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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

May 03, 2005
Before I Go

I was going to blog today.

There were a handful of links I wanted to comment on or speculate about.

Some odd items and some interesting ones.

A duh here, a frown there.

Sadly, I just don't have time for told-you-so's or look-at-this's.

Just imagine that I ranted for a good, long time today.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:06 PM | Comments (2)
May 02, 2005
By The Way

Although I have much to say about almost everything (as usual), I'm running out of time. I'll be out of town and off-line from Wednesday this week until Sunday evening.

Besides that, my wireless access at home went out on me yesterday. After 4+ hours on the phone trying to find someone who knew what was wrong with it, I've decided to admit defeat and buy a new wireless router.

Blogging will be light-to-nonexistent for the rest of the week.

(Besides, I'm having the site code "repaired" and streamlined so that the site will load faster and I can use the "categories" feature of MT in the future. I'd imagine Bruce would appreciate it if I stopped adding new entries faster than he can back them up.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)
May 01, 2005
Snowy Sunday

Yes, I know it's May 1. It's also snowing in Denver. Has been, off and on, since Friday. It's one of those spring snows that melts as soon as it hits the ground, so we're not getting any accumulation. Just cold winds and gray skies.

I took a look at the book Start Making Sense that Alternet is promoting. The except contains one item, Accept What We Are Powerless to Change that totally annoyed me. We're not powerless to change anything except human nature. The fact that the Rightwingnuts are fearmongering to keep themselves in power is one thing, but we can change the terms of the debate and we can force the MSM to tell the truth.

So, you know, although I'm thinking of adding Alternet to my donations list, I don't want the book because I already think it's on the wrong track. If I bought it and read it, I'm sure I'd have to say rude things about it. (I'm also really sick of us acting like we can twelve-step our way to any goal. One thing I dislike about unchangeable human nature is our tendency to believe that thinking up a catchy slogan is the same thing as doing something.)

The Bush Administration is being astonishingly low-key on North Korea's missile test. Looks like they're not as eager as they used to be to take on the "axis of terror."

And, speaking of terrorizing people, another Pentagon-contractor scandal. This one is worse than Halluburton. These guys aren't just scamming money, they're killing people. (Well, there's a big money scam going on, too.) I read, not long ago (can't remember where) about a company leaving behind a spreadsheet at a meeting that revealed fraud, but I don't remember the contracting company's name being mentioned at the time. Looks like "Custer Battles" is a name to watch.

(While you're over there, read up on San Diego's breaking corruption scandal.)

(And while you're reading up on politics and fraud, the latest story on " Republican superlobbyist Jack Abramoff." You know... reading all of these breaking investigations, I'm starting to think that our system actually still works.)

And Congress isn't as eager to push accountability up the ladder for Abu Ghraib and other sites of torture as they were a year ago, either. But, as I've said before, if the USofA public isn't screaming for accountability, we can hardly blame those whose careers could suffer if they pushed for it.

I mean, it's good news that the CIA may no longer be allowed to "ghost" detainees at military facilities but everyone who thinks they won't just stick them somewhere else, please hold up your hand.

And, speaking of potentially illegal invasions of unaggressive countries, Tony Blair is under attack for the documents that barely made the news here. While our news media was obsessing over a photogenic, runaway bride, the U.K. has been unraveling the details of the lead-up to our invasion of Iraq. It's never good when the military top brass turns on you.

The Times Online reports on the U.K.'s Elections Centre poll, though, and Blair's chances for re-election still look good. It's not that he's popular. It's that the voters really don't like the other guys.

Here at home, Norman J. Ornstein muses on why politicians have little ethical lapses.

Looks like love and marriage are not ideal partners.

I'll have to lay down and think about these things.

But later. Because this is not the way I intended to spend my day.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:02 PM | Comments (2)
Haiti

I think I'll keep shouting about this until someone in the world o'blog besides me seems to care.

There's definitely some bias in this article but that doesn't mean it's not worth reading. Haiti is still in turmoil after the USofA made a "regime change" a year or so ago.

Four months after his installation, [the new “interim” prime minister] Latortue had Yvon Neptune, the prime minister under Aristide, arrested and charged with murder. On February 11, 2004, Neptune fought and defeated an armed gang-led uprising near the village of Saint-Marc. While Aristide’s opponents claim 50 people were killed by those under Neptune’s command, the UN independent expert on human Rights in Haiti concluded “there was no massacre”. However, Latortue has pushed for his prosecution.

Now Neptune has been on a hunger strike, but it looks like he may be about to join Aristide in exile.

In the meantime, it seems that citizens of Haiti expect little from the upcoming elections. (requires registration)

Well, who can blame them? They elected their last government and look what happened.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — If there was any hope among Haitians that the departure of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide would lead to a better life, it has largely vanished during a year marked by violence, unrelenting extreme poverty, and crumbling health and educational services.

