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April 22, 2005

Every time I think I can't be more appalled by the Right's behavior, something happens or is revealed that proves I was wrong.

The veteran republican [Congressman Henry Hyde] is also admitting for the first time that the impeachment of Clinton may have been in part political revenge against the democrats for the impeachment proceedings against GOP President Richard Nixon 25 years earlier. *

"Was this pay back?" asked Andy Shaw.

"I can't say it wasn't.

I'm beginning to wonder if there is any bottom to the Republican barrel. (Via Ralph Luker at Cliopatria.)

One of the things that made me most reluctant to vote for Salazar here in Colorado was his idiocy on the subject of the congressional filibuster. For only the second time since he took office, I find myself able to applaud him for reconsidering that mistake.

You know what I want to see? By 8:00 Monday morning, I want to see, front and center on theNYTimes and WaPo front pages and on the CNN and MSNBC websites, a chart showing a comparison between the average annual number of Clinton judicial nominees blocked by Congress during his years and the average annual number of Bush nominees that have been blocked. Why doesn't one, single major media outlet have the courage to just put the numbers out there? They aren't complicated, they speak for themselves.

Atrios points us to Carpetbagger where I found out that Santoro has a new scheme going. He wants to forbid the taxpayer-funded National Weather Service from providing weather information to taxpayers. We should pay for it a second time, through some private weather information provider.

There will be a pause while my mind boggles.

And now, in even stupider news, it seems that reading too many books is dangerous these days. I have two flights in May. If an airport screener attempts to relieve me of any one of the four or five books I'll have in my carry-on luggage, I'm gonna be pitching a fit. (Via the Invaluable Avedon Carol.)

Posted by AnneZook at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)
Friday Downtime

Symbolically, one of the things that makes many of us think of our heritage is the vision of herds of wild horses thundering across an endless, sunlit plain. Manes rippling down their necks, hooves casting up a storm of dust, heads stretched out eagerly to taste the wind, it's a visual that's familiar to all of us.

Well, hang on to that picture. Thanks to what sounds like a sneak attack from a single Senator, the next time you see wild horses, it may be as carcasses at the nearby dog food plant.

The 34 year old protection from slaughter granted to wild horses and burros roaming a number of the nation's states, was unilaterally repealed by Montana Senator Conrad Burns last December. There were no hearings, no public opportunity for comment and the vast majority of Congress was caught unaware.

Call me cynical, but I'm already puzzling over where the money trail will be found.

Speaking of unsavory, I find a politician barring his government employed staff from speaking to specific journalists from the established media pretty unpleasant. We're not talking national security here, we're talking about a partisan hissyfit on the part of the politician. (I'm not thrilled to read that the Baltimore Sun moved at least one of the journalists to a new job, either, but it does sound like a promotion, at least.) It went to the courts, and the newspaper lost.

John Bolton. In his own words. From an interesting Guardian article. (Don't miss the comments.) More on the story in the LATimes. And more from The Nation.

Speaking of Bush nominees, I see we have a new guy nominated for head of the Joint Chiefs, General Peter Pace, a Marine. Looks like he's currently Vice Chairman. I can't tell from the material I read, but he seems to be intelligent and articulate. And not a loony, unless his much-reported defense of the lunatic Boykin is an indicator. (For the record, I don't. The "defense" is tepid, at best.)

I can't say I'm inspired to buy the book, but the review is compelling. (They Just Don't Get It: How Washington Is Still Compromising Your Safety--And What You Can Do about It By Colonel David Hunt)

And, on a lighter note, I found this funny, not the least because of the picture of the feral cat, armed for battle.

The stupidity of "txtmsg" abbreviations does, in fact, make you stupid.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)
Random Rudeness

I haven't said much recently about the on-going kerfuffle over a Pharmacist's Right To Choose. There's much I could say but the truth is I keep waiting for someone else to make the point that occurred to me when I first read the first story.

Mainly, if a pharmacists won't prescribe birth-control so that a woman can have sex and avoid pregnancy, but he will prescribe Viagra so some old guy can get it up, what he's really saying is that it's right and moral for men to have sex but women shouldn't, except to get pregnant.

Which inevitably leads me to the realization that the pharmacist really thinks that guys who don't want a baby arriving in nine months should only have sex with other guys, so these pharmacists are all clearly part of the Gay Agenda.

