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March 12, 2005
Stats Report

I'm at peace with the fact that I'm probably the only person who finds these entertaining.

First, either I've become astonishingly popular in the EU, or that's where all the spam has been coming from. Hits from the EU are, for the first time, outpacing hits from the US. By about 20%, in fact.

(I am, as always, skeptical about the numerical portion of the stats page. I cannot fathom that I'm as popular in Romania as this program suggests.

But then, I tend to distrust the numbers in statistics reports, anyhow. I mean, any report that suggests this blog is getting 40,000+ "hits" a month, is patently absurd. Undoubtedly this has much to do with those spam pings, but now that I'm all Blacklist-enabled, I expect to see the numbers coming closer to reality.)

Most popular page? A book discussion. The New Politics of Consumption (by Juliet Schor). (But why? Did some teacher assign this as homework recently? No. Politics of Consumption wasn't number one on the search list. In fact, it looks as though the hits are coming in via permalink. But almost 4,000 of them? What's up with that? So many things in life are a mystery to me....)

Search phrases! Always my favorite.

1. As always, the books stay near the tops 0f the referral lists. "True Believer" was this month's hottest. (I hate to think of the disappointment of those searchers.) (Least popular book searched? It Looks Like A President. Y'all are missing a bet. It's short, for those of you with little time. And it was hysterically funny in that "painfully true" sort of way.)

2. I supposed I've probably blogged about the KKK and "hate speech" although possibly not together. Always a good topic to consider, though.

3. "Wouter Bassoon" continues to be a top seller on the search list. (Last month, Zena Mahlangu topped the list. She does, frequently.)

4. I have no idea what "pongamia pinnata" is much less why someone would want to find "research" on it.

5. Another offering was, "what is budget and what is it saying to you" and I have to continue to insist that if your search query is incomprehensible to a human being, you probably don't have it phrased right for a computer program.

6. And to the person searching for, "write a memo to all the staff informing them of the exercise regime which begin on the 20 of December"? You're asking for a lot. Write your own memos.

7. Another wanderer in the wilderness asks us plaintively, " how do you get rid of the habit of saying just kidding?????//" First, how do you pronounce "//"? (Or, for that matter, "?????"?) Second? There's no magic. Just stop saying it. Ask a friend to tell you every time they hear it come out of your mouth. (Preferably a friend you'd like to lose, as you're going to become very annoyed with them very shortly.)

8. Dear "hmmm understands": See (5) above.

9. In the category of Most Intriguing Search Phrase, we have: "conservatism is incompatible with democracy prosperity and civilization in general. it is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world."

10. In the category of Most Mysterious, we have a tie between "edean amador" and "harbinger realignment"

11. And, finally, to the person who searched for, " sexy zook"? Thank you.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:36 PM | Comments (1)
March 11, 2005
Late-afternoon Links

Modern warfare.

I called. A bunch of other people must have done the same. I'd barely started talking before I was interrupted with the information that they would pass along my request. First, I hadn't actually made a request. Second, don't you think they'd at least try and determine if I was a voter/a citizen of this country/for the announcement or against it/or something? I have to assume they've been swamped.

I've been staring at Orgnet.com during my last five "hold breaks." There are people doing some totally cool things on-line these days. (Via Jesus' General, the strangest, funniest site I haven't yet made up my mind to link to.)

From Professor Kim (who has interesting thoughts on the subject), I learned that racism is alive and well in some people's hearts and souls.

You know what this looks like to me?

The Pentagon investigated the Pentagon and found that the Pentagon hadn't gone wrong.

Which is, in fact, what they're saying.

It's important to consider the protests over the impropriety of assigning junior officers to investigate senior officers.

Beyond that, it was undoubtedly outside the scope and authority of the investigators to dig into if or how the CIA might have gone wrong.

I think the bottom line that rational, honest people understand is that someone either ordered the prisoner abuse or let it be known that such abuse was 'desired' in order to 'soften up' the POWs (for POWs they are, no matter what fancy semantic dancing you do) and the soldiers responded.

And I think most of us understand also that we're being told that it's none of our business who it was.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

Workday mornings, around nine, I usually saunter over to Starbucks for my morning latte. This morning I made the trip at 11:15, which says something. Either I'm really busy, or I need to get better organized.

And yet...I still find myself sitting on "hold" for minutes at a time.

