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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

May 13, 2005
Surfing the Blogs

Cynical me. As I was driving home this evening, I was thinking that those proposed military base closures could be ammunition in the political war in D.C. I was thinking that a cross-check of states that voted against Bush or states with troublesome Democratic Senators against the states that have bases closing might be interesting to contemplate.

I thought about Daschle's South Dakota replacement...a Republican who ran on the, "I can protect your jobs" platform in a state where the military base is the second-largest employer in the state. I listened to NPR's reporter explain that typically about 85% of the initially "proposed" base closures go through...giving the White House plenty of cover to "change their mind" about South Dakota, for instance, making wossname a hero in the state.

Turns out I wasn't cynical enough.

I was too cynical in the matter of Doctor (hah!) Hager. The 'alleged' rapist is resigning next month.

Also on Alas, we all told you that the new Pope was an Inquisition kind of guy.

And I don't often disagree with Kevin and Matt but I do this time. I don't want to hear, "lighten up and change your stance on an issue." I am so sick of the Imitation Left shuffling to the Right that I could scream.

You either have principles or you don't. You can compromise on the things that don't matter much, yes, but the separation of church and state is vitally important, and certainly all the more so today when we have religious fanatics starting holy wars for god and oil around the world.

Cough. Sorry. Anyhow, I'm not alone in this feeling. Thankfully.

(Also? Doesn't their bible say something about not strutting around in public bragging about how pious you are? Isn't that one of the no-nos? I'm sure it is. Something about sitting in your closet to do your praying or something. Could someone remind them about that? And I don't know if there's anything in the text about fetishizing the 10 Commandments but purely from a "spirit of the Founders" perspective, forcing citizens to do their public business in buildings slathered with texts from someone else's religion sounds a bit dubious.

David Neiwert's posts are never less than disturbing and never less than exceptionally good reading. In this case, he posts yet another warning against the ugly climate on the rise in our "free" society.

The RealID Act. Be afraid. Be very afraid

The place of blogging in the news culture. Yes, I know. Read it anyhow.

A heartening story of corporate courage.

Sometimes I just need a laugh. Ideological goobers. Heeheehee.

And in the seriously good news category is the revelation that John Cleese is writing the next Wallace and Gromit movie!

I suspect I put on at least three pounds reading this menu and looking at the pictures. (Via Avedon Carol)

For the women...beware of Estrogen Terrorism. (Via Rox Populi.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)
As Mad As Hell

In Uzbekistan, they're storming the castle (metaphorically, of course) to protest unemployment, poverty, and injustice.

Nine more newly freed Afghans have died in anti-USofA protests.

After a car bombing, Iraqis erupt in more violence, protesting the endless war zone they're trapped in.

Students in Nepal are angry. They've "closed down schools and colleges nationwide in continuation of their protests over a police firing last month that left three student leaders injured."

Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Israel are shelling each other.

Also in Lebanon, Christians are angry because they say rules for the upcoming election will unfairly favor Muslims.

Thousands in India are protesting a grenade attack outside a school.

I wish I had something pithy to say to round off this entry, but I don't. All over the world, people are as mad as hell. A lot of them are rightfully mad at us. Those who aren't, aren't because they're in places our government doesn't really care about, so we haven't bothered to help, or hinder, their lives, but that's not really the point.

These people want more out of life. Nothing fancy. Most of these people don't want an IPod or an XBox or stock options.

They want peace. Economic security. Justice. Respect. Some of the fundamental things many of us in this country take for granted, but others are still struggling for.

A shrinking percentage of the world's population is able to rise each and every morning, secure in the knowledge that they will have no trouble eating and that they won't land in jail for walking down the wrong street at the wrong moment.

Millions upon millions of people don't have that luxury.

The world deserves a better solution than what we've offered them during the Bush years.

It deserves more than illegal invasions and arrogant presumptions and dictatorial rules around health care and widespread corruption and fraud.

Every day, people in this country carelessly toss away more freedom, more self-determination, and more democracy than most of the rest of the world ever sees.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)
May 12, 2005
Evening Blogging

I don't really have anything to say. It's just that I can either blog, or clean the kitchen. So I decided to check a few headlines.

