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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

January 14, 2005
A Timid Protest

I never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but Josh Marshall is wrong.

Representatives waiting to protest Bush's plan for Social Security are absolutely doing the right thing in holding off any comments until an actual plan is made public.

Anyone who thinks the Bush White House wouldn't release bogus information in an effort to discredit protestors in advance is just delusional. I can easily picture the Bush Administration leaking a plan to dismantle the program by next year, riding out the protests, then reassuring the country that they only actually plan to dismantle the program by 2010, for pete's sake and just look at how those Evil Libruls do lie about things.

Later note....

I wrote to Mr. Marshall to protest him advocating that Democrats do any such silly thing and he clarified his position for me.

He doesn't believe Dems should respond to any of the leaks or rumors of specific proposals that are showing up in the national press...he thinks Dems should start now protesting against Bush's core concept, that Social Security must be privatized in order to "save" it.

And he's absolutely right about that. Congressional Dems (well, Democrats all over the county) need to start speaking out against that idea now. Loudly and clearly. By waiting to say anything until they see the specific proposal, Congressional Democrats are, once again, allowing the Bush Administration to set the terms of the debate and to get the first word in.

They're allowing the Bush Administration to make their lies "common knowledge" and we all know how hard it is to make someone who isn't really paying attention anyhow understand that "common knowledge" doesn't equal truth.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)
We Deserve Better From Us

Bert was a nice man. He was a funny man. He had a carefully made sign to notify people passing by that he was collecting money to build a rocket that would take him to the moon. He was fed up with George Bush, so he was leaving the planet.

Every day we used to have a chat when I went for my morning coffee. We'd talk about the progress he was making on the engine and about how when he got to the moon, he was going to be president and then things would be better, and then I'd give him a dollar toward the project.

I don't know how Bert wound up panhandling on street corners...maybe he had a drinking problem or something, you can't tell these things from a few seconds of conversation with someone as you wait for a green light, but I know that Bert was a nice man whose family couldn't take care of him.

So, Bert took care of himself. Bert had a job. His job was standing on that street corner every day, collecting enough change to buy him a couple of meals. And it was hard work. He was there in the rain and the snow. He was there when it was 98 in the shade and he was there when the wind chill was ten below zero.

But Bert didn't have anywhere to go at night, when the cars stopped passing and the rest of us were tucked up under blankets in our centrally heated houses. He didn't have anywhere to go when it snowed or when the temperature dropped to five degrees.

Our society doesn't provide these things. We don't value people who can't contribute to the corporate bottom line. If you can't hold down a 9-5 job so that you can shop at WhateverMart and keep money cycling into the corporate coffers, you're of no use to us.

One night Bert went to sleep in the shelter of a concrete retaining wall and then Bert died.

And I am angry.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:44 PM | Comments (2)
Ignorance Rules Us All

What I can't quite figure out is why the Right-wing hates America so much? I mean, I think it's justifiable to say that short of an outright dictatorship, there's no way Junior could have risen to the #1 public office in any other country in the world but this one, so he should be grateful to this country, but he doesn't seem to be.

Nor do any of the rest of that bunch seem to be interested in preserving this country.

On the contrary, they're attempting to dismantle it with almost indecent haste. (Perhaps they suspect their days are numbered.) If they have their way, in fact, they United States of America will cease to exist.

We will become, instead, a loosely affiliated conglomeration of near-independent states, linked only by a highway system and an army. A sort of Western version of the USSR as it disintegrated.

This seems to be what the Right-wingnuts have in mind...but I'm not sure why.

It's a serious question.

It was about three years ago that I started trying to "forecast" or at least make a logical extrapolation of the outcome of the Right-wingnuts stated desires...and no matter how I rearrange the information, that's how it always ends. With the USofA disintegrating into a neighborhood of squabbling nationettes.

And I can't quite figure out how they think that's in some way preferable to being the richest, strongest nation on the planet, you know?