A link worth spreading around. Via Editor and Publisher,

The Associated Press has posted a new section on its corporate Internet site that is dedicated to raising public awareness of its efforts to press for government access. The launch of the "AP and Freedom of Information" Web pages coincides with the first national "Sunshine Week: Your Right to Know" initiative, a weeklong media coalition project scheduled to officially get under way March 13.

Browsing the 'net, I see that Sean Hannity is not the flavor of the month at the moment.

And I see some people are asking silly questions. We didn't invade Iraq just to bring them the fruits of sweetness-and-light democracy that they're enjoying today, you know. A permanent foothold in the oil-rich Middle East just might have had something to do with the whole getting our war on thing. Have I not been saying this?

For those of you still trying to deny that we've brought the fabulousness of democracy to Iraq, allow me to mention that you could be wrong. After all, Iraq has achieved that pinnacle of democratic success, an in with some K Street Lobbyists.

Bush Administration judicial nominees are a mixed bunch. Some of them are downright scary.

Terrence Boyle, who has been nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, is also a troubling choice. He has an extraordinarily high reversal rate for a district court judge. Many of the decisions that have been criticized by higher courts wrongly rejected claims involving civil rights, sex discrimination and disability rights. Mr. Boyle's record is particularly troubling because the court reversing him, the Fourth Circuit, is perhaps the most hostile to civil rights in the federal appellate system, and even it has regularly found his rulings objectionable.


And, speaking of the Bush Administration. Remember Karen Hughes? Looks like she's back.

The sources said Hughes will not be a formal member of the White House staff but will take on a specific and particularly important assignment involving international affairs, but they would not identify it.

What's that all about?

Outsourcing. A contentious topic, but there has to be a point at which it becomes ridiculous.

Ideology check on Social Security overhaul

A January limited-circulation memo by Peter Wehner, director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives, said that the overhaul of Social Security "will be one of the most conservative undertakings of modern times." And, if successful, "will rank as one of the most significant conservative governing achievements ever."

Color me so astonished.

In case anyone doubts the ideological underpinning of the campaign for Social Security overhaul, Wehner writes that "we consider our Social Security reform not simply an economic challenge but a moral goal and a moral good." And he predicts that the debate over Social Security "is going to be a monumental clash of ideas" that will help the nation "to move away from dependency on government."

Okay...I know this is futile, but I'm going to try it once again.

#1 - "The Government" is not some evil entity that exists separately from the rest of the country. It is a service bureau. It exists to allow us to do big things involving big groups of people in an organized way while overseeing that small groups of people are not unnecessarily or unjustifably oppressed.

#2 - "The Government" is, at least in theory, directly answerable to us, The People. Wall Street is not. If I get a choice of who "oversees" my retirement account, I want accountability.

#3 - "The Government" is something we're all dependent on in a hundred ways every day.

#4 - "The Government" is the implementation of society's needs and desires. For instance, society might need and desire a safe haven for retirement accounts. Voila! Social Security. My money. Put into my retirement account. Paid back to me when I retire.

#5 - If you make One. More. Statement. implying that this money is some kind of charitable handout "The Government" is giving me, you're not getting any dessert for a week.

I'm just saying.

What do you think the odds are that 30% interest rates might cause a few bankruptcies?

No...wait. We're having bankruptcy reform, aren't we?

Gosh. It's sure not a good time to have debt in the USofA, is it?

Posted by AnneZook at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)
March 10, 2005

Inexplicably, an Andrew Tobias reader claims to love Brussels sprouts.

Of course, they have to be boiled in chicken broth, then fried in butter first, which pretty much eliminates any...well...brussels sprouts flavor. (More than one correspondent recommended frying in butter. Allow me to mention that very few foodstuffs are not improved in flavor by such treatment.

For instance...fried green tomatoes are, in fact, a gourmet delights. As are fried cucumber slices.

It's the butter. Who doesn't love asparagus drizzled with a rich, lemon-butter sauce? That same sauce turns broccoli into a mouth-watering treat. Artichokes, as I firmly believe, were made with cupping leaves to allow you to scoop up more butter with every mouthful.)

What's almost worse than standing me up for a meeting is repeatedly rescheduling for ten minutes later. This does not permit me any time to actually do any other work while I wait for you. You are rude (and your mother dresses you funny).

