer understanding of what everyone was doing?)

And what about Enron? What about Dick Cheney's secret meetings with those later exposed as the instigators of a massive criminal fraud?

And why does Dick want to hide intelligence information Bush received before 9/11, unless there's something there that would reflect badly on them all? Did he, as has been speculated, derive from Tricky Dick's downfall that the real problem lay in the paper trail? (Anyone believe that new commission we hear Bush is going to set up going to be allowed to look at those August papers?)

There are continuing revelations of ethics problems at Halliburton. When it was under Dick Cheney's control, no less.

Remember when Richard (Dick!) Perle was busted for unethical and possibly illegal behavior? The story is in The Price of Loyalty with more details. Not so surprisingly, Dick Cheney and ethics are other topics that come up.

And a Supreme Court Justice has managed to generate a little ethical controversy. Yes, it's Dick Cheney again. Does the man never stop?

Sometimes ethics seem particularly hard to find in the oil industry, too.

According to Dick Cheney:

ďThe problem is that the good Lord didnít see fit to put oil and gas reserves where there are democratic governments.Ē

(I think the 'good Lord' might take exception to that kind of slur, Dick. The Middle East had civilization, including law and order, when your ancestors were still digging under rocks to find bugs to eat, okay? And a lot of their problems today are the result of 'democratic' governments exploiting those peoples and their countries, problems that continue today, under your guidance, as the article points out, so let's just be a little less high and mighty about how you're one of the 'chosen ones' because you're really not an example of the best of the breed.)

And, speaking of breeds, there's an ethics crisis in the strange and inexplicable world of dog breeding.

Someone needs to get to the bottom of this. What exactly was Dick Cheney's involvement?

Update: Take a look at Josh Marshall's post. Did anyone do anything criminal in the Plame affair? Looks like the answer is, "yes" and the names are from Dick Cheney's staff.

Think about this. Would the current Administration even exist without Dick?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)
February 04, 2004
Courtesy of: Seriously Stupid Publications

Once again I'm asking myself why I even go look at the OpinionJournal and I have no answer.

On the Editorial Page
Is a threat "imminent" if it arrives in a Capitol mailroom?

That depends. Was it wrapped in a budget proposal?

How President Bush is smarter than the intellectuals who disdain him.

I doubt if he'd say they 'disdain' him. That's a pretty complicated word, after all.

Leisure & Arts BY GREG SANDOW/
The iTunes site leaves classical music fans singing the blues.

How amazingly clever of you to offer such an unexpected piece of wordplay entirely unlike the last fifty-thousand jokes on this subject.

OpinionJournal's Political Diary
The Kerry-Edwards romance waltzes toward consummation; General Clark scores an Oklahoma victory but defeat hangs over his campaign; Rev. Sharpton's play to be a player looks played out; Gov. Schwarzenegger emerges as a money magnet for candidates and causes; Ohio enlists in the gay marriage wars; Texas senator-governor job switch may be in the works for 2006; Howard Dean started out as Gene McCarthy and became Ross Perot. (Click to Subscribe)

There's not one item in that list that gives me even the slightest desire to hand money over to these people in order to read it. This site has the most boring 'teasers' I've ever seen.

Best of the Web Today BY JAMES TARANTO
In 2001, some said anthrax attackers were "right-wingers" targeting Dems. What do they say now about the ricin scare?

They say, "Look! The Republicans hired an exterminator."

(No? Not funny? Maybe you're right. That's a shame, because I'm pretty sure there was an Arnold joke in there somewhere. Somewhere between "exterminator" and "terminator" you know. No? Okay. Shutting up now.)

On the Editorial Page
The president tells Congress to choose between guns and butter.

Pick butter. Guns make lousy sandwiches.

Trade barriers won't help South Carolina's economy--or America's.

I smell someone who found a tiny anomaly he can use for an example.

Laura Bush and Dana Gioia remake the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tell it to get rid of those plaid pants, okay?

