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February 12, 2005
News, Hard and Soft

So....what's happening on a Saturday?

It seems that if we want to understand the Bush Administration, we have to read Natan Sharansky's book. If Condi Rice was quoting it, it must be the approved Manual Of Style for the White House.

I didn't read the review closely, but skimming down the page, one line did stand out in defense of this theory.

The author shies away from hard questions.

That sounds familiar, doesn't it?

And then, the next paragraph.

He also offers neat formulas that seem a little pat. "When it comes to promoting democracy and human rights across the globe, the values and interests of the free world are one and the same," he writes. Cut to President Bush in his Inaugural Address last month: "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world. America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one."


The Nation's blogs are usually good reading. Yesterday's Daily Outrage was particularly good.

Editor and Publisher has an interview with "Gannon" up wherein the man admits nothing. I still think y'all are missing the point. The man is only half the story. The so-called "news organization" that employed him is also important. Still, the coverage goes on.

Seems like farmers in the tiny but unbelievably picturesque country of Liechtenstein have been told to stop letting their cows toke up during dinner. (Okay, joke there.)

Via TomPaine.com, I've bookmarked How To Talk To A Conservative for later reading.

And now, It's a beautifully sunny day, so 'm going out to Have A Life.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)
February 11, 2005

Hallburton must be thanking its checkbook lucky stars that it has friends in the White House these days. (Not only that, but the DoD changed their minds and they're going to keep paying Halliburton in spite of the multiple reports of money squandered, invoices inflated, and other signs of gross mismanagement in Iraq.)

From ThePoorMan, I got to this and saw:

Department of Justice

State Criminal Alien Assistance Program      Status: Results Not Demonstrated

Not demonstrated? The way I understand it, the state of...either Arizona or New Mexico, all on its ownsome was asked to hold (without due process) about 3000 men who had the misfortune to have brown skins after 9/11.

Making us all safe from...whatever it was arresting innocent bystanders was supposed to make us safe from.

Anyhow, I'd say that's a darned successful program, wouldn't you?

Or maybe the success of the program is "not demonstrated" since the state in question, getting tired of waiting, submitted another invoice here recently, demanding that the Bush Administration pay up for the costs? Over a hundred million, if memory serves, is still outstanding.

Still. The 2005 budget figure inches upward, so they won't be starved for money for paying for the incarceration of thousands of people who haven't committed any crimes.

And what's this all about:

Department of State

Non-Security Based Capital Construction Program       Status: Effective

      (2004 "actual" funding) 64       (2005 "enacted" funding) zip

Okay...so this program is effective...so Bush erased the funding for it? We dig deeper...and find there's a very similar program administered by the DoD. So, we strip power and authority from State and hand it to the men with the missiles.

Of course.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Mission and Science Measurement Technology       Status: Moderately Effective

      (2004 "actual" funding) 459       (2005 "enacted" funding) zip

Now I gotta go figure out what that program was.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

But...I was just kidding!

Who knew this would inspire someone with power to actually stand up and say, Hey?

The nub:

Karl Frisch, a spokesman for Ms. Slaughter, said: "This is a guy who could not get credentialed by the House or the Senate press galleries, and yet managed to get into the White House and question the president" and have access to a top-secret document.

That's quite a nubbly nub, as such things so. Very...to the point.

I'm nearly speechless, so unused am I to the sight of our elected officials calling a lie a lie.

Gosh...maybe the next thing we know, people of high moral values all over the country might stand up and mention, very politely, that they'd just as soon not go down in history as the generation who gave the okey-dokey to torture.

(At least, those focusing on the whole democracy/rule of law/Geneva Conventions stuff might. The wingnuts, of course, are still too busy stroking each other into a frenzy with descriptions of what other people do in bed to worry about what crimes their government commits behind the scenes.)

(Okay. That was sort of bitter, but I have a headache today and I am just so not in the mood. Seems like every site I wind up at is talking about gay marriage and how evil everyone things it is, and I'm really sick of people who are so busy trying to legislate against love that they don't have the time, interest, or energy to legislate against anything worth eradicating.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)
A Sickly TGIF

You might think I'm exaggerating but I'm not. Reading this morning's headlines made me feel sick.

We torture people and we kidnap and export civilians of our own and other nations to countries that torture them. Why is this not a bigger scandal? Why are there not howls of outrage coming from every part of this country?

