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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

April 09, 2004
Winston Churchill Day

I don't have much to say about that. I'm a bit tired of politics and politicians at the moment.

Sometimes, on a lazy Friday, I offer examples from the weird and wild annals of my search referrals but not today. Today hasn't been that lazy.

I'll content myself with saying that some people have some extremely odd, and extremely specific, ahem interests. You can find anything on-line. You just have to know how to search. Based on the search parameters I see in my stats, I'm thinking a "how to search" guide could be useful for a lot of these connoisseurs of the unusual.

I've been exploring my statistics program and have discovered it collects an astonishing range of information.

I am surprisingly unpopular on Wednesdays. I'd give up Wednesday blogging but I'm not doing this for your benefit. Hmph.

I am impressed by the number of you who wait until the evening hours when (presumably) you're not at work, to read blogs. Except for that odd 1:00 a.m. spike. (I'd rather you didn't get drunk before you read me but maybe I'm easier to stand that way. I don't know. I don't care enough to make a real fuss about it.)

The Netherlands is very fond of me. Israel is not. Hits from the USofA Military aren't frequent enough to worry me. I must look up Seychelles on a map.

So far I've only permabanned 30 IP addresses from accessing my page, all of which were used by comment-spammers.

In other news (that means we're about to start considering topics not immediately related to my fascinating self), you should always read comments. Reading comments leads you to cool, new sites and interesting posts or scolds.

Yesterday evening, I revisited the Museum of Broadcast Communication's Television Encyclopedia.

As a brief essay on the 'journalistic' history of television is interesting, leaves me wanting more, and annoys me because of the absurd page formatting. Interested, enticed, and annoyed. That's a pretty good haul for one short essay.

However, browsing around the site, I have trouble believing I found this in the Green Acres essay:

Prestigious lawyer Oliver Wendell Douglas […] and his socialite wife Lisa […] trade in their exhausting Park Avenue existence for the simple country pleasures, which they imagine await them wrapped in a cloak of Jeffersonian idealism, glorious sunrises, and the smell of new-mown hay. What they find instead is a consensus reality which flies in the face of Cartesian logic, Newtonian physics, and Harvard-sanctioned positivism.

I always remembered it as a harmless show where Eva Gabor was vaguely annoying. If I'd known I was being bathed in the profound aura of Harvard-sanctioned positivism . . . I probably would have turned it off and read a book.

I don't Believe, as you might have suspected, but those in charge of the company I work for do. That means I'm out of here now until Monday. Y'all have a nice weekend. Especially those of you in places not anticipating 6-8 inches of snow over the weekend.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)
Pardon Me

Your bias is showing again.

SmallDeadAnimals (that's a ghastly blog name) fills in some gaps in the Rice testimony. Gaps apparently created by news organizations with an agenda.

I think Not Geniuses is (are?) wrong. This isn't a "non-scandal" at all. And certainly not because the edits made a Bush Administration official look bad.

This is exactly the kind of media interference in passing information to us that drives me nuts. By gosh, if we're going to be asked to decide what Rice's testimony tells us about the Bush Administration's attention to terrorism warnings, then we're entitled to the full text of her testimony or at least to know that said text has been edited!

Posted by AnneZook at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)
That's all I'm sayin'

This is the sort of thing you get when you have a CEO instead of a leader.

I heard on NPR last night that one of the things Richard Clark was told, when he was trying to get time on Bush's schedule to brief him, was that he'd get time with the president after the staff had had time to decide what the Administration's position on terrorism was.

Think about that. Bush isn't guiding his Administration's position on issues. They're choosing their own positions and taking them to Bush to rubber-stamp them.

It's very much the way a CEO operates.

It's not at all how a leader should act.

Also, in the past when people have shouted that the Bush Administration had told an out-and-out lie about something, analysis usually showed that it was possible to check the semantics and see that the Bush Administration hadn't, quite, been saying what we were hearing.* I don't know if that's going to happen with Rice's testimony.

* I wonder if that's why Bush's speeches strike me as being so clumsy and inept? Because they're making such a focused attempt to imply one thing while not actually saying it? A task like that doesn't leave much room for choosing your words based on making the speaker sound intelligent. Or even convincing.

Anyhow.