Best of the Web Today BY JAMES TARANTO
More than 250 Muslims martyred in religious ritual. Plus John Kerry, K Street populist!

(A) If for no other reason, I'd dislike Taranto's writing because of his infatuation with exclamation points.

(B) How insensitive do you have to be to put those two items together just like that?

Bah. I'm going back to work.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:59 PM | Comments (2)
What I Would Have Talked About

If I'd had time to blog today.

I'd have discussed how the Massachusetts ruling is going to make the religious conservatives scream and how it's the first step toward the inevitable division between a "civil union" (for everyone, het, gay, bi, trans, whatever) that's the piece recognized by the law and "marriage" as a purely religious institution. This will allow different religions to take their own stance based on their dubious standards of morality and keep the state and church separate on this subject. Mark my words. Some day, most of us will be wearing the union label.

I'd have puzzled over just exactly when the CIA's mandate changed. You know, the one that forbid them to conduct operations on USofA territory.

I would had a few rude things to say about Republicans against ethics.

I would have made yet another post on the horrors of executing the mentally incompetent.

I might have wept, but I would surely have ranted about this Auschwitz comparison and about how true it is.

I would have said to take a look at this site, which is new to me.

I would have recommended we all bookmark this site since I'm sure we're all gathering various primary-related sites to check over the next few months.

I would have been shaking my head over this, and this and this especially, with the list of USofA companies documented as having done the kind of business with Iraq that can lead to development of WMD.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:54 PM | Comments (5)
It's not that I don't love you any more

It's just that it had to come - one of those days when doing Actual Work was going to have to take precedence over blogging.

No time for the headlines, but I did take a quick sweep through the land o'blog, to see what everyone had to say about last night's primary results. There's surprisingly little discussion of it all.

But I do agree with Tom that it's awfully hard to get the kind of attention paid to anonybloggers like Atrios.

Except that I donít exactly want to be an anonyblogger. It lacks distinction.

No, I think that from now on I required to be referred to as the Grand PoohBlogger and to be addressed as, "Your Specialness." I always wanted a Sekrit Identity.

Of course, in order to be really Sekrit, I'm going to have to convince y'all to forget I'm a girl who lives in Colorado, so I'm asking you now to just do that little thing for me.

Those of you in favor will be allowed to address me as 'Poobla', but only in private.

While I'm at it, I think I'll develop a few superpowers.

I was thinking only yesterday that the ability to command the instantaneous presence of an elevator, eliminating those toe-tapping waits, would be a good one.

I'm also going to work on the psychic ability to convince drivers in rush hour traffic that the lane I'm not in is moving faster, thus tempting them to clear the road in front of me.

Updates will be posted as the situation warrants, unless I forget all about the subject in the next ten seconds.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)
February 03, 2004
Dear Diary

Boys are so stubborn. No matter how often someone tells them they can't do something, they go right ahead and plan to do it.

Sometimes they don't follow the rules. They don't seem to think the rules apply to them.

They tell lies, too. My mommy says telling lies is naughty and when you get caught, you're going to be in big trouble, but boys always seem to think they can figure out a way to get away with it.

Mostly they stick by their friends, though. I guess that's a good thing about them. They don't always, of course. Not if it looks like they're going to get in trouble or something.

Boys aren't very responsible, either. And then they don't like anyone saying bad things about them, even though they say a lot of bad things about other people. That's just dumb.

You can't always figure out what they're doing or if they're lying on purpose or if they know they're wrong.

They're expensive, they start fights, they believe strange things. They're boring, even when they shouldn't be.

Mostly, though, boys are just weird sometimes.

Gosh, I'm glad I'm not a boy.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:45 PM | Comments (4)

News outlets may not be in any hurry these days to "call" the results of a race, but that doesn't mean some of them aren't willing to step up to the plate and kick a little dirt on a movment's shoes.

(Actually, all mockery aside, I've been enjoying the alternating Right/Left commentary that CBS has started offering.)

