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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

June 10, 2005
Bolivia, Redux

A positive view of Chavez's revolution.

The (temporary) new leader has promised early elections.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)
Mixed Topics

ANWR

Read and act.

Campaign Costs

How much does a political campaign cost? Is there another way?

Terrorism

Marion County is going after rightwing terrorists here at home.

Comet-catching

I'm just hoping that whatever technology we're using to spear this comet isn't drawn from the disastrous "star wars defense" project.

My Humble Opinion

If I'd received the letter from (Mar)Kos, I would have considered it a threat. I do not agree with his assessment of Carol Darr's letter as "bizarre." Rather, I see her as concerned. Nor do I feel that she expressed "anger" in her letter. Basically, I think he's just jumping off the tracks on this one.

(I actually think IPDI's original comments to the FCC make a lot of sense. Much more sense than Kos's attempt at rebuttal. The truth is that some bloggers do to be allowed to be everything, without regulation, which is ridiculous. This isn't a kid's game. This is where the Big Boys play. If some bloggers want to play on that field, they have to follow the same rules.)

(I'm probably wrong. I usually am about these "points of law" types of thing. I'm probably basing too much of my opinion on my perception of Markos's arrogance and rudeness and my perception of Darr's response as thoughtful and concerned.)

Postscript

Please. Whatever you do, make sure you're raped in the right place.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:13 PM | Comments (2)
Propaganda

The DoD is back to producing propaganda to spread their talking points overseas. Why am I not surprised that they're "outsourcing" the work?

The nice thing about contractors is that they add an additional level of "deniability." If any of those "disinformation campaigns" do make it back across the pond, as they will inevitably do, and if any of them cause outrage, the Bush Administration can blame it all on the contractors.

(Okay, now that I've been rude, let me point out that I don't object to the USofA government trying to explain itself. I'd rather they told the truth, but I understand that half of the folks below Cabinet-level probably don't know what's true any more (and maybe not the ones at and above). Also, in spite of my sarcasm, I do understand the use and value of a disinformation campaign when it's directed against the Bad Guys. The problem is that I'm not sure this Administration knows who the actual Bad Guys are.) (Besides, now that it's hitting the news that Rumsfeld approved torture interrogation techniques including things specifically targeted to degrade Iraqi POW's religious beliefs and practices, we really need some decent propaganda.)

The contract calls for the firms to produce print articles, video and audio broadcasts, Internet sites and novelty items, like T-shirts and bumper stickers, for foreign audiences.

Video products will include newscasts, hour-long TV shows and commercials.

You suppose they're going to label all of this stuff as Made In the U.S.A.?

Man Behind Wal-Mart's Book-Burning Ad Quits

Good. Invoking Nazi imagery to protest the refusal of people to have your crummy stores in their neighborhoods was an insulting piece of propaganda.

If we'd wanted actual terrorists to fight...we could have tried these people.

Uganda's army said this latest attack near a camp in Kitgum district proved the LRA was on the verge of defeat.

"This was another desperate action by the rebels to prove that they still exist," said army spokesman Lieutenant Tabaro Kiconco. "We condemn it and we will punish those bandits."

Sounds much like the propaganda talking points the Bush Administration offers us on Iraq, doesn't it?

(Sometimes I don't know until after I've finished writing a post that I'm in a cynical sort of mood.)

Posted by AnneZook at 12:21 PM | Comments (2)
Bolivia

So, we're evacuating people from our embassy.

This Travel Warning is being issued to warn American citizens of continued political unrest in Bolivia. The Department of State has authorized the departure of non-emergency U.S. Embassy personnel and all eligible family members of U.S. Embassy personnel and urges all U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to Bolivia. This Travel Warning supersedes the Public Announcement issued June 1, 2005.
Posted by AnneZook at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)
June 09, 2005
Other Things

Africa's wealth can save Africa. Now there's a novel idea.

I'm...appalled. Rape is a heinous crime. Anything a woman can do to prevent it, she should be allowed to do. But...wearing this will get her killed. (At the same time, I find myself wondering just how prevalent the crime is that someone actually invented and marketed such a device? How many rapes are happening in South Africa?)

Looks like while us voters are trying to decide what the Democrats should stand for, a group of "centrist" government Democrats think deciding those things is their job.

Are "they" trying to hide something, and if so, what, about POWs?

In case you're wondering why we haven't heard anything about investigating DeLay for those too-many-to-count ethics violations, well, it seems like the committee heads are fighting over the appointment of a partisan Republican that the Democrats object to.

Posted by AnneZook at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)
Outrage

There is no level upon which this is not wrong. If you feel inclined, drop Zach a note of support for what he's going through.

Or, since he's off in a Re-education Camp by now, being taught not to be gay, write a letter to your nearest government official and tell them the bigotry, hatred, and lies have to stop.

(Via Paul the Spud.)

Posted by AnneZook at 03:27 PM | Comments (0)
Terrorism In Washington

Or..sorry. That should say "Terrorism and Washington, shouldn't it?

U.S. Wants Gitmo Prisoners Held at Home .

The United States would rather have detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp imprisoned by their home countries, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday.

Of course they would. Anything to avoid the USofA Constitution.