(It's a pity I'm not one of those people who blog for a living. I never seem to run out of irrelevant nothings to babble about.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:40 PM | Comments (2)
Seems To Me

Seems to me that if the wingnuts in the Bush Administration really thought we were in danger from terrorists, we wouldn't see articles like this or columns like this so often. If half the effort had been put into sensible security measures on USofA soil that was put into invading a non-involved country, we'd be half again as safe from "terrorist acts" as we are today. Instead of, arguably, inflaming a new generation of potential suicide bombers.

Seems to me that if we really cared about "freedom" around the world, we'd be making a bigger noise about slavery.

Seems to me that if we were really worried about the proliferation of WMD, we'd have been making mean-eyes at them that has them during the time we were planning our oh-so-grand invasion of tiny Iraq.

Seems to me that if we're really worried about "corporate ethics" in the new millennium, we should get over this obsession with sex (this was a consensual affair between two adults) and focus on the economic ethics of corporations.

Seems to me that if someone makes a 2:00 appointment with me, it's rude to keep me sitting here for half an hour, waiting for them to arrive.

Seems to me that Congress has lost touch with the real folks. Like that bankruptcy "reform" bill we need like a hole in the head.

A few lawmakers reported some debt, but darned few of them.

"Fifty-three senators and 216 members of the House reported having no financial liabilities."

Also? They seem to know tricks the rest of us don't know.

Ackerman, for example, said that he routinely transferred a high balance from one account to another, which would be reported in the same way if he had carried a high balance on all the cards at the same time.

"If you do it carefully, you wind up paying nothing in interest," he argued. "If someone is going to give you free money, I want to be in that line." Asked if he planned to pay off the balance for good, he said, "If they keep offering zero percent interest for three months, I'll do it forever. … Do you wanna loan me a couple of bucks at no interest?"

I'm thinking...that's the credit card version of kiting checks, isn't it? And kiting checks is illegal, most places.

It gets even more fun as I keep reading.

Freshman Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), who tied for fourth on the list, was previously a district court judge in the Houston area best known for creative sentencing and a hard-line view on law enforcement.

Asked about four charge accounts totaling more than $40,000, he said in a statement, "Just like millions of Americans, I understand the burden of debts - and the moral obligation to honor them. I believe it is important that we reform our bankruptcy laws."

Poe was also among several members who had received campaign contributions from the same bank or credit card company with which they held an account.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong. I'm just saying it looks bad. (Or, at the very least, "politics as usual" which is, in fact, bad. Political contributions turned directly into political influence which aids corporations at the expense of the individual.

(Bush is still wrong.)

And now, it seems to me I should be getting back to work.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:18 PM | Comments (1)
March 09, 2005
Blog-free day

Once again, those who pay my generous salary are expecting me to devote the hours from 8-5 to their business.

While you're waiting, there's plenty to read on-line.

(The good news? Three days and not one, single comment spam! Hooray for the Blacklist!)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)
March 08, 2005
Think Twice

Maybe what this should really suggest to us is that, obnoxious and gratuitously insulting as Coulter's writings are to intelligent people stuck reading them, they're probably a lot worse before her legal-minded publishers get to them? Which, you know, says that, obnoxious, petty-minded, and bigoted as we find Coulter, she's actually much worse?

Via Avedon Carol who got it from Jonathan Dresner of Cliopatria fame, the perils of electronic voting. (Regardless of political affiliation, you need to care.)

You know what I object to in the whole "war room" thing? I'll give you a hint. It's nothing to do with the fact that the Administration occasionally shows some intelligence by realizing they need a strategy for something, even if the strategy is only around trying to sell a concept instead of around formulating a decent concept to sell. (Well, okay, I object to that, but the Bush Administration don't get any smarter in spite of the fact that thousands of us have spent the last four years publicly posting their failings so let's move on.)

What I really object to is the whole idea that they're waging "war" on the USofA citizenship. Metaphors are not harmless and the metaphors people use tell you a lot about them. I'm just, in the end, sick of the entire bunch of them and their perception that anything can be solved with enough bullets. I'm sick of that playground bully mentality and I'm sick of the adolescent posturing.