Posted by AnneZook at 04:29 PM | Comments (0)
AIDS drug's price soars

Doctors are outraged by the 400% jump in the cost of the vital medicine.

Doctors nationwide have begun an unprecedented protest over a 400 percent increase in the price of a drug that has helped hundreds of thousands of patients with HIV and AIDS live longer.

A friendly and often lucrative relationship between HIV doctors and Abbott Laboratories has gone sour because of the price increase. What began as a war of words between several HIV organizations and the company has escalated to include a boycott.

In a Jan. 20 letter to the company, more than 150 doctors who specialize in HIV care said they will resign from Abbott advisory panels, refuse to participate in Abbott drug trials or attend Abbott-sponsored lectures. They will ban Abbott representatives from their offices and consider alternatives to Abbott drugs when possible for their patients.

The link, to the Sacramento Bee, has the whole article, which I encourage you to read in full.

Okay, what else is new in health care?

Well, there's Rural health funds would shrink under Bush budget.

For those not registered with the site:

By Jeff Tieman, Modern Healthcare / Feb 3, 2004

Congress helped rural providers in the Medicare reform law, but now President Bush would take away from rural healthcare under his 2005 budget request.

The budget blueprint Bush sent Congress Monday would take a 70% bite out of rural health programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration of HHS and would represent "the largest reductions to rural programs in more than 10 years," according to the National Rural Health Association.

Specifically, Bush's budget proposal would chop rural health outreach grants to $11 million in fiscal 2005 from $40 million in 2004 and eliminate the Rural Hospital Flexibility Grant Program and all HRSA funding for public health improvement projects.

The federal government will spend an estimated $372 million on such projects in fiscal 2004. The proposed cuts have rural providers -- which won a number of concessions in the Medicare reform law -- preparing for another fight.

At deadline, HHS officials had not responded to a request for comment.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)
Yo. Listen up!

This is directed at you on the conservative side of the political aisle, those disenchanted with the Bush Administration's version of 'fiscal responsibility.'

Please bear in mind that the primaries are not the elections. When you step into that voting booth on your state's primary day, whether it's today or sometime later in the cycle, you're not voting against liberals. You're voting for whatever conservative ideas you believe in.

Why not make that vote count? If you're not enamored of the current Administration's behavior, toss your primary vote toward a candidate whose ideas more closely fit yours. No, you're not going to trash the election and you're not going to prevent the George and Dick parade from winning the nomination, but you will send a clear message about the direction you want them to take in the unlikely event they should actually win the election.

I mean, I don't think it will do you much good because they didn't get even half the vote last time and they showed no compunction about dissing the opinions and desires of the majority of voters as well as defying the wishes of a lot of conservatives, and there's no way they can run for re-election again so they have nothing to lose this time but it's worth a try, right?

With absolutely zero assistance from the national media, there are four candidates who managed to attract a noticeable amount of attention in New Hampshire, each having secured more than 1% of the votes.*

There's Richard Bosa, who thinks this country has lost far too many manufacturing jobs and that this is largely because huge, multinational corporations own Congress in fee simple. There are a lot of people who might agree with him.

I'm not sure that his plan to bar all lawyers from public office is quite as rational. Him hating all lawyers isn't really much of a reason to bar everyone with knowledge of the law from serving in the government, but whatever. He might be flexible on that one. You could ask him.

Seriously, he advocates term limits (no more than two terms for any public office) and describes his platform this way:

"[Focusing] on the root core problem of the deterioration of values by government, not acknowledging constitutional guarantees, corrupt courts, silent press intimidated by lawyers, civic groups like the Chamber Of Commerce, NH Business and Industry working for self serving interests and the movement of JOBS by multinationals destroying NH and the US economy, and the lack of morals in the Catholic Church. I call this period 'The Medieval Dark Ages of the 21st Century' where greed, lust for wealth, property and control is the driving force for most individuals, corporations and government agencies."