(Granted...if I thought there was any danger of this bunch remaining in power for any length of time, I'd be the first one lobbying to break up the country on the theory that if they all go back to Texas or wherever, they'll be a lot less danger to the world than they are with the weight of the USofA armed forces and economy behind them.)

Maybe all of this is because their entire theory of governance is predicated on the understanding that none of them will ever suffer the consequences of their own policies. ?

There's no chance, for instance that Junior will ever be living on Medicare and Social Security, so why not dismantle the programs? People who rely on the money...well, they should have had the sense to be born into a wealthier family.

There's no chance, for instance, that anyone named Cheney or Bush will ever find himself in lifetime detention as a "terror suspect" because of his (documented) dealings with Middle East 'terrorists', so why not enact and enforce legislation that allows the government to imprison innocent bystanders on less "proof" than there exists to identify Grandaddy Bush as a Nazi sympathizer?

There's no chance, for instance, that any Bush or Cheney kid will wind up going to a public school in some inner city, so why bother to fund education in those icky places?

There's no chance, for instance, that anyone named DeLay or Cheney or Bush will wind up living in some poor neighborhood with substandard public housing built on a toxic waste dump, so what's the point of requiring all of those luscious campaign donors to waste millions of dollars cleaning up after themselves?

Maybe that's it. They're dismantling this country because there's no chance any of them will ever have to live in it.

They simply can't be brought to understand that millions of people are living in poverty without knowing for sure when their next meal will be arriving? They don't believe that many people make a daily decision between rent and food? They can't comprehend that subsidized public transportation makes the difference for thousands in being able to hold down a job? They are able to calculate the "intolerable burden" to corporations of a fifteen-cent minimum wage increase but entirely blind to the very burden of a five percent payroll withholding increase? They see more good being done by handing back a million dollars in tax cuts to a man who already has seven-hundred and fifty million dollars than they do in handing fifty dollars to someone who has nothing?

I continue to wonder what planet these people are from.

I was not raised in poverty, okay? I never wondered if there would be food on the table or a roof over my head. I never lacked for clothes or toys or anything else when I was growing up.

And yet...I don't find it impossible to understand that there are people who do lack things. I understand the desperate desire to have a meal and a bed to sleep in, both in the same day. I can empathize with the despair that comes from looking around at a neighborhood soaked in violence and failure and to know there is no escape. I have no problem envisioning that most of the people living in poverty in this country long for the ability to stand on their own two feet, support themselves and their families, and look everyone else in the eye as an equal.

I understand there are those who are disadvantaged not through any fault or failure of their own, but because the social and economic structure of this country mandates that anyone who falls X% behind the curve will never be given the opportunity to catch up.

It's a pity that those with the power to make changes can't see these thing.

Maybe I needed a longer hiatus.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:32 AM | Comments (3)
January 13, 2005
Final: D-

The Bush Administration has failed, miserably, at every, single thing they've tried. They're going to continue to fail.

They won't be permitted to dismantle Social Security, moves are already afoot to fix the mess they're trying to make of Medicare, and across the country protests are rising against the idiocy of the No Poor Child Gets A Decent Education legislation.

And yet...they have managed to inflict serious damage.

Afghanistan is fighting a civil war against the warlords we put into power and Iraq is turning into a decades-long disaster.

Countries with just a fraction of our wealth are committing twice as much aid to the tsunami victims as we are and in the time it took you to read this sentence, children died all over the world for the lack of the help we could have offered without any of us making the tiniest personal sacrifice. Some of those children live in your town.

We've made enemies all over the world and Europe is, even as we speak, moving to push the USofA away from center-stage internationally because no one wants us in their half of the playground any more.

The future is global and we're not going to be a part of it.

USofA corporations are desperate for new markets that won't materialize because the "consumers" they need are dying of starvation. We won't be able to balance our trade deficit because the countries that might have bought from us, pouring money into our coffers, won't be able to afford the plane fare to show up at the bargaining table. We won't be able to maintain, much less improve, our own standard of living because it's predicated on ever-expanding markets for our products and people living in countries we don't already sell to are too busy dying to shop.