I know I'm not the first one to comment on the rhetoric of the Bush Administration (even outside of Shrub's tortured syntax and potentially Freudian missteps) but I think it's a wider problem than that. I think the "language of war" is common in Washington and contributes to the confrontational, partisan divide. If you're at "war" then you have to have an "enemy" and perhaps many of the testosterone-poisoned inhabitants of D.C. have a little trouble reaching across the aisle to "the enemy."

Also? I'm not qualified to comment at any length, but I think that when power becomes an end, in and of itself, government is in trouble. And that's what I see in Washington today. A culture where it's the power that matters, not the responsibility of leadership.

1500 dead soldiers doesn't sound like that high a cost for fighting a war, not to some of you. But what about when you include everyone?

Nearly 17,000 service members medically evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan are absent from public Pentagon casualty reports commonly cited by newspapers, according to military data reviewed by United Press International. Most don't fit the definition of casualties, according to the Pentagon, but a veterans' advocate said they should all be counted.

The Pentagon has reported 1,019 dead and 7,245 wounded from Iraq.

The military has evacuated 16,765 individual service members from Iraq and Afghanistan for injuries and ailments not directly related to combat, according to the U.S. Transportation Command, which is responsible for the medical evacuations. Most are from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Y'all may not agree, but I think 17,000 evacuees says there's a lot going on we're not being told. I mean, what does the Pentagon consider "not a casualty"? If a soldier develops debilitating PTSD or some other disorder, I guess he's not a casual of battle. ("Among the mental problems were 800 soldiers who became psychotic") If someone gets suicidally depressed, I guess they aren't a casualty of battle. If someone gets food poisoning from bad field rations, I guess they aren't a casualty of battle. I do know soldiers "wounded" by equipment problems aren't considered casualties. (If your gun explodes while you're loading it, for instance, you're not a casualty. It's not that they don't love you, it's just that they have to keep the numbers down. The fact that you were in a war zone doesn't count.)

Overworked case officers, unrealistic case loads, lack of money or resources enough to do more than the bare minimum. It's about parole officers but much of these same problems exist in social work agencies across the country. Like education, this country's social programs exist more in theory than in any workable, sustainable reality. There are people in the Middle East who need to be killed, you know. No money to waste on social programs to alleviate the appalling and miserable lives that lead citizens of this country to become criminals. None at all.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:34 PM | Comments (2)
March 07, 2005
Still Blogging

I'm a multi-tasker, okay? It's compulsive. (Besides, this is wasted time. And if I'm put on 'hold' for ten minutes by one more person today, I'm going to have a fit.)

I could probably find it online in two seconds, but you already know it. That famous question, "who will guard the guardians?" In this case the answer seems to be, "no one, so keep your mouth shut and mind your own business." (I mean, color me cynical, but why do I find the guy's defense of "there is no evidence" to be unconvincing?)

I don't mean to throw sand in the works, but this bothers me, and not for the reason you'd think.

It's been a while since I had a chance to visit the SunTimes QuickTakes. Nice to see they haven't lost their touch.

QT Trickle-On Economics Update:

Pay for the CEOs at 100 major American corporations rose 46.4 percent last year while pay for American workers rose 3.6 percent.


I believe we've "renditioned" (I know, not a word) people because the government has admitted it. But I have some trouble with some of the reports.

Witnesses tell the same story: masked men in an unmarked jet seize their target, cut off his clothes, put him in a blindfold and jumpsuit, tranquilize him and fly him away.

All of that, apparently done quite publicly? Hard to believe. No...looks like in Sweden, the police brought the victims out to the airport. But...how was that arranged? Even a legal extradition can take months. Exactly how do you convince/suborn the street cops of other nations to fall into line with this stuff? Would cops actually do something that illegal just on an order from a superior or something?

This entire thing reads more like a spy melodrama than anything else.

Later note: I was naive. It happened this way.

Iraq. Oil-for-food. Scandal. Ringing any bells? I went to the foreign press for an update. (Can't remember where I read it this morning, but I do remember reading a story where the Right is now blaming Clinton for the USofA's imminent implication in the O-f-F scandal. Because the oil companies themselves aren't to blame or something, I don't know.)

(Hey! Color me stunned. Since when do my aimless ramblings rate a mention on Liberal Oasis? Maybe because it was Sunday...slow blog day.)