There's John Rigazio, whose message is that we need to get out of the WTO. He feels strongly on this topic. Strongly enough to have, apparently, attempted to moon the press when discussing the subject. There aren't any pictures because, as I understand it, the press had gotten bored and left by that point, a thing for which we can all probably be profoundly grateful. And, in the interests of full disclosure, he only signed up as a Republican for the primaries because he said the Democratic leadership wasn't taking him seriously. He's pretty much spent his life on the Left.

[He is] against federal tax cuts, against free trade treaties like GATT & NAFTA, supports a substantial hike in the minimum wage, and favors a Canadian-style universal health-care system for the US. He also is refusing to accept any campaign contributions and vows to fund his NH primary campaign with $100,000 from his own pocket.

For the conspiracy-minded among you, there's John Buchanan who prides himself on being the one who discovered and revealed the Bush family's connection to the Nazis. He's a touch delusional (he really thought he was going to sweep New Hampshire out from under Bush's nose and further he actually thinks that Bush should be held accountable for things that may and/or may not have happened before his birth), but whatever.

His candidacy is specifically to shake up the White House, to send a message to the Bush Administration that the Party isn't happy with their behavior. Unfortunately, his platform sort of stops there. "[H]e is running in 2004 as a "peace candidate" and is seeking a "chance to be taken seriously as a 'Bush-stopper.""

That's a pretty sad group, isn't it? I'm afraid there were no other Republican contenders who managed to scoop in more than 1% of the vote in New Hampshire. (Several Democrats did, for what it's worth.)

I used to be worried about the Democrats, but after looking at the quality of candidates being fielded by the Republicans and realizing that there's no one of conscience and principle (and sanity) willing to stand up to the current Administration, I'm worried about the Right, instead. Where are the John McCain quality candidates this time? Did the Party leadership, aware of disaffection in the ranks, put out the word that they'd Take Steps against anyone making a serious push against the current Administration or something?

(* Material pulled from here and here.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:56 AM | Comments (3)
Taxes and the American Dream

I'm contemplating what Ray over at Bellona Times is saying and not agreeing with the objections to my objections.

My point was, and for once I think I stated it pretty clearly, that there are "estates" and "estates" and that all of the hand-wringing over those horrible rich people who leave multi-million dollar "estates" to their children invariably fails to distinguish between, say, a family farm where the land is ostensibly worth twenty-five million dollars and that's the only "value" beyond the purely theoretical amount they may and/or may not make on next year's harvest assuming the rains come and then the hail holds off and where a 30% "estate" tax serves no purpose but to force the family to sell up, causing the land to wind up in the control of some mega-sized agricultural corporation that "farms" on a chemical-heavy wholesale basis and, not being a corporeal entity, never has to pay "estate" taxes, and someone whose family made a million dollars in railroads a hundred years ago and has parlayed that into fifty-five million dollars by stock market investments based (one suspects) on the occasional piece of inside information and whose current members sit around clipping coupons and realizing that Bush is going to go to war against Iraq no matter what anyone says, so now is the perfect time to dump a few million into Halliburton stock.

(That was just so biased and obnoxious and unfair. I'm tempted to re-write it, but since I did, in fact, realize last summer that defense stocks were going to be a sure money-maker under this Administration but virtuously declined to buy any on moral grounds, I think my self-restraint entitles me to a moment of rudeness.) (Okay. Let's forge onward.)

If someone starts a business and they run it with the help of their kid and a couple of other relatives and that business is worth twenty-five million dollars by the time the founder, Little Rich Man, dies and LRM decides to leave it all to their one kid, is it right that this "estate" should be taxed at 30%? That "value" is merely the amount of "worth" set on it by IRS regulations to allow the government to decide how much they're entitled to, you know. There's no one connected with LRM or his company that has anything like that amount of money. What if that twenty-five million is just the "book value" and that the head of the family took a modest $50,000 annual salary and the rest of the profits were plowed back into the business each year? Is it right that a 30% "estate tax" should force the family to either go bankrupt, sell out, or acquire a crippling load of debt in order to pay that tax? Is it right that that estate tax throws the company's fifteen employees out of work?