Eric Rauchway, my favorite Alterman Alternate, is subbing today and he's talking about Rice. He's interested in her syntax.

This conspicuously careful language raises a question. Dr. Rice and I have one experience in common: responsibility for teaching undergraduates. I know that at Stanford, where Rice was Provost, they teach students not to begin sentences with "there was," because it makes for poor communication -- it allows you to assert something about the existence or non-existence of an action but it makes it unclear who did what, where and when. The National Security Adviser is not using this impenetrable locution by accident. What is she being vague about?

Also note the quoted bit of Rice's testimony where she's defending the Administration's failure to take the pre-9/11 warnings seriously by saying that no one told them to take action against the threats.

That, too, can play two ways. If the memo in question was that solid, should the intelligence agency have included a specific, "do something, dammit" notation?

But even more interestingly, let's sit here for a moment and think about what kind of Administration can't figure out for itself when it should act…or at least demand immediate follow-up data when the course of action is unclear?

The answer, of course, is obvious. An Administration headed by a CEO and not "led" by a leader.

Moving on, Eric also quotes for us, Rice's careful disclaimer: "There was nothing in this memo that suggested that an attack was coming on New York or Washington, D.C." and I'm left wondering if the memo suggested, for instance, that an attack was coming on LA or San Francisco and the Administration figured there was no big rush to save either of those places?

I pick on that specific statement of hers because it's obviously one she rehearsed in advance. She's saying exactly what she wants to say there. What are we not being told?

Anyhow. I'm feeling fair and balanced today, but really and not in the way FOX others mean it, so let me point out something else:

Kerrey picked up on this question of what had been done by mentioning the president's much-quoted "I'm tired of swatting flies" line, which he wanted to "disabuse" Rice of further using: "What fly had he swatted?" Kerrey asked. Rice wanted to give context to the question, and Kerrey came back: "No, no, he hadn't swatted.... We only swatted a fly once on the 20th of August 1998. We didn't swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired?"

Much as I like dissing Bush, I have to say that this is a bit silly.

I can easily imagine Bush making this statement and actually thinking of everything this country had or had not done about terrorism over the last ten or twelve years. In that context, to someone infatuated with the picture of himself as a 'war president' it could well have seemed that our bombing raids, sanctions and discoveries of small-scale terrorist cells was "swatting flies." In fact, almost any president might have made a similar statement. "I'm tired of [this country] swatting flies." Like I said, I'm no Bush-booster, but that's certainly the read I would have given that statement.

More broadly, let's just admit that he's not the only person in this country who secretly thought all you had to do to make the world a better place was to kill everyone you thought was evil. He's just the only one we handed an army to and an invitation to give it a try.

And now I'm all distracted from Rice's testimony because I'm wondering if any of the people who shared that secret view are learning anything from watching our failures in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:38 AM | Comments (3)
Bad to Worse

A 10 year-old girl was arrested for stealing Good. A scary and unpleasant hour today may be enough to convince her that stealing is wrong…a task her parents clearly failed to accomplish.

Rwanda tries to eliminate the grounds for another genocide by declaring there is no ethnicity, only a national identity. I don't know how I feel about that.

A year later in Iraq.

Dark Matter

As the presidential campaign reaches critical mass, the United States will break a long-held taboo and launch the first weapon into the global commons of outer space.

Iraqi kidnappers have taken more hostages.

The hostage crisis in Iraq has escalated as insurgents say they have seized four Italians and two Americans in Baghdad as the Sunday deadline to burn alive three Japanese captives draws closer.
Posted by AnneZook at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)
A MAD Political World

The only thing I disagree with in Meyer's column is the part where he says that, "both sides have been cheapened slightly" by their mutual, uncontrolled attacks and finger-pointing. He's quite wrong. Both sides will be cheapened considerably."

And Kim is right...but not exactly. I wish we could talk about peace, yes. But I don't think we can abandon the sane, civilized people of Iraq. The ones who are going to suffer at the hands of the militias and who will be slaughtered as the various clerics struggle for control of the country.

We can't leave Iraq now, and Kucinich's view that we needed to leave, instantly, was one of the major reasons I didn't support his candidacy.

We've opened the door to anarchy. It's incumbent upon us to help close it.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:16 AM | Comments (2)
Bye-Bye

Clear Channel got slapped with a half-million dollar fine for Howard Stern's potty mouth and they're dumping him from their line-up.