We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Internationally? Torture, murder, the building of new permanent "internment" camps (which, with the added bonus of ongoing torture, should probably be named what they are...concentration camps), unprovoked invasion of non-aggressive countries (They looked at us funny! Ready, aim, fire!), use of lies and forged documents to try and discredit other governments, the list goes on.

Domestically? The Right is continuing its assault on education, healthcare, retirement benefits, clean air and water, and the right to vote. Slashing funding for the EPA even as a report comes out that the Department of Defense may be a major polluter. Cutting FDA funding to the bone even as more and more reports come out detailing the potentially disastrous contaminations of our food supply and the life-threatening side-effects of "approved" medications. This Administration's idea of "fiscal responsibility" is to change Social Security from a program with about 1.5% overhead costs to one with about 20% overhead costs, while removing safeguards that insure the money will be there when the investor retires. Layers of useless and ineffective legislation are sinking the already foundering ship of public education. Voting reform is...don't even get me started.

We're quite a piece of work these days, aren't we?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)
January 12, 2005
Pleasing Everyone (and no one)

On the off chance anyone stops by here, I should point out that it's been four months since I put myself on hiatus because I was getting terminally bad-tempered and unable to look at issues with any degree of balance.

My attitude toward the extremist wing-nuts incomprehensibly in power in this country was getting...well, I was starting to use a lot of swear-words and think longingly of McCarthyite tactics like reopening Alcatraz and stuffing them all in there. So I decided to take a break.

In retrospect, allowing all of that bile to accumulate, with no regular venting, may not have been a good solution.

Okay, to please those on the Right, more specifically those wing-nuts on the Right who think no one on the Left appreciates them? Let's celebrate the personal freedoms being safeguarded by the Right.

After decades of Right-wing assault EPA, you'll be pleased to know that the only part of government you approve of, the bit that sprays white phosphorous and napalm on unprotected countries around the world and persecutes USofA citizens, has been doing a bit of polluting here at home. You might want to exercise your freedom to invest in some home-based water and food purifying equipment. Pricey, but it might be worth it, if you ever want Johnny to read. (If not, there's plenty of muck-raking, slime-based wing-nut talk radio for Johnny to learn his bigotry from.)

Those of you who think the one-half of one percent or whatever grand sum it is that the USofA contributes from it's GDP to world aid annually is just too much money? You'll be happy to read yet another report about how the Bush Administration's inadequate promise of $15M (later raised to $35M and then $350M in an disgusting display of Public Relations Poker) is unlikely to be delivered on. After all, governments lie about aid all the time. And looking at the way the current crop of right-wing mouth-breathers have failed to decently fund any aid program in existence over the last four years, domestic or international, I don't think you have to worry that anyone's going to nick your paycheck for an additional 1 cent a year for something stupid like food and medicine for people who don't have access to such luxuries, even if they had the money to pay for them.

You know what? If anyone tells you the Right is getting it wrong these days? You just ignore them, okay? Ignore people like those whiny Iraqis who say that being liberated by the USofA is worse than living under Saddam Hussein. Some people don't know how to appreciate democracy.

(And, hey, if you find it hard to ignore such things, why not focus on that pretty picture of alleged prisoner abuse being sort of like making a pile of nekkid cheerleaders? Because we've all noticed that, aside from slaughtering tens of thousands of civilians, nothing makes the Right-wing happy like obsessing over sex and once you get past any little scruples about fantasizing about under-age girls...well, that picture just makes that whole nasty Iraqi problem go away, doesn't it?)

And, finally, for those anti-feminists who are also infesting the right-wing these days, here's a link to make your frightened little hearts glad. Women? No make-up? No job.. A few more rulings like this and you he-men will be back where you belong...on the top of the heap of frightened, ignorant, and inadequate trolls!