Not all "estates" are created equal. For every John Paul Getty, there are two thousand or more Little Rich Men.

Moving on.

I didn't invent the "American Dream" okay? So don't blame me if that vague concept doesn't match your personal vision of the world. (Nor am I responsible for the fact that money can't buy happiness. The Declaration guarantees "the pursuit of happiness" but it says nothing about how accumulating $50,000,000,000 will guarantee it and neither I nor the Founding Fathers are responsible for the trend of advertising in the USofA that convinced most people that money was all they needed.)

Besides, for most of us, the "American Dream" does. Match our personal visions, I mean.

The "American Dream" is to achieve financial security, to leave your children better off than you were when you started, to give your descendents a "leg up" on success, and to be able to cushion your family against disaster, even after you're dead.

Whether the amount required, in your mind, is leaving $5,000 each or $50,000,000 to each person in your will is just a matter of degree. It's the same dream.

Nor am I against progressive taxation. I'm for progressive taxation, okay? I pay more than a lot of people and I've never complained about it. I'm single and childless, so none of Bush's much-ballyhooed 'tax breaks' gave me a dime. And I'm not complaining. I'm better off than a lot of people and I know it. I have no problem at all with dumping some of my money into a central fund that's supposed to be spent helping those who didn't have my advantages get a fair shot at a better life. I think it's right.

"More fortune than fills a champagne glass is a waste."

No, no, no, no. That's just not true. Capital is important. Capital is vital to our economy*. It may shock some of you to hear this, but rich people are vital to our economy. A pool of significant capital with a controlling mind that directs it toward new projects or industries is important.

A committee never invented anything and committees aren't, in general, famous for the breadth of their vision or their willingness to take great leaps. It takes individual vision to make progress and rich people/families have frequently been instrumental in funding individuals with vision. For that reason, private donations to scientific laboratories, think tanks, and, yes, guys working out of their garages, are important. Libraries, hospitals, charities, colleges, all of these benefit significantly from endowments by the wealthy and no amount of government revenue can substitute for those endowments or for the freedom from government regulations independent funding grants those organizations.

(*And the current Administration's creation of deficits that are likely to last for a decade or more are going to create serious capital-flow problems in another year or so. Because there's only so much capital available and when the government borrows too much of it, there's not a lot left for business investment and interest rates go up. This is especially damaging to small and start-up businesses.)

More specifically:

"... taxing someone just because they didn't spend everything they made while they were alive..."
Who is this "someone" who is no longer alive?

When you're talking about an "estate tax" someone is usually dead. At least, that's how I understand it. ( /sarcasm I'm sort of obnoxious today, aren't I? I don't even know Ray, and I'm making a ghastly impression.)

"... not all people who inherit wealth are unworthy..."
Here we see the assumption that a tax is some kind of moral judgment. Bad rich people don't get charged extra for badness (although bad poor people certainly do, courtesy of sin taxes), and I don't say they should be. The government needs money and rich people have money and that's all there is to it. If they don't like their country enough to support it, let 'em move to Russia. When I make more money, I pay more taxes and I don't kick; if I can't maintain the land I've inherited, well, there are plenty of other people who can't maintain the land they've got right now. Small family farms aren't going to be saved by increased concentration of wealth and fewer federal services any more than the cattle industry is going to be saved by fewer inspections.

I promise you, no one exempts a rich person from the tax on scotch or the tax on cigarettes, just because they're rich. A "sin tax" may be proportionately harder on a poor person, but it's the same dollar amount as paid by the rich person. In fact, since the rich person theoretically has no need to worry about whether or not he can "afford" more scotch, he's likely to buy more and consequently winds up paying more of the "sin tax."

Also? Taxing someone extra because they're rich is, in fact, a sort of moral judgment. "You have more than society thinks you're entitled to" is what it says.