And I should have recommended this before, but I've been thinking about it. Well, okay, partly I was annoyed because it took me two days to get the song out of my head after I first read the entry. But it's well worth reading. And be grateful. At least we're not facing Letters of Marque at the moment. At least...not until someone suggests the idea to the Bush Administration. There are plenty of mercenaries and "private armies" out there who might like to do just that....

(Also? The link to the original post? Allow me to mention, about that original post, that I'm really tired of hearing about how Democrats aren't willing to go after terrorists.

As long as Republicans are the party who created, trained, funded, and encouraged Bin Laden and his boys? They should shut up about who does more to "encourage" terrorists. Not that I'm telling Mr./Dr./Professor/Whatever is appropriate Pipes to "shut up", at least not particularly. But that lie is tired.)

Oops. Well...okay.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:20 PM | Comments (4)
Hypocrisy and the Pork Report

Drat those people.

Roaming the 'net, reading here and there, I read this suggestion that our already too-stingy tsunami donation might be whacked.

The rest of the list is almost as appalling. I guess the Bush Administration's work is done. It appears even the Republicans no longer believe the federal government can afford to spend money...not even to finish what we started overseas. (One really annoying thing? If things fail in Afghanistan and Iraq, as it seems they are likely to? Now the Bush Administration can say it's not their fault...it's Congress's fault for not funding the effort.)

But Item #4 made me happy. I've always hated the hypocrisy of touting our "international coalition" with little or no public mention made of the fact that we're paying most of the coalitions to play along.

And #5, the Pork Report, is, of course, as interesting as these things always are.

The House emergency spending bill contains billions of dollars in spending to refill depleted defense accounts for Iraq and Afghanistan that were cut in this year’s defense spending bill to make room a record increase in local pork projects, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a non-partisan budget watchdog organization.

Their report.

There's a lot of good stuff there. Like the pie chart, showing that in the Defense Appropriations Bill, members of the D. A. committee got 65% of the pork. And, lest ye believe I'm being bitterly partisan, 3 of the top six oinkers are Republicans and 3 are Democrats. (The top two? Alaska, followed by Hawaii. They made out like, forgive me, bandits.)

The discrepancies between the House and Senate versions of the bill illustrate the difference a simple committee assignment can make. Alaska, which lacks representation on the House Appropriations Committee, received less than $2 million in the House version of the legislation, but in the Senate, where its senior senator chairs both the Appropriations Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Alaska ended up with $375 million. It's not just a coincidence, and Stevens probably won't mind that this database so clearly demonstrates his power over the appropriations process. For a senator who is revered for bringing home the bacon, this is like free advertising.

Specific appropriations include the usual lunatic gems. Other nuggets include $1.5 million for a virtual reality spray paint simulator system in Pine City, Minnesota

And there's a little lesson in government dishonesty for us all, as well.

Dozens of Pentagon readiness and maintenance accounts get cut in this year's bill, with no explanation from the conferees as to why. Personnel and operations and maintenance accounts were slashed by more than $2.8 billion, including cuts to some of the least sexy defense spending items, like food, repair items, training, spare parts, weapons maintenance, and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since Congress can now move some of that funding into the supplemental, they have the opportunity to put out an appropriations bill that makes defense spending look smaller than it actually is, and has plenty of room in it for members' earmarks.

Some of the supposed cuts are really nothing more than budget tricks. For example, Congress routinely includes "cost avoidance" cuts in defense legislation. Cost avoidance means Congress is mandating that the program save some money, regardless of whether such savings are possible or not. Congress does not justify these cuts, and there is no guarantee that the program will save any money at all, leaving the services to borrow from other accounts or simply scale back the program in order to meet their new funding requirement.

Don't miss the "Accounts cut in FY2005 Defense Appropriations and replenished in FY2005 Supplemental" section.

The army got smacked, but I doubt they'll really wind up losing. The army is fighting in Iraq. It's going to be difficult, if not impossible, for Congress to later approve of funding them.

The Marine Corps got beaucoup bucks. In theory, as part of the original "cutback" in spending, they lost $14,800,000 from the 2005 budget. In this bill? They're getting $1,246,126,000. That's the $14.8 million they lost plus one billion, two hundred and thirty one million three hundred and twenty six thousand dollars (1,231, 326,000) extra.

(Seriously. I'm working today. A lot. It's just that I'm also sitting on hold a lot.)

Posted by AnneZook at 12:23 PM | Comments (2)
Things I Ponder

Is poor taste contagious or is the whole group just as short-sighted as they seem to be?