With U.N. peacekeeping troops seemingly helpless to stop the relentless criminal attacks and robberies, Haiti's promise for a democratic future, with a presidential election scheduled for the fall, hardly inspires optimism.

With U.N. peacekeeping troops seemingly helpless to stop the relentless criminal attacks and robberies, Haiti's promise for a democratic future, with a presidential election scheduled for the fall, hardly inspires optimism.

The slum-dwellers who catapulted Aristide to power say they have little knowledge or interest in the elections, and faint hope that any new government will better their lives. People say they feel ignored by the provisional government that took over after Aristide went into exile amid an uprising by armed rebels.

What is left, 14 months after Aristide, is the same sheer human misery that has plagued the small Caribbean nation for much of its tumultuous history, and sad resignation among a populace that has seen too many leaders fail to turn the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation into an economically independent democracy.

"This government doesn't look down to the poor, but up to the rich," said Johnny Paul, a 30-year-old resident of the dangerous Cite Soleil district of Port-Au-Prince, adding that he does not see any point in voting.

In Forte Dimanche, one of the Haitian capital's poorest neighborhoods, a woman and her small children methodically stirred soil, butter, salt and water with their hands one recent day, fashioning the mixture into Frisbee-sized cakes they will dry in the sun.

This is what the neighborhood families eat.

Next to the family's makeshift outdoor kitchen was a foreboding and dank cement building, a place the hated Tonton Macoutes — government police during the Duvalier dictatorships that ruled Haiti — used as torture chambers. The structure was burned in December, during fights between local police and gangs.

This is where they sleep.

Two small pits in the yard hold human bones — the remains, local residents said, of people killed during gang fights in December. The children in this neighborhood aren't among the 60 percent of Haitian youngsters who are able to go to school, and unemployment — officially 80 percent in Haiti — is the norm.

Maybe these same problems existed before we stepped in and removed their government, but the USofA and the U.N. aren't making things any better.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:21 AM | Comments (2)
Looking Back

I was nodding as I read the teaser for this:

Divisive war haunts the US more than the people it fought

I don't know how much it haunts the people of Vietnam, but I know it haunts me. It's odd, considering that for most of that era, I was far too young to have any idea about what was happening, but it's true.

Possibly it's subconscious memories of news reports. Some of my earliest memories are of the television playing in the background; the nightly news filled with words spoken in hushed voices.

Mei Lei. Casualties. Massacre. American dead. Napalm. Dead. Agent Orange. Dead. Retreat. Dead. Deforestation. Dead. Body bags. Dead. Dead. Dead.

Those words, and the pictures that went with them, have the power to move me still.

The truth is, though, that I didn't so much grow up with the war as I grew up with the aftermath. Men with haunted eyes and shaking hands. Men only a little older than myself who were tight-lipped and radiating pain, years after they left the battlefield.

War is hell.

I think that's a lot of what ails the Democratic Party today, in reference to Iraq.

The Left protested the war, but not just the Left. Many millions of people didn't want us fighting that war. For decades, those of us too young to remember or too far away to see for ourselves have been told that returning soldiers were met with near-universal contempt and abuse, that the legacy of our protests is that we hurt no one but the men who'd been in battle. And we've been ashamed.

Eric Alterman gives us a very brief history of the 40 years that led up to the Bush Administration. Brief and selective, but worth reading.

Timing-wise, I went from that to Mahablog and read about The Persistence of False Memory.

Sigh. (I could write a lot, at the moment, about how this determination on the part of the Wingnut Right to turn this country into a tool for their own ends robbed us of much of our faith in each other and our systems of government, but I don't want to get side-tracked.)

Still. Whether the stories are true or not, that's what we've all been told for decades. That we committed unforgivable sins against returning soldiers. It's universally "known" to be true so whether it's true or not, it affects our behavior.

I think that's why we don't hear what we expect to hear from the leadership on the Left about Iraq. Whether they know/remember the truth or not, they're afraid of being tarred with the same brush today. That makes them afraid to speak out too strongly.

How do you protest a war without offending or seeming unsupportive of the men (and women) actually fighting it? Especially when those in favor of the war can command the support of the MSM and can count on it to print lies in their favor?

Well, I think that bothers those who should be leading us from the Left.

(That, and they don't have any more idea than the men who started the killing do about how to salvage the situation. Clearly we can't leave Iraq until some measure of stability and safety are available to the ordinary citizens whose lives we've trashed and just as clearly there won't be true stability until we've left.)

I find myself wondering if John Kerry and the Democratic leadership wanted to win in November. If they did, they'd have won the fallout of George Bush's punitive invasion of Iraq.

I'm just sort of speculating out loud, you understand. I know you know I'm no expert.

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