He'll probably scream it's a liberal media conspiracy but Howard Stern bores me, so that's all I have to say about that.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)
April 08, 2004
What did the bunny do to you?

Religion is scary.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:24 PM | Comments (2)
Later That Same Day

Here in Colorado, one of the beer people is running for the Senate. I'm sure Conservatives are thrilled.

If Josh Marshall had comments, we'd all be able to send him good wishes for his potentially narrow escape.

I adored The X-Files but not the movie. I'm not excited about the prospect of a second movie but I'm not resistant to it, either. I mean...Chris Carter signing off on the story concept doesn't inspire me. He doesn't live on in my memory as the architect of the best stuff XF offered.

I'll probably keep an eye on the project.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)
Blogaround

Chris Allbritton is still doing a fine job of bringing us actual journalism on the subject of Iraq. Today's faxed flyer seems to be a sort of call for the end of the current round of violence.

What I want is for the DoD to stop giving things stupid names. Trying to come up with a succession of noble-sounding tags for each offensive is on a par with the rest of the mealy-mouthed euphemisms the military uses to try and make war sound less like the sort of thing likely to blind, decapitate, cripple, or kill human beings.

There's blood, okay? Guts. Body parts fly around in pieces. People scream. People die. Can we quit pretending it's clean and dignified and all really rather fine?

Pisses me off.

Via Digby, I found a story on The American Street that hurts to read. The original and complete posts are available on the soldier's blog.

People bitch that those of us against the war aren't supporting the troops. That's not true, but even if it was, it wouldn't be half as bad as people who are prosecuting the war not supporting the troops.

I don't usually read Buzzflash but occasionally I do go over and take a look at the headlines.

I really can't decide if the following teaser for unconfirmed story crosses the line or not.

Completely Unsubstantiated Rumor: 130 American Soldiers Killed in Recent Battles. But with the GOP "Censor the Truth" Operatives and Much of the Iraq Combat "Sealed Off," You Know the Death Toll is Larger Than 12 Marines. Maybe not 130. 4/7

I dunno.

On the other hand, this Forbes story seems to have more basis in fact.

U.S. terrorism policy spawns steady staff exodus

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has faced a steady exodus of counterterrorism officials, many disappointed by a preoccupation with Iraq they said undermined the U.S. fight against terrorism.

Former counterterrorism officials said at least half a dozen have left the White House Office for Combating Terrorism or related agencies in frustration in the 2 1/2 years since the attacks.

The cautious part of my brain wants to know if 6 departures in 2-1/2 years is really extraordinary. On the face of it, it doesn't really sound like it, but some of the interview comments put it in a more serious perspective.

"If you take the (White House) counterterrorism and Middle East offices, you've got about a dozen people ... who came to this administration wanting to work on these important issues and left after a year or often less because they just don't think that this administration is dealing seriously with the issues that matter," he said.


Andrew is making a lot of sense on school vouchers and, not surprisingly, teaching me a lot more about them as he goes.

Presidents and Prime Ministers in life and in fiction. Interesting contrast. Maybe British television leans toward absurdist PMs because they have more of a history and experience of outstanding statesmen in office than we do? When we want to be entertained by absurdity in office, we just open the newspapers.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:38 AM | Comments (4)
Told You So

The war in Afghanistan isn't over.

Forces of a northern strongman overran the capital of a remote Afghan province Thursday, the interior minister said, in a burst of factional violence undermining the authority of U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai.

In the south, clashes left at least seven people dead, including two Afghan soldiers, and two police officers killed in an attack by suspected Taliban, officials said Thursday. A militant also was killed and an American soldier was wounded.

Could we spare some energy to care about the war most of us did support?

And in the other war, looks like things are still heating up.

Arabic television station al-Jazeera has shown footage of three Japanese civilians it said were taken hostage by a previously unknown Iraqi group.

The group, called the Mujahideen Brigades, said it would kill the hostages unless Tokyo withdrew its troops from Iraq within three days.

Eight South Korean church ministers are also reported to have been seized by an unnamed Iraqi group.
And a British civilian went missing in the town of Nasiriya on Tuesday.

And how about this one.