A lot of us conservatives believe that we'll be celebrating the end of the liberal lock on the airwaves."

Okay, so, a properly asked question answers itself.

So. The blogger at "mediabistro" got a White House press pass. It's amazing to me how quickly, in these conservative days, even the most 'radical' of social insurgents fight to become part of the mainstream.

It's a mystery to me that people get so wrapped up in protecting themselves from...I dunno, someone saying, bad boy! or something, that they'll let people die before openly and honestly facing their problems.

Or maybe this particular story, which comes as no surprise to many of us, has an awful lot to do with the DoD's corrupt contracting process?

Is raising the retirement age a good thing or not? More and more seniors are choosing to stay on in the workplace. For those that want to do so, I say hooray. But what about those who don't? Clearly you can "retire" whenever you want...the key to the debate is when you start collecting benefits (and how much you're entitled t0).

If we take as the starting point for discussion, an "average life expectancy" of 77.2 year, then what we're talking about is asking people who have no other resources to cut their "golden years" from 10 to 9. And that's the average, which means a substantial number of people will die before age 77.2, which no doubt includes a disproportionate percentage of the poor and disadvantaged.

Bottom line...I think I disapprove. In the end, it comes down to social class. Those who have the kinds of jobs they'd like to stay in after 65 (now 67) are probably the ones who have the financial resources to choose their own retirement date anyhow. Those who will really suffer are those who will get no choice. Those who have only the weekly paycheck to live on. We've already tacked two years onto the time these people have to work. Now we're considering tacking on another year. Since this is likely to be the same class of people more prone to dying before the "average" age of 77.2, we're taking a disproportionate bite out of their well-deserved retirement years.

Really, there's a whole, long debate buried in there, isn't there? Should people "have" to work? Should people be "entitled" to retired? How much of life should be spent contributing to the machinery of the economy?

But I don't have that kind of time (or expertise).

Is Iraq the new Vietnam? Maybe it is. It's about more than body count. War crimes committed by overstressed, badly led troops, for instance.

Look, I'm not living in a fantasy world. I know war is ugly and brutal. It's...well, it's war. But, as I've said again and again, what war does to those who fight it, win or lose, is the number one reason you should avoid war if at all possible.

And, speaking of the Bush Administration being "emboldened" to continue along their disastrous path, I see John R. Bolton has been tapped to be the new U.N. delegate. (Offical bio.) (Not to be irrelevant, but, hey, John? If you're going to dye your hair, dye the moustache, buddy. You look ridiculous.)

Another Bush Administration wingnut? I'm thinking...yeah. It seems very likely. (But that doesn't make him dumb.

I find myself wondering if there's some kind of punishment for the UN's reception of the USofA's regressive, fundamentalist anti-abortion stance at the conference on women's rights?

(Am I the only one who was embarrassed by how backward we're willing to appear to the world? I'm just saying. "Leader" of the Free World? Not so much us these days.)

But, we were talking about Bolton. Punishment? Probably not. It's just more warmongering. By the time they get done, the Bush Administration will have warmongers in every seat they can find.

Selma. It was forty years ago today. I wanted to research a big, long essay on this over the weekend, but I spent the time fighting comment spam, instead.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:41 AM | Comments (4)
March 06, 2005
Don't Let the Door Hit You....

Turmoil in the DLC is good for those of us on the Left.

In fact, the dissolution of the DLC would be welcomed, by myself at least, with cheers.

They do not "lead" us in any sense of the world. Self-nominated career politicians surrounded by those who make a living from...serving politicians? These are not who our leaders should be.

The problem, as I've probably said before, with career politicians and those who make a living from political campaigns is that they lose sight of reality. They become too immersed in the world of campaign rhetoric and start believing that the bottom line is winning in November. So...they do whatever they have to, to win.

If you're making widgets, then closing a sale on a multi-year contract is a business triumph. Of course, if you fail to deliver your widgets, the contract will be cancelled and you'll be sitting in an empty factory. That is as it should be. It's the cycle of business, where the law protects those who have been wronged (i.e., your widget customer).

But politics is not like making widgets. If politicians lie to us, we can't fire them. At least, not before their terms run out. If they fail to deliver on the implicit contact, we can't get out of it early.