The poorly designed Medicare drug "benefit", actually designed as a give-away to pharmaceutical companies, that didn't allow for negotiating discounts on drug prices, originally advertised at $400B and raised to $500+B a couple of months later is now revealed to have a price tag of over a trillion. And yet, some people insist upon demanding that we believe this Administration's version of the numbers surrounding Social Security?

To soothe the pain, some classic Achenbach.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)
February 10, 2005
It's What You Get

This is what happens when you think "truth" and "ethics" are just words to toss around in campaign speeches.

This is what you get when you start calling names like "Axis of Evil."

When you have a huge undersea earthquake that spawns a tsunami? You get huge ruptures in the seabed.

In other news, it looks like Russia can't wait to take over our spot as Saudi Arabia's favorite arms dealer.

Anyone who's getting within half a mile of the White House or one of its two primary occupants these days, gets vetted fifteen ways from Sunday. So don't tell me that the White House didn't know exactly who 'Gannon' was, 'cause I ain't likely to believe it.

(Heck, a friend of mine was scheduled to be in the same building as His Inarticulacy a while back and had to go through SS screening. And for the last four months of '04, she was subject to an endless spam of begging letters from the Republican Party, all addressing her warmly as a "supporter.")

The Wal-Martization of the world continues as the corporation itself steamrolls over workers.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)
February 09, 2005
Sniff. Sniff.

Unknown "journalist" and White House under fire for inexplicable favoritism suggesting questionable secret ties.

Ask yourself...who benefits from soft-ball questions tossed to the White House press secretary to deflect tough-to-answer questions?

Journalist's "employer" then linked to leaked Valerie Plame memo.

Ask yourself, who benefits from attempts to discredit an Administration critic by exposing his wife to potential danger?*

Journalist's "employer" subsequently revealed to be wholly-owned mouthpiece of GOP USA.

Ask yourself...no, that one's already a curve-buster.

Ask yourself, what did the President know and when did he know it? (Better yet, ask yourself where Karl Rove was at the time. I mean, because, does the President know anything? At all?)

Sniff. Sniff. Is that a gun I smell smoking? It's...it's...it's TalonGate!

Heh. Heh.


* Also? Forget those shrill but bogus cries of national security! some people have been tossing around for the past three years and really think. What's more of a danger to this country? Someone who says they think invading Iraq is a bad idea...or someone who, for political gain, reveals the name of a CIA agent to the world at large?


The thing is, you see, that "rule of law" actually works only so long as people believe in it. If we had the misfortune to have a president who didn't think there was anything wrong with looking people in the eye and lying to them, then he and his Administration would totally get away with stuff like this.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:45 PM | Comments (4)
February 08, 2005
It's Good To Be Imperial

In the "don't read too fast or you'll miss it" category, in MoJo blog entry about election turnout in Iraq:

Today we set out first to the Ministry of Agriculture to find out more about concerns surrounding CPA Order 81, which forces upon Iraqi farmers U.S.-style seed patent law and prohibits them from saving seeds from one season's crop for planting the next (which is how farming has long been done in Iraq).

Everyone who thinks this means Iraqi companies selling Iraq seed are getting protection, raise your hands.

Everyone who thinks this is another sellout of a piece of Iraq to corporate USofA interests, take a drink.

And then we find, in a discussion of public opinion polling in Iraq:

Dulaimie himself was approached by the International Republican Institute, which conducts many of the polls used by the Bush Administration, but said his meetings with them had been a waste of time.

And I find myself wondering just who is paying for this private, Republican Institute to run these polls? Is this another of the PR companies the Bush Administration is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on while saying we can't afford healthcare?


"They regard Iraq as a model for the region. And I told them, that's just propaganda. If you want to build Iraq, you should introduce a plan, not propaganda."

Pardon me if I think it's a bad, bad, bad idea for a polling company to head into a poll with their own set of beliefs they'd like to see confirmed, okay?

(I know...that's a lot of peevishness from one blog entry, but really. I'm aggravated that the USofA major media seems to have declared the Iraqi elections "a huge success" and then moved on. Even the daily bombings have been reduced to sidebar status. And I'm almost unable to find any discussion in any USofA media outlet about the laws we imposed on Iraq and the ones we're hoping to make stick.)

Let's move on....

Democracy in Iraq. It takes more than the suspect, incomplete polls we've seen so far to create democracy.

Checking Tobias's column today, we see the Bush Administration continuing to do their part to bankrupt Social Security by spending the surplus that's supposed to fund the future of the program.