Rumsfeld: Troops May Stay Longer in Iraq

More U.S. troops could be sent to Iraq and other U.S. forces could stay longer than planned to deal with the latest surge in violence, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said.

While Rumsfeld insisted Wednesday that the fighting was not spinning out of control, his remarks were the clearest signal yet that U.S. officials were likely to increase the overall number of troops in Iraq nearly a year after President Bush declared major combat in the country completed.

I don't remember seeing either of those two stories on the front page of CNN, ABC, or CBS this morning.

I hadn't said anything, but I was thinking something similar to this on the way home last night. (More than that, I was wondering if Iraq really wanted rid of Hussein if it was the UsofA who accomplished the task. From the Iraqi response to 'coalition' troops, I get the feeling that even people who were in danger under the Hussein regime preferred that to being 'liberated' by the hated West.)

Things are bad on the Ivory Coast. With little fanfare and no headlines, the Bush Administration was working with others to make real progress toward a cease-fire between the north and the south parts of the country. But I heard on NPR the other night that a different war has broken out. Now, it seems, "Black" Muslims are at war with "Arab" Muslims. There's an audio file of the NPR story here.

If you can't afford it, don't buy it. I approve.

I approve of bipartisanship.

And I approve of not letting the Bush Administration spend-and-pork its way into public favor after it spent three years starving the government of funds for the kinds of projects I believe in, so I certainly approve of not allowing the Bush Administration to submit a budget that doesn't budget for things we all know they're going to want. Like funding for their war on Iraq.

In the past, I have endorsed spreading your political reading and discussion across both sides of the aisle. Remember? Someone else agrees with me. Talking to people who disagree with you can save you from becoming a wingnut.

Avedon Carol is back on-line and on a roll. (She wanted a link for stories on "cash-only doctors. Here is the one to the story I read.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:46 AM | Comments (1)
Its All About Ralph

First, let me say I don't object if Ralph Nader wants to run for the presidency. Whether he winds up being a "spoiler" candidate or not is beside the point. You can't argue that people shouldn't run for the presidency because someone might vote for them.

I've got nothing against the man, but you really need more of a campaign platform than "two parties ain't enough!" if you're going to run for president and, "two parties ain't enough!" is about all I hear from him in the media. (Note: That means, that's all the media is choosing to show us, besides quotes of him defending his right to run.)

You need more than that. (Well, no, you don't need more than that to run, but you sure do if you want to win.) What precisely is the man's platform, anyhow? I know in 2002, it was, "Democrats are Blue Republicans" but what is it these days?

Checking out his campaign website, I find a list of "issues" to review.

Wants electoral reform that creates a vibrant, active, participatory Democracy.

He thinks we have to have more than two major parties. Just. Not. Enough. to run on, Ralph.

Wants to make health care universally available

Progressively popular.

Wants a crackdown on corporate crime and abuse

Don't we all.

Wants a fair tax where the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share, tax wealth more than work, and tax activities we dislike more than necessities

Well, that's wordy.

Basically Ralph supports sin taxes and closing tax loopholes. I'm okay with that except that, as always in these cases, I wonder just who gets to decide what a sin is?

Smoking? Drinking? Buying high-octane gasoline? Getting an abortion? Hmmm?

Opposes media bias and media concentration

Well, that's 50/50. Opposing media bias is a good thing, but you can't legislate opinion and wanting to doesn't strike me as very liberal, Ralph. And, as always, I'm wondering who gets to define bias? Opposing media concentration is a good thing but it really depends on what he means by "concentration" doesn't it?

A family farm-consumer agriculture policy

Well, on the face of it, that sounds very nice. Who could oppose family farms?

It's a pity it's not quite that simple.

I mean, I'm all over the warm, fuzzy feeling I get when I hear that someone is farming land that's been in their family for 150 years, and I'm well aware of the abuses that can result from 'corporate' farming but it's never that simple.

One thing to remember is that 'corporate' farms are efficient. Economies of scale isn't just a phrase they used to confuse you in college. It's a very real thing. The economies of scale in corporate farming help hold down the price of food. That means even poor people can afford to eat. At least some of the time.

Second, it's not a given that corporate farms can't be environmentally sustainable. Mostly they aren't these days, but the consumer pressure that Ralph mentions on his web page can be used to drive them to it.