It does seem unlikely that 65 students can convince the world to wage peace, not war, but every world-wide organization started somewhere. When you consider the economic danger of not waging war, it does seem that the world has backed itself into something of a corner but surely the "civilized world" can find something more appropriate to dedicate its production capacity to?

Looks like neither Mark Thatcher nor any of his posse are going to be facing any jail time in Zimbabwe.

By gosh, lookit that. Voinovich stands up for what's right...and what's not.

Tonight's NPR story is about Bolton, too. I'm driving home, listening to some arrogant yahoo sneer about how we're not sending someone to the U.N. to drink coffee with his pinkie sticking in the air and I'm thinking...no wonder 'they' hate us. We're a bigoted bunch of thugs these days, aren't we?

The story also contained the astounding information that Condaleeza Rice promises that Bolton won't be naughty when he's at the U.N. because she'll be watching him. And then my heart was brightened immeasurably because the interviewer asked if we really want to send the kind of person to the U.N. who has to be "watched." (Another Senatorial quote, not included in the article, was along the lines of, "If Bolton had pulled this shit in Corporate America, he'd have gotten fired.")

(Later note: David Corn has a more accurate post.)

Lest you think the prison abuse issue is yesterday's news, take a look at another report of the violence in Afghanistan. (Okay. Seriously? I'm thrilled that the Afghan people feel secure enough to riot. At the same time, I know that desecrating their object of holiness isn't going to persuade the religious extremists that we respect their beliefs. )

Was a USofA contractor killed by the random violence, or is it a case of assassination and cover-up? Considering that the scenario proposed requires that the US and UK leadership were complicit in looting Iraq's weaponry, the presence of which might help to alleviate the fallout over the lack of WMD, I'm finding myself amazingly skeptical. And then, of course, I read that there's rather a lot of money ($300M) involved and it sounds a bit more plausible. I love a bit of paranoid conspiracy-theorist perspective from time to time. Granted, the guy's credentials look like smoke, mirrors, and sleight-of-hand, but so do other contractors we're enriching funding in Iraq. The idea that at least one of them is a CIA front has occurred to me in the past.

Speaking of.... Just exactly what did Republicans get up to to defeat Carter and usher in the disastrous Reagan years?

Military recruiting in the USofA is having a few problems these days, but do they really think lying about the term of enlistment is going to fool anyone? I mean...we've all heard of "stop-loss" right?

And online coverage was hard to find (you can listen to audio here), but it looks like France is edging toward voting oui on the EU constitution after all. (Congrats to The Guardian on their Webby! I thoroughly approve of the publication being named the "best newspaper on the internet.)

Speaking of the U.K., it looks like they're sending an MP over to take on the Senate. George Galloway isn't at all amused at being implicated in the Iraq "oil-for-food" scandal.

(Speaking of the Senate, let's all hold our breaths and wish really hard that the Democrats hold the line on Pryor. Giving him a recess appointment was just an offensive way to force an up-or-down vote on a nominee whose nomination was seen as divisively controversial.)

And, speaking of the U.K. and France and the EU, I'm rather ashamed that I wasn't aware that the French oui might signal Blair's bye-bye. European politics are a mystery to me...but then, the things that happen here frequently mystify me as well. Anyhow, I wasn't aware that there's some reason to believe if the French are in, the U.K. is out. The article was certainly educational for me. At heart, the issue is one of globalization. Are the countries of the world inevitably moving together...or are they going to resist that movement with all they power they have? (And is the USofA's recent idiotic behavior going to incline more countries to band together to create the "United States of Europe" in order to counter our increasing radicalism?) Or, as the article suggests, would the U.K. prefer to ally itself with Eastern European countries in a looser conglomerate? I find myself wondering if the U.K. will find itself facing a choice between the USofA and the USofE?

This Chris Floyd guy who's always in the Moscow Times sure doesn't like the Bush family. Seems to me when I find myself reading him, he's always taking potshots at them. So I went looking to find out who he is. It's not really relevant. I just love the internet, that's all.

People of good sense continue to point out that religion and evolution aren't mutually exclusive but the Religious Right probably isn't listening.