And, speaking of Things Gay, we could be heading toward a Spanish Iniquitous-ition as the new pope disses Spain's move toward equal rights.

Also kerfuffling are Eric Alterman and J.F. and M.K. at Media Matters. Not with either other. With Cloud, the guy who wrote the misleading article on Coulter in Time magazine.

Let's not lose sight of the facts. Cloud is indignant that he's not getting credit for quoting people who called Coulter names and then he calls Alterman names. Which, I guess, proves he's an equal-opportunity name-caller or something.

Alterman and Media Matters insist on sticking to the point, being that someone who is reportedly a "hard news journalist" should have been discussing Coulter's many and varied lies, hate-mongering, and factual inconsistencies and not quoting people whose criticism never rose above the intellectual level of calling her a "skank." (Also? Since when does a "hard news journalist" stop their research at a simple Google search?) Cloud's ultimate defense is that everyone points out Coulter's many mistakes and inaccuracies and he wanted a "fresh" approach. I guess that's why we got her "irony" and her hair instead of news.

(Disclaimer: I have not read and do not intend to read Cloud's entire article. Even if I were open to the idea of reading Time magazine, I suspect that more than three paragraphs about Coulter would explode my brain. So it's possible I'm being unfair. I doubt it. Further, I don't really care. Everyone knows what she is, which is why "everyone" writes about how many mistakes she makes.)

Not at all rudely, Alan Allport's Cliopatria entry on Eric Muller's essay and Michael Kater's book have inspired me to want to read both. I'm indifferent to matters of poping, which means I've had to swallow a few rude remarks on the subject of the new guy, but the discussion of what "resistance" was possible (and practiced) in pre-WWII Germany sounds fascinating.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)
April 21, 2005
Drop Them A Note, Give Them A Call

Maybe what Microsoft's management really needs is nicer letters from the millions of computer users who are in favor of gay rights or, at a minimum, object to discrimination.

Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are available here (I'm gonna have to donate to AmericaBlog, aren't I?) and please remember that swearing, threats of violence, and name-calling are less-impressive than calm, rational prose.

Dear ________:

I read about Microsoft withdrawing support for House bill 1515, the anti-gay-discrimination bill, and I'm very disappointed.

I have been a Microsoft customer for many decades and while I'm reluctant to make threats, I'm also aware that alternatives to Microsoft's OS and programs are freely available. "Freely" indeed, since many alternatives, in fact, both free and largely advertised as superior products. Until this time I've stuck with the Microsoft package but your decision to support institutionalized bigotry in this country is making me reconsider that decision.

Had Microsoft chosen to stay out of the politics of gay discrimination, that would have been one thing. Not admirable, but an understandable corporate decision.

Since your corporation chose to involve itself, to stand up publicly in favor of anti-discrimination, to withdraw support at this point out of fear of the opinion of a small group of people is shameful. (The fact that the corporation even investigated employees with an eye toward firing them at the request of one highly biased, partisan, non-employee is a bit surprising.)

Based upon your own corporation's praiseworthy history of providing partnership benefits to employees, regardless of sexual orientation, I find it difficult to believe the corporation itself is unwilling to put its not-inconsiderable support behind this idea on a larger scale or at least to assist in eliminating active discrimination.

I urge you to reconsider this move. Discrimination against any group of citizens, whether based on gender, race, age, or sexual orientation is un-American. Take a stand for liberty and for American values. Support Bill 1515.

Thank you for your attention,

_your name__
__city, state__
___phone (if you want)___

Posted by AnneZook at 11:26 AM | Comments (0)
Airhead News

The first step to better popcorn.

If you liked that or, even better, if it annoyed you, you should read this.

Is the convenience of having access to that precise search you used last month to uncover that hard-to-find information worth the risk of the entire world someday seeing your complete search history? Google thinks it might be.

Is there really a future for 3-D movies? What about if you don't have to those goofy glasses?

How much would you pay to sit in your living room and shoot to death an animal hundreds of miles away? Move fast, you may lose the option to give it a try. And you never have to leave your comfy chair. Explain to me again how hunting is a "sport" and "an adventure."

I was interested to read a column about why Air American isn't succeeding but not as thrilled to find it full of misinformation and irrelevancies.