Then there's something in there about "agribusiness, chemical, biotechnology and financial corporations" misallocating resources. It's a bit difficult to understand exactly what he's talking about but I suspect it has a lot to do with genetically manipulated seed, pesticides, and the evil banks that loan family farmers money and then have the nerve to expect it to be paid back.

Genetically manipulated seed sounds bad if you say if real fast, but if you check into the subject, you see that, like almost everything else in the world, it's all a matter of degree. Some tampering has improved crop health, yield, and resistance to disease. Keeping down the price of food. Some tampering is meant to create "new" hybrid foods or creates foods that are too dominant, pushing out every other plant they come in contact with. Neither of those is necessarily good for the environment, especially the second one.

They say eating broccoli is good for you. What if they genetically manipulate broccoli so that it actively fights disease in your body, 10,000 times more than it does in its "natural" state? What if that disease is cancer, or AIDS? Is that still evil?

Anyhow. Let's move on.

Wants to end poverty in the United States

Noble. Laudable. What's your plan?

Wants to create jobs by investing in America's future, invest in Americans

Shorter version: New Deal style works programs. The WPA for the 21st millennium, with health car benefits for everyone. There's a version of this plan I might support. It's something that's occurred to me over the last year or two.

Wants to expand worker's rights by developing an employee bill of rights

Legislation to do a number of things. Minimum wage increase. Ban temporary and contract workers. Expand the unions. Health care.

Not everything can be fixed by passing a law about it. Some things can be helped but passing a law is only the first step.

Not everyone wants a permanent, full-time job. Some people like working temp or on contract. Some companies wouldn't survive if they couldn't hire temps to cover for staff on vacation or out on medical leave.

It goes on, but I'm bored with this game.

Let me just say I saw a lot of utopian fantasizing but nothing to indicate that Nader has the first idea of how to build his ideal society and while I don't expect a fifteen-point plan on every issue a candidate supports, I saw a lack of detail on this site that said he doesn't have any workable solutions for the problems that annoy him. I agree, in very broad theory, with a number of the things he says he wants for this country. I just doubt he's the man to help us get them.

David offers a more intelligent analysis.


Posted by AnneZook at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)
April 07, 2004
Bloggin' Around Again

Archie finds idiots (or "John McKay gets cranky, if the first link doesn't work.)

Avedon Carol is suffering through enjoying another service upgrade. While we wait, we should all read this

Riverbend gives us yet more reasons to dislike war.

Zeyad talks about the fighting from a different perspective.

Katrina gives us a round-up of some of the newer, more interesting anti-Bush-themed organizations.

Jeff is soliciting opinions about creating a vision of the government we'd like to have, and the environment is very central. Read. Respond.

B.J. has an equally important problem under the microscope. " Organization with Ties to Racist Hate Group Airs Ad Attacking Democratic Congressman Martin Frost" All the contact info you need is there. Read. Act.

From the latest Quick Takes

Post-Sept. 11 priorities

News Item: ". . . In this field office in Washington, 32 prosecutors, investigators and a handful of FBI agents are spending millions of dollars to bring anti-obscenity cases to courthouses across the country for the first time in 10 years...."

News Item: ". . . The IRS wanted to add 80 more criminal investigators to keep terrorists from getting the money they need. That would cost about $12 million. But the White House did not include the $12 million in its 2005 budget. . . ."

I'm just saying. What is is with this Conservative obsession with sex?

Pardon me. Your bias is showing.

Lots of people have written about the abrupt escalation of violence in Iraq and debated Bremer's statement that we're totally in control of all but a bit of the county. Fair enough, but Bob Dreyfuss, writing on the same topic, offers us "Sunni rebels" and "Shiite fascists." I wonder which group he favors?

Posted by AnneZook at 01:13 PM | Comments (2)
Opinionation

Don't bother to look it up.

Marcus Gee thinks the UsofA is in trouble in Iraq not because we're acting like an empire, but because we're not.

David Clark gave me some food for thought. Is the "war on terror" going to succeed no matter how badly we botch it? (I dunno. He bases a lot of his beliefs on the weaknesses of religious fundamentalism but history says that when a bunch of rabid 'believers' find themselves on the losing side, they tend to ratchet up the body count. There's some mental quirk that makes them think they're proving their moral superiority by shedding an ocean of blood.)