And! Once you remove the wimmin from the work-force, or get them back scrubbing floors and answering phones, it won't be nearly as obvious that you're the scrapings of the employment garbage heap and that, after all, is what you're after, isn't it? You actually know you don't have the brains and ability to be a success, so you want to lower the bar so you at least look more successful, right?

Only losers grade on a curve, boys. And not matter how you distort the curve, you're still going to be losers.

And that's pretty much all I have to say to you.

Let us look over toward the Left. Plenty of good and bad there. The 'bad' seems to be the whipped cream on the Liberal Sundae these days, though. You guys have it right. You know what you want...there's no inability to define or articulate the issues. Your problem? You got disgusted with the kind of person climbing to the top of the "leadership" heap and you turned your back on the problem. You should have been throwing rotten tomatoes, sending letters, and making phone calls.

FOIAs have been filed to find the "other Armstrongs" illegally working in the pay of the USofA government to tell lies about boost Administration policies. Drop the Democratic Party leadership a note and tell them that we want to belong to a party that could, itself, survive such an investigation.

In some places workers still have rights. It's the 21st century and people are still having to fight for the right to work in reasonably safe conditions. Drop the Democratic Party leadership a note and tell them labor rights aren't quite the done deal they seem to be assuming, and remind them that organized labor has been the backbone of the Democratic Party for many years.

The unjustifiable and irrational tyranny of mandatory sentencing rules is at an end. Drop the Democratic Party leadership a note and tell them that we don't want more prisons, we want a better way to deal with crime and rehabilitation. While you're at it, tell them that someone arrested for an ounce of powdered cocaine should suffer the same penalty as someone arrested for holding an ounce of crack cocaine. Ask them to remove these little exemptions that protect the rich and victimize the poor.

You might think it's too little, too late, but it's not. Maybe it's only in response to the public outcry, but as long as pharmaceutical corporations own a large chunk of the majority of the asses on seats in Congress, getting any decent drug pricing is a miracle. (Of course, it remains to be seen just what kind of cuts we'll be seeing. Drop the Democratic Party leadership a note and tell them we'd rather they didn't continue to sell their asses to corporations already enjoying tens of billions of dollars worth of financial assistance from the USofA government.

If you can't be convinced that individual action will get results, find a group of like-minded individuals to join up with.

Moveon.org is still a viable alternative political movement. TrueMajority.org is a good anti-war/environmental group to investigate.

For those beginning to realize that their "inalienable rights" just might be under attack, sign the pledge. The ACLU has been around for a lot of years and they've been fighting for all our rights for all of that time.

And, above all? Never, never, never send any kind of check or donation to any political organization without including a letter. Five dollars? Ten dollars? Fifty dollars? Doesn't matter. Always include a letter pointing out specifically what you want your party or organization to believe in, stand for, work for, and achieve. I guarantee you if one million people send $5 each and each of them says that "healthcare for the uninsured" is a priority, that issue will rise to the top of the Democratic Party's Issue Heap before the next press conference.

If you have five issues you care about, write five checks. Include a separate issue with each check.

If you don't write so much as a postcard...then keep your mouth shut. Because I'm tired of listening to people bitch that the "Democratic Party" doesn't stand for what they want it to stand for. If you want them to stand for something, try telling them. Because this whole "let them read my mind" approach just isn't working, okay?

I'm disgusted with you.

And for people from both sides of the political spectrum, join FairVote. They're already working toward the next elections. (Yes, they do happen more than once every four years.) An honest, open, verifiable, and transparent election process Is. Not. A. Partisan. Issue.

Next Up: The Right Is Wrong or What This Country Needs Is A Real Liberal Bias.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
It was all a lie

But we knew that, didn't we?

U.S. ends search for WMD in Iraq

The Iraq Survey Group report said that Iraq's WMD program was essentially destroyed in 1991 and Saddam ended the country's nuclear program after the 1991 Gulf War.

Tens of thousands of people died for this lie. And the world just watches.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)