Heck, unlike in real business, there aren't even any checks and balances to force them to tell us the truth about whether or not our widgets are actually in production. Transparency in governing is essential but Washington has decided we're too stupid, or too untrustworthy to be told what's actually happening every day. (Either that, or a lot of them are too ashamed of what they're doing day-in and day-out to want us to see it.)

You can't treat politics like a business. The point isn't winning campaigns.*

My apologies to those on the Left, and those on the Right, while I'm at it, but that's the bottom line. What matters isn't what political party you belong to. What "insiders" clubs you get invited to join. Which cocktail parties you get an invite to. Getting your picture taken in the Rose Garden. All of the other stupid 'perks' that you think are so important. That's precisely the sort of attitude that started the move for term limits, okay?

Politics is not a business.

What matters is the customer and, brace yourself for a surprise here, Halliburton is not your customer. The 100,000 or whatever employees of Halliburton are and they're entitled to be treated as such.

That means that, yes, the health of the business that employs them is important. But it means a lot more. It means that while their paycheck is important, it's equally important that the government prevent Halliburton from dumping toxic waste into the local water supply. Those employees and their children are entitled to clean drinking water. It means that while their paycheck is important, it's equally important that there be laws, rules, and regulations to prevent Halliburton from mistreating those workers on the job. Safe working conditions, regulated hours, meal and rest breaks, equal pay for equal work, and all of those other Leftist frivolities we all take so much for granted.

The DLC backed Clinton, yes. They didn't elect him.

The media-fueled, Right-wing foaming at the mouth hysteria over his sex life merely disgusted me with the media and the Right.

Clinton wasn't a liberal, but he was more liberal in reality than he was allowed to be in office. (In some ways.)

In fact, he was rather centrist and I think that, after 12 solid years of Neo-con fantasy, a centrist was best for the country. Had it not been for those same Neo-cons going mental when their guy failed to win re-election, well....little, black dress would still be a fashion staple and not grungy code for the kind of sex that the Right fantasizes about when locked in their dark, little closets.**

John Kerry? The main reason he's not in the White House at this moment is a lack of courage. Okay...he's not a radical liberal. He's more of a Clinton-style centrist. But if he'd had the courage to say, "yes, I'm a liberal and I'm damned proud of it" that probably would have garnered him an easy half-million votes.

When and if John Edwards decides to run in '08? I hope he shows more courage. But we can help. Between now and '07 (the official "start" of the campaign cycle) we need to take back the word.

And, somewhere along the way, it would be nice to take back the Party.


* Don't start with me.

No, the purpose is not winning campaigns. It's winning them right.

By honestly offering what will honestly do people good. Or by having the courage to do things which might hurt in the short run but which will benefit us all in the long run, like curbing energy usage or forcing clean water standards on your employer.

All people are not as selfish or stupid as you think. The country is filled with rational adults who make hard choices in their personal lives every, single day. They do not lose this ability at the ballot box.

If you think winning means being a paler reflection of the opposition, then you're a part of the problem. If you think getting in to office at any price, can be "made up for" later, you're on the slippery slope and part of you knows it.

All of those reported Liberals who haven't bothered to vote in a long time? Would come back out of the woodwork for an open and avowed liberal candidate.

** Yeah, okay, I know. But I refuse to shut up about it. What is it with the Right's obsession with sex?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:43 PM | Comments (2)

I spent over two hours downloading and installing MT Blacklist today.

I'm tentatively planning to try leaving comments open for more than 48 hours to see if the program actually cuts down on the amount of spam I'm getting.

Also I'm getting someone to look at the Categories code to see why those don't display.

Really. I had other things I wanted to do today than blog maintenance.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)
Proud To Be A Liberal

I'm a liberal and I'm proud of it.

'Progressive' is a nice, shiny, new word and I don't have anything against it or what people calling themselves 'progressives' believe in, but if you're going to draw a line in the sand, draw it in the right place.

I was toying with the term 'progressive' myself. It has a nice sound to it. But I've decided...well, no. I like to think I'm progressive in a lot of my thinking, but the bottom line is I'm a liberal and it's one of the things I'm, proudest of.

It shows I have a certain amount of intelligence. A lot of common sense. A value for people. A concern for the future, not only of our species but of every species on the planet. That I understand that our future and the future of the Amazon rain forests are closely entwined. That I understand that the individual needs protection against the weight of corporate interests. It shows that I understand that, in the end, it's the people who matter.