Iraq. What. A. Mess. from Molly Ivins covers what a couple of major bloggers have to say about Iraq and now I'm blogging her column, which closes the circle.

Andy Rooney isn't talking about Richard Clark as much as he's talking about the book selling game. (And he's quite right about that "terror" versus "terrorism" thing. Drives me nuts.)

Seem like LA (or, at least the LATimes) is celebrating the guy who invented the laugh track.

We should pay attention to Richard C. Leone and Bernard Wasow are talking about the gas pump. Oil prices are going up here in part because the Bush Administration, while making speeches about how they supported a strong dollar, has allowed the dollar to fall.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)
April 06, 2004
Quick, mid-day blogaround

Derek Charles Catsam is over at Cliopatria talking about "mission creep" and Iraq.

And Juan Cole is all over what's happening there.

As are Zeyad and Riverbend, of course.

Check out Body and Soul for a thoughtful piece on "private security forces."

Someone took Chris Nelson's advice and volunteered to join the Selective Service board in their area.

Hal's right. That's a good speech from Graham. I might not agree with him 100%, but he's saying a lot that some of us need to be hearing.

And Jeff brings that "income tax" versus "salary tax" thing up again. It's good someone is still thinking about it.

Do you ever find yourself wonder if by counseling calm, you're one of the sane people or just too naïve to believe what people say is happening? I don't. Not really.

By the way, for my birthday, y'all can charter me a ride on this.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:10 PM | Comments (1)
Jobs

I am so confused.

From January 2001 - January 2004, or for the last three years, we've lost, what? 2,000,000 jobs?

Or is it 3,000,000?

And we're all happy, rightfully so, that we seem to have gained 308,000 jobs last month. And that job cut announcements declined in March. Only 68,034 of them.

So far, in April, Sun Microsystems is cutting 3,300 jobs

Bank of America is cutting 12,500 jobs

I'm just saying. It's only April 6, and a ten-second search already found almost 84,000 jobs being shed, during the period when we were "gaining" jobs and since.

For the record, I don't trust government numbers released two days after the end of the month, either. I predict we're going to see an 'adjustment' of that 308,000 number. Downwards.

(But maybe not until May, when everyone has stopped paying attention. Today, the Bush re-election machine needed a boost, so those numbers got leaked and then released almost before we'd torn the March page off of our calendars.)

Jobs are disappearing, no doubt about it. How much should we actually be worried? I went looking for easily digestible information, the way I frequently do.

The new cuts follow a wave of major downsizing announcements earlier in the month, including 3,400 jobs eliminated at the Wall Street brokerage firm Merrill Lynch and 14,000 at defense contractor Raytheon.

Layoffs are coming at a pace not seen since the early 1990s. According to a report by Challenger, Gray and Christmas, job cuts in the third quarter totaled 151,000, the highest number in five years. There were 100,000 jobs eliminated in the period between September 1 and October 8.

For the record, that last story was published in October, 1998. At the time, cuts were attributed to the huge wave of mergers and acquisitions going on. But it proves that losing jobs isn't new.

On the other hand, take a look at this, published November 4, 2003:

Planned layoffs at U.S. firms shot up to 171,874 jobs in October, from 76,506 in September, job placement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in their monthly job cut report. That was the highest amount since 176,010 job cuts were announced in October 2002.

Now I'm wondering if maybe we don’t always lose jobs in the fall or something? I skim the article, and sure enough:

Some economists cautioned that job losses in October are usually higher due to seasonal factors.

Okay, well, that's reassuring.

I guess.

Now I'm wondering how worrying that 2-3,000,000 really should be? And if it should worry us, then how reassuring should that 308,000 be?

If we lost over 190,000 jobs in November and December last year, is that about normal or is it scary?

Well, that depends on how you arrange the numbers. It's not scary if you compare it to the year before. There were fewer job cuts in 2003 (1,236,426) than 2002 (1,466,823).

Does that mean the Bush Administration is entitled to say things are getting better or is the fact that we lost 1,236,426 in 2003 so outrageous that being less outrageous than 2002 really just isn't good enough?

That is more than double the 553,044 job cuts averaged annually during the six-year period before the recession."