There is no "liberal bias" in the media, that's been debunked a hundred times. People of all ethnicities would listen to the programs if they offered entertainment and education of interest to the listeners. NPR is, regardless of what you read in this column, not liberal. I listen to it regularly and I promise you I become annoyed by the news reports as often as I'm nodding and agree with them. There's plenty of balance there. And I firmly believe that the audience polled is either lying about the number of news publications they're reading (in the same way people lie about their church attendance, inflating it to make them appear to be more who they think they should be) or they're all reading nothing but the equivalent of freeper-fodder.

Further, this quote:

Unable to prosper in the medium, liberals have taken to denouncing talk radio as a threat to democracy. Liberal political columnist Hendrik Hertzberg, writing in The New Yorker, is typically venomous. Conservative talk radio represents "viscous, untreated political sewage" and "niche entertainment for the spiritually unattractive," Hertzberg sneers.

This is largely true. Right-wing talk radio is political sewage much of the time and it does appeal to the worst in its listeners. So while I disagree that it's a "threat to democracy" (or that there's any organized effort to kill it off), rightwing talk radio is bad for us as a society. I also believe it's part of the price we pay for living in a free society.

Limbaugh is free to spew hate, lies, and what, had it come from the Left, would be called obscenity and no one shuts him up, contradicts him, or arrests him for being, at best, an obnoxious idiot. It's a free speech matter.

Why the Left hasn't yet found anything to counter his ilk is quite another matter that has nothing to do with "issues."

It's the entertainment issue. People driving to and from work, listening to the radio, want to be entertained. There's no reason Air America couldn't be just as entertaining as rightwingnuts without telling all the lies.

Of course, that introduces a different problem. The people with even a modicum of good sense know Limbaugh and his cohorts are, at best, stretching the truth a great deal of the time. So I assume those Modicum Listeners discount what they hear by 25% or so. (They should discount it a lot more, but I'm being conservative.) In order to provide "balance" that means talk-radio from the Left would also have to tell big lies, because talk-radio listeners are accustomed to being lied to and will automatically discount what the Left says by a minimum 25%.

Most of us on the Left aren't quite as good at lying. We can match the Right for passion, but we can't make statistics showing that air and water pollution in Louisiana, directly connected to the industries encouraged to locate there and encouraged to do as they will by a complicit state govenment, are destroying the bayous and with them the livelihoods of thousands of desperately poor people (not to mention an ecosystem) as much fun as Limbaugh making racist, bigoted rants against immigrants.

The culture of the Left isn't one that's going to spawn a lot of Coulters or Noonans or Limbaughs. Itís the very outrageousness of the lies they tell that provides the entertainment value. The fact that they go over the top and then over the top of that.

The Left doesnít often make national icons out of our wingnuts. Jim Hightower gets a bit carried away with his facts occasionally, but he's not even remotely in a class with the Rightwingnuts mentioned here. He's the closest thing we have. (Michael Moore has a definite Leftward bias but he's Hollywood-famous, he wasn't created by the Left. Also, he's biased, yes, but he doesn't tell massive numbers of lies. Ralph Nader, before he became a sad caricature, was a good spokesman for many of the Left's concerns and he could give a good rant with the best of them, but he was always hampered by his determination to tell the truth.)

I'm sure the Left's truth can be funny and entertaining and heart-wrenching and compelling listening. It just remains for Air America to find a few writers who know how to write for radio and some commentators who can deliver the material properly.

Really, it's not a "problem" with the Left at all. The Left isn't failing because their message is unpopular or unwelcome. It's just...not interesting. What Air America needs to do is to snuggle up to a few of those Liberal Hollywood Elites and hire themselves some writing talent.

(I mean, okay, since the Right is afraid of Hollywood's PR power with the public, they've been careful to smear the industry as full of Leftwingnuts, which is far from the truth, so that's a good reason why Air America probably has to stay clear of Hollywood in trying to make a name for itself and it's a shame that the Rightwingnut organizations haven't been publicly denounced by the Left so that anyone associated with them would be automaticallly suspect, but that's the problem you have when you try to focus on issues and not personalities.)

Also, for the record, I'm biased. Don't get carried away thinking I'm all rational and balanced just because I don't swear or use any of the many, many insulting euphemisms I can think of for the less-savory personalities on the Right.

I'm irrevocably biased. I'm a liberal and I think the best place for the Bush Administration and everyone who supports them in power would be on an isolated, undeveloped island in the chilly Atlantic Ocean.