Liberal is a good word with a proud history. If you want to fight, start by taking back the right to identify yourself in your own words. Start by telling the truth about who you are.

We're told that academia is largely liberal. We're told that the press is largely liberal. (Well, that's not true in the corporate sense, but it's true in terms of the personal beliefs of most journalists.)

Well, duh.

I've written that blog entry five dozen times and then deleted it because I couldn't get the words right. Avedon Carol has provided us with a great entry on the subject. Not the one I would have written, but better in many ways, and she covers the specific point that has always stood out for me.

I have never understood why this should be a criticism of the media, anymore than it makes sense that this is a negative trait of academe; if the people who are best educated and most aware of what is going on are more liberal, maybe that's because you have to be ignorant to swallow conservatism.


(Note here that I'm not talking about the popular definition of "conservatism" and the one many of our fellow citizens use to lull themselves to sleep at night. I'm not talking about your grandfather's conservatism; the one based on fiscal responsibility and the government getting out of the way to let the little guy forge ahead. If that brand of conservatism ever really existed in Washington, it disappeared a long time ago. No, I'm talking about actual conservatism as it exists today. But that's not what I'm here to discuss.)

I think that both Current Events and History are interpretable. That is, you can take the facts that are known, put them though any lens of bias you possess, and prove almost anything.

If you separate the bias from the events, if you simply state facts and dates, well, the history of Conservatism in this country isn't (brace yourselves) entirely evil. In fact, it's been a necessary check on the sometimes catastrophically liberal nature of our country.

But that was then and that was that conservatism, which bears little resemblance to the radical conservatism that holds sway in Washington today.

One days, old-style conservatives are going to wake up and realize their party has been hijacked by the wingnuts. But, that's their problem.

For us, the key is kicking out the cowards and career political animals, making it clear that anyone who is afraid to be a liberal has no business pretending to lead the party of liberalism.

And by not being afraid to take back the name. While we weren't looking, or we weren't believing our eyes, Right wingnuts managed to make "liberal" into a bad word, even convincing a lot of 'the little people' that the same liberalism that founded this country was an evil and a danger to be avoided.

I don't want to get down in the muck with the wingnuts. I don't want to prove we can name-call and lie and cheat the same as they can. We have to be better than that. Goodness knows, we have a platform of accomplishments to run on that will make the Right foam at the mouth. So why don't we use it?

Since the organizers of the Democratic Party seem to be leading the "Afraid To Be A Liberal" campaign these days, we'll have to go another way. There are a number of grass-roots organizations who can raise money. They could air an ad, giving the real explanation of the 'evils' of liberalism.

This arrived in my in-box a while back. I'm not sure where it originated, but I've been thinking about it ever since.


Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.

With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of Joe's medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. the air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards.

Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Its noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so the can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

After work this evening, Joe plans to visit his father at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

Joe is happy to see his father, who is now retired and lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day.

Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have.

Liberalism. Define it. Own it. Advertise it.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:16 PM | Comments (5)
Sunday Blogging

That dolphin-beaching story? It's starting to look like audio pollution might have been the culprit.

Today's CBS News headline? Outsourcing Interrogation 'Legal'.

A senior Bush administration official says a secret CIA program to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogation is a legal alternative to the cumbersome and expensive process of holding them in U.S. facilities.

Human rights are too cumbersome for this Administration?

I may be sick.

Voting irregularities matter. Those of you on the Right smugly dismissing this stuff because you think it's a bunch of Lefties whining over losing are letting partisan idiocy blind you.

Everyone's vote should be accurately counted.

What about this simple fact fails to register with you? It's not, in the end, about November 2004. Not even a little bit. It's about the basic foundation of our government. It's not about who won, or lost, one election. It's about every election from here on out. It's about your right to use the ballot box to influence the future of this country.

Is it just because almost 100% of the reported irregularities implicate the Right? Do you think it doesn't matter because it means your guys remain in power? Are you really that thrilled with that the Bush Administration and the rest of the Radical Right are doing?

(And how the heck am I getting so many 'pings' from spammers where I'm unable to identify and block the actual URL? How can I get 'pinged' from a site that doesn't exist? I've been reduced to banning entire ISPs.)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:05 AM | Comments (2)