I'm not saying we shouldn't do it, I'm just saying let's not be hypocrites about it.

That last sentence (in the quote above) confuses me, though. My point was that small family farms (and similar business) might need to be considered differently than other "estates" or there won't be any small family farms in a few years, not that wealth should be allowed to pool in a few hands for fear of hurting a farmer.

And then Ray links to this which, in my view, is just wrong. Rich citizens do not, in fact, receive government services in proportion to the taxes they pay. Mind you, I'm not saying they should, I'm just saying they don't. A rich person who pays 10% of his city's entire taxes doesn't receive 10% of the water, light, gas, police protection, free legal services, road repair, snow removal, or anything else.

I find it hard to believe that anyone would actually argue that "rich citizens" benefit through government pork.

Government pork is used to fund locally popular but federally unnecessary programs, to cut tax breaks for various corporations, and to funnel government contracts to specific districts, all of which help get representatives re-elected. It's rarely used to benefit individuals. Actually, I can't think of one time that it was.

Let's be clear that "pork" (government spending programs) and "taxes/tax breaks" are not the same thing. And a "stable currency"? I promise you that the guy with $20 in his pocket benefits 1000% more from stable buying power for that currency than the guy with $2,000,000. When you consider "benefit" as directly reflected in personal financial and economic stability, I mean. (Actually, an unstable currency can be better for the $2,000,000 guy. Since he has excess capital above what he needs to fulfill his daily living requirements he can, in theory, expand it considerably by speculating on future currency fluctuations. Anyhow. I mostly disagree with that whole side-link.

"... what about the guy... who spends 20% or more of his annual income on charitable concerns?"
Nice guy -- unbelievably nice guy, especially if the "charities" aren't run by Pat Robertson -- but charitable donations were deductible even in the highest brackets of the progressive tax, so I'd say he's taken care of.

There are, in fact, quite a few people, who give more to charities every year than the maximum they're allowed to take a tax break for, but that wasn't my point in that remark. My point is that we tend to scream about evil rich people sucking up all the money, but someone isn't evil because they're rich and it's really not okay to decide that taking half of their stuff after they die is okay because they were probably a horrible person anyhow.

Progressive taxation? Yes.

Punitive taxation? No.

And, yes, I absolutely do think the motive behind what you do matters. The ends, you know, not justifying the means sort of thing.

Read more about the Bush Administration's plans for taxation, none of which has anything to do with this entry but I always think anyone who wades through one of my endless rambles is entitled to some kind link to actual content.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:33 AM | Comments (2)
February 02, 2004

Thanks to Avedon Carol (who so totally needs comments), I find I'm being disagreed with which is cool by me, especially since I started it.

Still. I object to being disagreed with when someone is disagreeing with things I didn't say.

I say a lot of stupid things. If the studio audience would confine themselves to disagreeing with those things, this program will go much more smoothly and we can all get out of here at a decent hour. I'll have more to say about the whole thing later. Right now, I'm trying to get through my blogroll since my own morning's browsing of the news headlines didn't produce much in the way of intelligent comment about matters of importance.

For instance, for those interested in the James Yee case, the Army chaplain arrested for 'espionage', held without charges for a couple of months or more, and eventually charged with adultery and downloading porn, Jeanne is on top of it. (And, in answer to someone's question in this blog's comments, no Yee's 'partner' in adultery has not been charged. Also it seems that the adultery charge itself doesn't fit the criteria Bush's 2002 guidelines lay out for an official prosecution.)

And Kevin Drum found dumb Democrats, no question about it.

Tom Burka wrote and I was laughing until I read the link.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:35 PM | Comments (2)

Sometimes weird things happen. Like when I hit my bookmark for CNN and for some reason I get the site for this story from the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

The odd thing is that I'm sure I blogged that story once, several months ago, but I don't have a link to it in my bookmarks.

I don't like strangeness first thing in the morning.