In the good news department, a federal judge struck down Nebraska's same-sex marriage ban. (Nebraska tried to amend their state constitution.) Apparently it was because it wasn't well-written, but any progress in a crisis....

Mark Fiore takes on the Right's plan for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Conservatubbies Rule the Toob (flash) Tune in, Turn on, Turn right.

After I finished that, I went and watched Grocery Store Wars with Obi Wan Cannoli, Young Cuke and the Organic Rebellion fight the Death Melon and Darth Tater.

What Wal-Mart fails to comprehend is that a neighborhood's voters electing not to enjoy the economic devastation of a local big-box store is democracy in action. Which means that comparing it to Nazis burning books is ridiculous and offensive. (For what it's worth, I feel the Nazis had the right to burn books if they wanted to. I don't approve, but it wasn't anyone's business but Germany's if they wanted to raise a generation of mindless illiterates.)

Why don't we trust the media? Lack of disclosure might be part of it. If you're taking money from The Man, you should admit it when you publish. (Maybe they should just label it Bullshit and be done with it?) Also repeated revelations of fabricated stories aren't really encouraging. I mean, if you were wondering. I applaud the news media for openly admitting these things while I'm confused about why journalists tell lies. I mean, it's not like we're actually running out of news or anything, you know?

Did I mention this book review yet? Professor DeLong on Richard Parker's John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics. I don't know if I'm smart enough to understand the book, but the review itself was fascinating.

I know...I should shut up and go clean the kitchen. (Seriously, I'm going to try and cut down on these ridiculously long posts.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:09 PM | Comments (0)
On A Day When I'm Much-Annoyed

Is the USofA media doing the Saddam Shuffle over North Korea?

Let's have a vote.

___ Do you think the Congressional 'majority leader' is "slowly and deliberately in an effort to put Republicans in a strong position heading into a showdown with Democrats" on the judicial filibuster issue?

____ Or, do you think Republicans are stalling, secure in the knowledge that no issue stays on the front page for long and if they just bide their time, people will stop paying attention and they can do whatever they want?

It's just wrong to laugh at inappropriate humor that insults respectable dogs, so I didn't laugh. Honestly.

And I'm not even going to start with the Mule Man, except to point out that while some people are doing admirable work discussing the mechanics of accommodating openly homosexual soldiers in the military, they're entirely forgetting the range of perversions and predations that some ostensibly "heterosexual" men seem to be prone to.

(And I maintain, as I always have, that most men worry too much about being abused by a gay man. Most of you aren't that attractive to most gay men, okay? So feel free to fall asleep at night.)

(Although...if more men in the army started having to worry about being raped, maybe they'd give a shit more about the statistics around female soldiers being raped?)

(That sounds like I'm hoping that men have to have that fear...which is not how I mean it. I just mean that while the debate over Our Straight Boys maybe getting some homo-cooties rages on quite publicly, the plight of women in the military is, as the plight of women is prone to be, a matter of indifference to the MSM and, it would seem, most of the general public.) (Do you ever get started on a sentence that just refuses to end?)

I've been thinking about the potential for a Denver convention. If they held it here, I'd try to get in, no doubt about it. I probably couldn't because I'm not a registered Democrat (I'll join their party when they join the Left half of the political spectrum) and no one's going to offer me "blogger credentials" but I'd be fascinated to attend. Opinions I got (although not, apparently, grammar), but I'm no kind of "journalist."

You know, one reason I don't support the current idea of "immigration reform" is because of the kind of thing that's said in defense of it. Like this morning, on NPR, as usual, I heard someone explain that if we create a "guest worker" program, then we can make the thousands of illegal aliens currently in the country come forward, pay a fine, pay back taxes on the money they earned before, learn English, and conform to "American values." I'm offended on so many levels I don't know where to start.

I do them the courtesy of assuming that the Bush Administration didn't know their appointee to the FDA's " Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)," Dr. W. David Hager, was an abusive rapist with, in my opinion, demonstrable mental problems. I do them the courtesy of assuming they care.

"Vetting" doesn't seem to be a thing the Bush Administration cares about. I blogged this guy before, but the bad news just keeps on coming.

I also blogged this story before, but you need to read it again. Priscilla Owens is unfit to sit on any Bench.