I have nothing against many conservative "issues" as they were defined 40 or more years ago. I have nothing for the current crop of wingnuts leading the Republican Party straight to hell except contempt. And I blame the rest of you in the Republican Party for passively going alone as the lunatics took over your wing of the asylum, just as I blame those of us on the Left for withdrawing from an increasingly unsatisfying Democratic Party, instead of fighting to keep it representative of our beliefs.

Drat. I swore to myself I wasn't going to get into any "issues" this morning. Just a nice little post full of some lightweight Human Interest Items.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)
April 20, 2005
Briefly Cruising the Blogs

First, checking out Ampersand, I find a discussion of when people think it's okay to break the law. I posted a cranky comment.

If you're reading at The Whiskey Bar then you know why I didn't know about that "blog of the year" thing. I didn't know all of that about Time Magazine, but certainly it's been many years (Reagan was president) since I gave up on the publication.

Eric Alterman has more. As does Digby. And David Neiwert.

I'm thinking...maybe the people saying we shouldn't ignore the wingnuts are right. Because it's usually a policy of mine to ignore the idiots under the theory that they're, well, idiots, and there are more important things we should be dealing with. But while we were ignoring the lunatics, they've come perilously close to taking over the asylum and turning it into a house of horrors. The very idea that C*ulter, of all people, could, in any respectable publication, be presented as a "mainstream" political figure will likely give me nightmares for weeks to come.

While we're worrying that while we were assuming the folks who disagreed with us were well-meaning, even if frequently wrong, pop on over to Steve Clemons' entry on Bolton's nomination, wherein he helps put together the evidence that the Bush Administration will see us all rot before they back down on anything they propose, no matter how crazy it is. And check out Liberal Oasis on the same topic.

To add to the fun, religious lunatics are increasing their attack on the barrier between church and state. Ahistoricality is following up on the aftermath of the Schiavo affair with a link to news that one of the (non-)activist judges has been "excommunicated" by his church for standing by the law.

Speaking more generally of religion, Atrios is talking about how everything's a gay sex problem with religion these days. Makes me laugh, when I think of how often I've complained that the Religious Right spends a scary (and rather unsavory) amount of time speculating on other people's sex lives. I always blame that old advertising axiom, "sex sells" for why today's organized religions seem to talk about sex incessantly. You can't whip the ignorant and superstitious into a frenzy over honoring their parents these days. You have to have a little T&A or, for the closeted and curious, a little D&A to get people's attention.

And, finally, right before I leave the entire vulgarity of this sex-obsessed portion of the entry, the point isn't whether or not Scalia or anyone else sodomizes his or her wife or husband, the point is that the question is offensive, whether you're gay, straight, or bi. Keep your nose out of other people's bedrooms.

So. Do you know who is spying on you and why?

Okay, let's lighten up now.

Someone with bug-smarts should scamper on over to Crooked Timber and explain Belle's ants.

Canadian Cynic says if the freepers get tired of freeping, they can take a step up the 'intellectual ladder' here. I was laughing.

On another topic, AmericaBlog still has the fundraiser note up. I've seen other blogs recently doing "annual" or other fundraising. I'm becoming increasingly uncomfortable with reading blogs where someone is asking for money from readers if I'm not contributing.

It seems these people feel they should be paid for what they're doing, and it's their right to decide that. But if I'm not paying.... Well, I've been thinking about it, and I'm going to start delisting and stop reading blogs that ask for donations if I'm not prepared to give them money.

Don't mistake me. I support their desire to cover their costs or make a profit or whatever they're wanting to do. But, because I do support it, I don't feel right about reading a blog I don't like well enough to give money to. If I'm not going to offer them financial support, the least I can do is stop adding to their costs.

I'm going to ponder this until the weekend and then probably do some changing on the blogroll.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)
April 19, 2005

It's 80 degrees in my office this afternoon. Today's first meeting was at 6:00 a.m. and it's now 3:30 and I'm starting to wilt just a trifle.

Maybe I should blog my massive frustration with Some People Today.

Reading around on so many women's blogs recently, I've been struck by how often I read complaints by women that men aren't "letting them in" to the mens' playgrounds.

And I'm thinking, "Don't wait for an invitation, just step right in. If it's a public forum, you're entitled to be there. If it's not, then start your own forum, since you're highly unlikely to be the only woman interested in whatever the topic is." But stop assuming that any place "men" are hanging out must necessarily be the center of the universe.