The answer is, "not good enough."

Now we're making progress.

Except.

The clear fact is that we were shedding jobs before Bush took office. Is that enough to get him off the hook for what's happened to the economy since? Would it have happened no matter who was in office and no matter what policies were enacted?

And how about those tax cuts? Does giving a handful of rich people help the economy? I really don't believe it does.

On the other hand, I have trouble seeing how giving a handful of rich people a tax cut can torpedo the economy a few months later, either.

Unless, of course, there's no way to pay for the tax cuts and government spending is suddenly squeezed so that the millions of people getting one or another kind of government benefit, or collecting a paycheck from the government, start getting the wobbles…well, that could torpedo the economy very quickly.

is that what we're seeing?

Is there any way to know?

This is why the average person on the street runs away from you when you try to discuss the economy. This is why I run away when anyone tries to discuss the economy.

In my next life, I'm going to be an economist or a weather forecaster. Neither of them can really be held responsible if they're completely wrong. I need a job with a 50% or better fudge-factor built in.

In the meantime, here's a site that seems to deal mostly in numbers over the long term. I don't know if they're any more accurate than anyone else, but at least there's little debate over what the numbers were once a few years have passed.

I'm sure the Right will see this site as liberal propaganda, based on the policies of the site's sponsors, but you can't make everyone happy. (There's a telltale concern, on the EPI site, with low-income citizens. You don't often see from conservative think-tanks.)

Still. They provided nice, tidy, easy to read graphs, so I like them.

I think I'll go look for weird news stories instead. They don't hurt my brain as much. (Well, I have issues around creating new ways to market junk food to kids, but those create a different kind of pain.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)
Little to say

It's not that I don't care about the people dying in Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq. I totally care. I don't have anything helpful to say, though.

I've said all along that now we're in Iraq, we can't leave until there's a decent chance that ordinary people will be able to lead safe, secure lives. I still believe that.

And yet…there's a sort of glass houses thing going on in my mind.

There's an odd feeling to reading stories where people are rioting, presumably in the cause of freedom, then turning to domestic news and reading about people rioting because their team won some ball game.

This country still needs a fair amount of work itself, that's all I'm saying.

Sometimes it's a lot easier to contemplate someone else's problems. There's a pleasant sense that you have no responsibility for making changes halfway around the world.

It works, too. Unless you remember that Iraq is halfway round the world.

Elsewhere, David Brooks reaches for humor and achieves funny.

It just won't be Morning Edition if it's not Bob Edwards.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)
Speaking of....

Home-grown terrorists.

Does it seem to anyone but me that a disproportionate number of them are gathered in Texas these days?

Dynamite strewn on the roads. Sheesh. I wonder who it is and what they're planning?

Posted by AnneZook at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)
April 05, 2004
Monday's Land O'Blog

I dunno if this is true, but I doubt it. (Link via Avedon Carol.)

Or maybe I don't doubt it, but I just distrust this site's info because it has that peculiar aura I associate with conspiracy-theorists? Amateur design with too many colors and fonts and exclamation points always strikes me as hysterical.

I don't doubt there are some bad apples in the political basket, of course. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear of incidents of vote-tampering.

But systematic, wide-spread fraud? They'd have to be crazy. That kind of thing is too easy to detect.

I'll admit that the fact that of all of these "upsets" we've seen discussed over the last year, it strikes me as peculiar that not one surprise vote outcome has been in favor of a Democrat. I suppose it's not out of the question that specific races were targeted for (ahem) special attention.

I'm not saying that's the case and I'm not even sure we've seen enough "surprises" to be statistically significant but that's not really the point.

The last thing any election/vote in this country needs is even the appearance of fraud and anything that causes even more voters in this country to believe that their vote won't be counted and doesn't matter, is a bad, bad, thing. Paper ballots people. We need paper ballots.

James at Outside the Beltway adds to the growing body of opinion saying that the Bush Administration is oddly (he says, "remarkably") reluctant to admit an error, and that this trait is doing them damage.

Are we watching the End Game In Iraq?

Sunday was bad.

Alterman says, We Told You So.

Tom Englehardt discusses Guantanamo, Iraq, and, well, it's hard to know what to call it. The evolution of our system of justice, maybe? I dunno. I haven't had time to properly digest what he says, but you should read it.