I don't know about you, but I object. Money that's supposed to fund my basic retirement being stripped from my paycheck and used for bombs and bullets? I so totally object.

For the record, I still find myself expecting Them to be reasonable. I keep trying to find reasonable and believable explanations for the things they do. I'm not having a lot of success, but I'm trying.

Maybe there's a reason. Via Josh Marshall, I read down to the end of the article and read:

Ruben Burks, secretary-treasurer for the Alliance for Retired Americans, said a program that hasn't missed a payment in 70 years should be preserved.

"Who wants to gamble on a program that is so vital," he said.

Levin said he hopes that Bush is challenged by the audience members in Detroit to reveal the true costs of his plans.

Detroit Economic Club officials said Monday the traditional question and answer period after the speech has been dropped for Bush's visit.

Do you remember the days when accountability and responsibility were considered vital components of a democratic government?

Me, neither.

I think I'll buy a new book.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:40 PM | Comments (2)
Linkless Blogging

Okay, so, last night I'm driving home and listening to NPR and they're interviewing some conservative, I've already forgotten who, on Bush's budget and he's defending the massive cuts in domestic programs. And he says he can defend this budget to his constituents because he'll just tell them that the same way they, the constituents, "take care of your own house" the government has to take care if its fiscal house.

And I'm thinking...I don't know a lot of people who take the money needed for their aged relatives or healthcare for their kids or housing assistance for their poorer relatives, and give it to their rich friends.

So, you know, lying right from the start.

And then I'm listening to the list of programs getting massive cuts and those not.

Like...crop subsidies, which are taking a reported 30% hit. And I'm wondering if all those 'little people' in Red farming communities around the country are hearing this. The report says, "farms and ranches" and I know the ranching community has been a big Bush-booster over the past four years. They came out strong for him in November. I wonder if they're liking the bargain they got?

(I'm also wondering just where these subsidy cuts are coming in? Are they cutting tobacco subsidies? Because I wouldn't mind that, but my understanding is that the cuts are across the board, on pretty much all crops.)

I'm hearing a sound-bite of Bush saying he's cutting funding for programs that don't work and he thinks the people affected will understand because, after all, if something doesn't work, you have to start asking yourself, why something doesn't work.

He doesn't sound any smarter as time goes on, does he? (Note: I did a bit of casual searching this morning and I see the quote was cleaned up for the print media. If the so-called liberal media is afraid to do anything else, the least they can do is to report exactly what the man says and let people hear for themselves, okay?)

The report also said that the White House announced that the programs getting cuts were those that weren't successful. Which isn't true, or that mess of "Homeland Security" wouldn't be getting a boost. (But the part of it that beefs up local security forces, actual first-responders in communities, that's getting a cut.)

And the invasion of Iraq? Well...maybe he was telling the truth there. He put no money in the budget for that. (Seriously...that's just dishonest.)

But what about the Hubble telescope? A success by anyone's standards, but it's getting nothing.

There's stuff in there about wholesale power rates. The bottom line is that rural communities will almost certainly take a big hit. Once again, I find myself wondering if those who were deluded into voting for Bush are feeling any trepidation right about now?

And then there's Amtrak, again. Subsidized public transportation is always a big target for those who don't need it.

And, of course, education. Vocational training, after-school programs, and other things are getting cut. Testing isn't exactly getting cut. Schools will get some money for whatever programs they've created to teach children to test out of the No Child Needs An Education requirements. Not so much for actually teaching them things that will help them get jobs and support themselves in the future.

Programs to cut or monitor environmental pollution, especially water pollution? Cuts.

Medicaid? Cuts.

Oh, and let's not forget healthcare for veterans. Those returning from Iraq will no doubt be pleased to discover that they're going to have to pay more for their healthcare. (No movement on that proposal to increase the death benefit for soldiers killed in action, though. Soldiers aren't a Bush priority.)

And that's all I have time for. I'm really frantically busy at the office this week (no time for proofreading, I hope this isn't full of weird typos), but I have to say I agree with Nancy Pelosi's first response to this so-called "budget proposal." This is a hoax.

Has to be.

I mean, not even the people who took a projected massive budget surplus, collected from the payroll taxes of working people and handed it to the rich as a reward for owning stock would really shaft their actual voting base this way, right?

Posted by AnneZook at 08:53 AM | Comments (0)