This is NOT Your Father's GOP (Click a link while you're over there.)

I don't often disagree with Prometheus, but I do today. I'm a smoker, okay? I understand it's bad for me, it may kill me, and it may lead me to higher health costs. Because of that, I wouldn't object to paying higher rates for my insurance...except for one thing.

That's the kind of thing that never ends. Next thing you know, people who drink more than a moderate and approved amount will be made to pay higher rates, just 'cause they're drunks and we don't like drunks and anyhow what about their livers? Then people who are convicted illegal drug users...or prescription drug abusers, will have to pay more. (I'm looking at you-know-who.)

Then...you knew this one was coming, didn't you...homosexuals, on account of all them gay diseases and they get too much sex and anyhow that one down the street was looking at me funny the other day.

After that, clinically obese people will be made to pay more for their insurance on the grounds that they're deliberately endangering their own health. Then people who eat too much fried food. Then people who don't eat fried food, but also don't eat green vegetables. Then people who don't eat fried food and who do eat green vegetables, but who don't get the approved 30 minutes of exercise daily. Then people who live in high crime areas, places where they're at increased risk of being the victim of a violent crime.

The problem with "sin taxes" (and this is just an insurance company's version of a "sin tax") is that people will keep defining what "sin" is until it includes everyone they personally don't like.

I care nothing about Bush apparently not being notified that yet another White House evacuation was underway. For one thing, I've always maintained that Bush isn't actually, you know, in charge of the country, and I notice that VP Cheney was safely evacuated, so our "leadership," such as it is, was protected. For another...well, there are a lot of things we could be talking about. Why waste our time?

There are no less than six articles and columns on the WaPo front page about this non-event.

More important stories have to fight for the remaining space.

For instance, I personally care a helluva lot more about a fighting squad in Iraq that's suffered a 60% casualty rate.

(Mr. MacMillan? Shut up and drive. I promise you, if you get into an accident and kill yourself or someone else, you will abruptly know just how unimportant those phone calls really were.) (If your headset is that uncomfortable, get a new one. Sheesh.)

(Mr. Broder? Delusional much? The only similarity between Bush being awarded the Presidency in 2000 and Washington's Christine Gregoire winning the Gubernatorial vote in 2004 is that the races were close. Unlike Bush's ill-starred "win" in 2000, Gregoire was placed into office because counting the votes gave her the win. You're using some pretty pathetic arguments when even I can spot that lies without research.)

Maybe stuff like this is why we no longer have investigative journalists? Are they all afraid of being sued for investigating?

Maybe we've found what's wrong with PBS's programming, too. Do they feel shame about taking taxpayer dollars and using them to expose government problems? Is anyone else as appalled as I am by the fact that that question made it into print in a reasonably serious publication?

David Brooks is a White House flunky now? I'm not getting all my memos. (Of course...I could have assumed that from past columns....)

I came back to town this week to discover that Atrios has either developed multiple-personality disorder, or he's got some mighty-fine guest bloggers working on his site. Attaturk was a new voice to me. I'm impressed.

I don't often go to the movies, but I'd go to this one. I understand it's available for viewing on-line. I'm not sure I'm up to a 3-hour documentary on my laptop's rather inadequate screen, but I rather suspect that this is one of those films I really should see.

From here (the Village Voice dissing the new Huffington blog), I got to here and once again found myself marveling at the number of on-line resources I've never heard of.

I followed a link to this and got aggravated all over again, but whatever, I am determined to stay calm today.

The more I broaden my world o'blog reading, the more I wonder why I bother to post at all. I should just point everyone to the good stuff.

I keep wanting to say something about this series but every time I look at the picture, I hurt.

And I read this, and I hurt.

And then I read this and I think maybe they're wrong because I was too young to protest Vietnam and while I understand that the anger could have been corrosive and harmful, screaming into the silence of the internet hasn't made the vast midde-class complacency of the USofA sit up and give a damn about the pain we're causing to ourselves and the world.

That's enough, more than enough, for one lunch hour.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:55 PM | Comments (2)
We're A Fortunate People

Fortunately not all of the economic news is bad. Halliburton just won itself $72 million in bonuses for doing such a fabbo job in Iraq, which should warm the hearts of their stockholders.