Although there are few things on the planet I care less about than football, I'm still going to point out that there's a fundamental weirdness in a group of people who sit down happily to spend an hour or two watching a bunch of grown men beat up on each other but whose tender sensibilities are wounded by the unexpected sight of part of a woman's breast.

Also, today I'm having just a teeny bit of empathy with people who describe themselves as "small government supporters." I mean, are my tax dollars really going to enforce a Denver ruling that prohibits people from having their holiday lights still lighting up their homes in February? How do these bits of insanity become law, anyhow? (No link, heard it on the local radio morning news.)

All last week that Arizona prison situation wasn't much of a story. There were occasional mentions of it, but the press couldn't be bothered. Today, the ABC News 'teaser' on their main page is, "Guard Free After Harrowing Standoff With Dangerous Prisoners." I wonder how it all became so much more dangerous after it was ove?

Those of you fantasizing that the Bush Administration knows what it's doing and that it has real plans to cut that nasty ol' deficit down by 50% in 5 years need to take notice of the fact that the massive budget proposal doesn't include the billions of dollars Iraq and Afghanistan require.

"Our nation remains at war," Mr. Bush declared in his budget message. "This nation has committed itself to the long war against terror. And we will see that war to its inevitable conclusion: the destruction of the terrorists."

(Europe says Bush should do something about the situation in Iraq. I don't think the Bush Administration has any idea what to do, okay? Their solution to an untenable situation was, "bail out" which surprises me less the more I get to know them.)

Mr. Bush would boost military spending by 7 percent in 2005, but that does not include the money needed to keep troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Officials said a supplemental request for these funds will be sent to Congress but not until after the November elections. Congress last year approved an $87.5 billion wartime supplemental for the current budget year.

We remain at war, but we're not gonna pay for it any more.

But, of course, there's lots of money for guns and ammo to fight elsewhere.

One has to wonder if those people actually think they're fooling anyone with these tactics.


To battle the soaring deficits, Mr. Bush proposed squeezing scores of government programs and sought outright spending cuts in seven of 15 Cabinet-level agencies. The Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency were targeted for the biggest reductions.

Because caring about the safety of our food, air, and water is so 20th century, isn't it?

I am in such a mood. Can someone please tell the people in this office that the correct way to make coffee does not involve filling the filter 2/3 full of grounds and running a scant cup of water over it? I don't mind the waste, even though I personally purchased the $15/pound coffee, but I do mind that I have to restrict myself to 1/3 of a cup or get the psychotic jitters.

I really don't like the new Editor and Publisher site look. It doesn't have half the personality of the old site.

And someone has gotten on their feet and announced that secret trials based on secret evidence really isn't all that democratic.

Here's one in the eye for people who donít understand the connection between unions and today's labor laws, and who maybe think unions have outlived their usefulness.

Outside this country, it looks like they hate us more than they used to. It's nice to be making the world safe against terrorism, isn't it?

(Or are we more of a How-To manual for cloaking repression in a shroud of democracy?)

(I've really been wondering how Bush's staff reacted to the SotU applause in the wrong place.)

And how about that internet voting idea, anyhow? Can the problems be fixed, or not?

All issues of Iraq and Intelligence (faulty or otherwise) aside, I really do have a weakness for 'spy stories' and this type of Cold War disinformation project is fascinating to me.

I don't just read the funny columns for the giggles. I read them for their educational value, too.

Words that have have one pronunciation but two opposing meanings (cleave, sanction, fast ...) are contranyms, by the way, as opposed to an oxymoron, which is two or more words with opposing meanings (deafening silence, government intelligence, fun run ...).

And it's probably not what Dave Barry had in mind, but after reading his column, I totally want to take a cruise.

P.S. I'm totally sure I never blogged about "wouter bassoon" did I? Is it a person, place, or musical instrument?

(P.P.S. A quick Google shows I didn't, but I did blog about " Wouter Basson" so that's okay. Am I becoming one of those bloggers who are addicted to their stats? How embarrassing.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:46 AM | Comments (2)