But I do understand what these women are saying and I find myself pondering many things, none of which, I just realized, I'm able to write a blog about today because I've tried three times and it all keeps coming out wrong.

Because there are women and there are women, and some women are perfectly comfortable in a "male behavior" environment and others are not.

More than that, there are men and there are men and some of them like nothing better than to get together with other men and act like twelve year-olds and they don't want icky girls in their club, but others are welcoming when their all-male environment is "invaded" by women.

You see? I tried to be as succinct as possible and it still came out dissing a lot of men, which really wasn't what I was trying to do. I was more wanting to diss a kind of mindset.

You see, I'm thinking it's not so much a man-woman thing as it is a child-adult thing, regardless of gender. Some forums/topics are populated by adults and people of both genders can be comfortable there.

Other forums are populated by emotional adolescents (regardless of calendar age) and anyone who is an "outsider" is probably going to be met with mockery or worse.

The problem for women is in determining if they're being met with hostility because they're women or because they're "outsiders" by the group's definition. It's possible that all women qualify as outsiders, but that doesn't mean only women qualify as outsiders. And if it's an "outsider" situation, then it's not really a matter of "discrimination" of the kind that one can do anything about.

Think of them as twelve year-old boys who form a neighborhood "gang" where the purpose is mostly just to create an "in" group so they can assure themselves they're not "out". That's what a lot of the little closed groups online are. And the groups within groups, I need hardly add, like politics. There's a big circle, and it's very inclusive, but there are also the little cliques ba-a-a-ing along behind their chosen leaders.

And realize that, like R*sh L*mb**gh's supporters and Ann C**lt*r's readers, all of these groups can only exist because of who they can exclude from their ranks.

They are "special" not by definition of who they are or what they do/say/know, but by virtue of what they're able to assure one another they're superior to. No actual superiority is required, just a cohesive group they can identify and target.

Could be women, men who don't like UNIX, bass fisherman instead of dry-fly trout anglers, men who prefer soccer to basketball, people who aren't fluent in English, gays, liberals, or anything else. The purpose is not so much who they exclude, it's that they have to exclude someone because they have no positive purpose. If they're not stomping someone down, they're not able to believe there's anyone lower than them, although that's not very gracefully worded. I think....it's like, they feel the poverty of their own lives is lessened by increasing the poverty of someone else's life.

And now I've run far, far afield from women who have trouble getting online populations that are largely masculine to crack open the door to women, and in my mind, this is about to dive into What's Wrong With the Democrats These Days, Anyhow? and I really don't have time for that at the moment.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:28 PM | Comments (2)
April 18, 2005
Idle Links

FDR left a legacy of humanity and civil rights goals rapidly being dismantled by today's radical right.

I guess we should all be thrilled to learn that the Bush Administration's hiring of private columnists to secretly push Administration policies wasn't illegal, just really stupid. (I know that I personally am thrilled to learn we're in the hands of ethically challenged imbeciles, but then I've been saying that for years.)

Old stuff, in fact, really old stuff being imaged, translated, and read. I've never heard of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, which isn't surprising, but it's still interesting news.

I don't know if Hillary Clinton wants to run for President or not, but in my humble opinion, if she doesn't want to run, the best thing she can do for the Democratic Party is to keep letting the Hysterical Right think she is going to run in '08. Because I have no problem with the mental image of them foaming at the mouth for the next three years or so.

You know, the first time I glimpsed this story, I just naturally assumed it was some kind of satire or spoof. Imagine my utter surprise to find it's just another example of the previously mentioned imbecility. If the official reports say we're lying, then let's eliminate the official reports.

John R. Bolton. A lousy choice for any public post.

I'm in a very bad mood today.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:17 PM | Comments (2)
April 17, 2005

Sorry if the blog seems to come and go today, I'm cleaning a few things up.

Also, I see there's a kerfuffle around the 'net over something called "bloglines"* and their tendency to take content from private sites and claim ownership over it or at least archive it on their own site. So I'm wondering if I shouldn't maybe add bloglines to my site's blacklist.

Other than that, I'm reading and Having Thoughts (be afraid) but nothing I'm ready to post about yet.


* Please be aware that "something called "bloglines"" is an implied but rhetorical question. I understand what it is. I just don't understand why it is, except that people have now grown too lazy to click a link and want their daily reading spoon-fed to them.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:54 PM | Comments (4)