And fortunately, we're still a free society, which makes it easy for bigots to stand up and make racist remarks without getting arrested or, as far as I can tell, even frowned at by the general public.

Fortunately, being self-delusional is also still permitted. That means we can pretend something like this is evidence of a progressive tax revolt instead of just another step in the process of dismantling our strong, central government and replacing it with more independent state governments.

(And, with stronger state governments, we might find ourselves fortunate enough to be poor, sick, and mistreated, with no pesky federal interference. *)

And, speaking of fortunate self-delusions, how delusional do you have to be to think 65 people can make a difference? Fortunately the world's trillion-dollar war industry keeps humming along, in spite of peaceniks.

Fortunately, hypocrisy still isn't a crime. Other things are, though. Even if you're a Republican. **

Fortunately, making the same mistakes over and over is also legal, so the "leadership of "the Left" is free to spend a lot of money doing the wrong thing.

We're fortunate that not all the healthcare news is bad. Children can still get medical treatment they may or may not need, even if they have to be held down and stuffed with drugs to make it happen. (Elsewhere in the "civilized world" a few other people are, sometimes, also this fortunate.)

Are we fortunate that whistle-blowing on the government itself is not quite illegal, yet, so we find ourselves reading about just how evil we're becoming?

Fortunately we're still Number One! And we don't have to take orders from anyone, so if we decide some suspected terrorists are entitled to our protection (or even payment) instead of our usual treatment, then that's what we decide We sure don't have to care what other people think of us, do we? (You, there! In the back, with the frown on your face? You watch yourself. Enemies of the State, and all that, you know.)

I worry that I'm turning into a conspiracy theorist

__________________________

* I heard this covered on NPR*** yesterday morning. It was...astonishing. It seems that the thinking is that if these poor, sick, elderly, and disabled Medicaid recipients have their benefits removed, maybe they'll get off their butts and find themselves jobs. Meanwhile, of course, cutting Medicaid means cutting those jobs held by minimum-wage healthcare workers struggling to provide care for the Medicaid population, further swelling the ranks of the poor and unemployed.

Also, what Missouri essentially wants to do is to eliminate their Medicaid program almost entirely by...can't quite remember the date. 2007 or 2012 or something.

__________________________

** Seriously. I'm starting to understand the Right's obsession with gay sex, aren't you? They're all fixated on it because they're all closeted.

__________________________

*** NPR From then to now.****

__________________________

**** Speaking of NPR, this morning I heard about the "compromise" some Congressmen are trying to work out over judicial nominees. They're trying to work out a way to get "more up-or-down votes" for nominees. The mind boggles. Bush has had an astonishing number of nominees confirmed, many of whom were, by my lights, nutcases. The fact that the Democratic Party choked on the last seven radical wingnuts is just a sign that some vague sense of liberalism does still exist in Congress. If Bush wants seven more nominees confirmed, let him nominate some people qualified for the jobs.

In case I'm not making myself clear, I don't support any compromise on this issue. If the MSM in this country had the courage to just run front-page stories with each nominee's name and their most notable accomplishments, most of the country would be with me on this. Failing that, I hope Congressional Democrats keep both hands on their spines and stand firm in the face of neocon idiocy.


Posted by AnneZook at 07:47 AM | Comments (0)
May 10, 2005
Now I'm Back

And, wow, things are so amazingly not improved since I gave myself a 4-day break from the news headlines.

To begin with, I'm sure everyone is all over the story about the faulty combat vests, so I won't dwell on it.

And then there's "15,527." That's a lot of insurgent attacks in nine months. (The article is also about nonaccountability.)

War is ugly, even if we tell ourselves it's a "good" war.

More on the Nemagon story.

Is the Senate growing a backbone?

Need I say that if we stop handing out tax cuts to the wealthy, we can afford roads? (Or, maybe it's all pointless, because the future will look so very different.)

We really do live in a ridiculously indulgent and pointless society.

There's a ton more I'm tempted to comment on, but I need to take a trip through the world o'blog first and see what everyone else is thinking about.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:34 AM | Comments (5)