Digby and some commentors take on the question of the status of 'contract security workers.'

Andrew Olmsted returns to the story about UsofA soldiers forcing Iraqis to jump into a river.

Edward at Obsidian Wings says we're not looking closely enough at the U.N.'s "Oil For Food" program.

David at Orcinus discusses how the white-supremacists helped elect a Democrat to the Louisiana governor's office, proving that vote-splitting works both ways.

JaneGalt (Asymmetrical Information) is going to be moving. In the meantime, Mindless H. Dreck offers an interesting post about Puritans, marriage, and porn.

Over at Cliopatria, Ralph Luker on The Blog, a post that's started some discussion.

If you read Gary Farber, you already know he was "engaged in apodyopsis after sadly and involuntarily being colposinquanonic, which resulted in exsibilation, but also to sphallolalia." And a lot of other things.

Hey, I missed this earlier. Gotta love their hypocrisy. I mean, you have to wonder why one liberal group is so threatening to democracy if, as Jerry says, there are at least 350 right-wing organizations out pushing for Bush?

(Googlebomb moment. Jew.)

And, via Elayne, today's good grief moment.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)
Ethics and Land Mines and Voting and Stuff

Another story of a lapse in journalistic ethics.

I don't think a smarter land mine is really going to fix the objections people have with land mines. As the world becomes ever-more computerized, I foresee ever-more danger that bombs activated by electronic signals could be activated by someone's toaster.

Okay, that's an exaggeration. But there's no way to guarantee accidental activation won't take place, triggered by someone's new security system or by the accidental crossing of electronic signals.

And there's no way to guarantee terrorists won't figure out how to activate someone else's minefield.

Also? Let's not miss the blackmail potential inherent in being able to call someone up and casually inform them that they're sitting on a minefield and if they don't behave in a way that makes me happy, I'll hit the switch. "I" could be a terrorist and I could be a 'legitimate' government, but it's blackmail either way.

What's going on in Slovenia?

Voters in Slovenia have rejected plans to restore rights stripped from ethnic minorities after the country's independence from Yugoslavia.

Around 18,000 people were removed from population records and lost all their residency rights.

Most of them were nationals of other former Yugoslav republics.

That's harsh.

On the other hand, I'm starting to wonder if voting is the best way to decide some issues. (I'm on slippery ground here, I know.)

Initial results from the state electoral commission showed 94% of those who voted rejected the law. Only 4% voted in favour.

That's a pretty sweeping majority, but it's less impressive when you read the next sentence.

Turnout was 31%.

So of the 31% of the population who cared enough about the issue to come out and vote, mostly it was the xenophobia and racists who cared? Are we to assume this is a fair representation of Slovenia's mindset?

Place-holding. It's an odd little story, but I can't honestly say I see anything wrong with the practice. I find it a bit hard to view it (as described) as some of kind proof of the evil power of wealth. I'd find it easier to sympathize with this as proof that we need some serious alterations in the way our government conducts its business, but that wasn't really the point of the article.

William Safire thinks we're all bogged down in ancient history, trying to figure out what happened in 2001, and should relegate those events to the history books alongside FDR and Pearl Harbor. William Safire, as I believe I've said before, can be a bit of a twerp sometimes. (I have no patience with people who don't think how we got where we are matters or with people who think anything more than a month old is ancient history.)

And I'm no military research and spending expert, so I can't tell. Are we spending $300 million a plane for a fleet of jets to meet a need that no longer exists? I'm not immediately convinced by the news that we have "old" planes that can do the job. How well do they do it and as those planes age, what will it cost us to build new ones like them and will they meet future needs or are the planned planes more flexible that way?

Molly Ivins mentions some things that matter to me. Like the lack of attention paid during a campaign to states not "in play." As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I support split electoral votes.

If a state's voters vote 60% for one presidential candidate and 40% for a different presidential candidate, then I think that state's electoral votes should reflect the split. Each makes its own decision about this and I wish Coloradans would give the issue some consideration. (Molly discusses a few other matters as well.)

And, while we're in Texas, say 'howdy' to Kinky Friedman who is planning to run for governor on a platform that's an odd mixture of the admirable and the absurd. Mostly the latter.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)