If we've had 200 trials of "terrorists" then I've missed it. Anyone here know when and where these happened?

While they're expanding their power to spy on you, some of our elected officials are trying to safeguard your power to see what the hell they're up to.

(And speaking of spying on people...did you know we had a "space spies" program?) (Does that sound to anyone but me like the title of a bad Disney "family" film?)

Five Arrests in Terror Investigation

Bush's approval numbers must be tanking again.

Posted by AnneZook at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)
Down South

What in the hell is "neoliberalism? And why is Bush trying to shove it down Latin America's throat? (One thing I'm sure of is that if Bush is praising it, it's not really liberalism.)

What is Rice up to? (Or, rather, what has the Bush Administration told Rice to be up to?)

I do not support Free Trade.

Doesn't look like Latin America does, either.

And what about Bolivia? (How can I spend four hours a day reading various news sites and not be told that things are heating up in Bolivia? What should I be reading that I'm missing?)

More here.

A Nation Holds its Breath

I am writing this from an Internet Cafe on the Plaza Principal of Cochabamba, where some 3,000 people are gathered after a march to the city center. The Congress session in Sucre has been delayed until this afternoon. Huge crowds have reportedly descended on the city to prevent Congress from going into session.

The chilling expression on the lips of my friends here is, a las puertas de la guerra civil, at the gates of civil war. Could the Congress be so stupid as to install a new President, when that action will surely spark violent confict. But the question on the other side is, What strategy does the US government and the Bolivian elite have left to protect the powers on which both feed here?

Read it.

And then be grateful, because the USofA has identified the problem in the situation. Yes, it's Venezuela's Chavez. Again. He's not killing his countrymen. That kind of stuff sets a bad example for others, doncha know.

Is this starting to look to anyone but me like the same kind of ramp-up to war we had before we invaded Iraq? (Just sarcasm...I know not even the Bush Administration can be dumb enough to start waging war on a third front.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:51 PM | Comments (2)
10 Questions - 10 - Foreign Policy Contract
10. Derek’s point. What’s your agenda? You’re full of criticism and have had a field day with John Bolton, but I haven’t heard many ideas coming from your quarter. If you had to draw up a foreign policy “contract” to offer the American people, what would be in it?

I'm sorry, but my "foreign policy" isn't about killing people. I know that will disappoint many people, and convince others that I really am living in a fantasy world, but I'm like that.

I was taught, "What gets measured, gets done." As long as our foreign policy is all about war (yesterday's, today's, tomorrow's), then war is all we'll see in the future. As long as the world's superpower is constantly jockeying for position in the next war, the rest of the world will be focusing on that war as well.

We deserve a better future than that.

We need a new dedication to finding non-military solutions to international problems.

I'd live up to our principles, even in international relations, whenever possible.

I'd offer demilitarization of the planet. A sustained and sincere commitment to aid developing countries with bread, not bullets. Books, not bombs. A commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.

(I realize this would mean a massive shift in our internal economy as we move away from so much focus on military spending and weapons development but I rather suspect that we could find alternate uses for our time and brainpower.)

A promise to avoid secret deals that have us working with crooks and terrorists to undermine other governments. (I accept that many of these "deals" have had the best of motives, but the ends don't justify the means...and, more pragmatically, the results don't justify the approach.)

An agreement to stop funding and supporting evil regimes for their oil. (And to prevent, when at all possible, USofA "multinational" corporations from going around the rules for financial profit.)

An apology to those we have vilified for disagreeing with us and a promise not to do it again. An agreement to act, in the future, like a civilized member of an international body and not a lunchroom full of delinquents about to start a food fight.

An ongoing, unwavering commitment to the global ecology. A free exchange of ideas around clean, renewable energy sources. Everyone needs power. (How many problems would be solved in Iraq if we could just get the damned power running?)

An international forum to discuss the reach, and limits, of international law. A renewed support of the Geneva Conventions.

Yes, a reform in the United Nations. Support Kofi Annan, instead of trying to tear him down. Stop being part of the problem and help to create real solutions.

Maybe we've heard "reform" before and maybe it never got us very far down the road and now we're cynical and disinclined to cooperate. Well, boo-hoo. If it has to be done one, tiny step at a time, then that's how we'll do it, but we should never reject any call for reform.

I'm not saying changes like these will be fast. Or easy. Or that everyone will believe us, at first. But I'm saying we should try to lead by force of example.

And that means not pretending prisoners taken in the "war on terror" aren't prisoners of war and aren't entitled to be treated humanely. It's not just wrong. It doesn't help us, okay?

That also means not unilaterally (essentially) invading non-aggressive countries.

It means not sticking our heads in the sand about global warming.

It means not trying desperately to avoid spending money to stop the slaughter in Darfur so we can continue to fund the slaughter in Iraq.

We're America. With liberty and justice for all.

Let's act like it.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)
10 Questions - 9 (Force)
9. Use of Force. Under what circumstances do you think the U.S. is justified using military power without UN imprimatur? Is it only in self-defense? Only when one of the UN Security Council members has what we judge to be a self-interested reason for trying to block what we propose? Is the fact that the rest of the world “just doesn’t get it” enough of a justification for us to act alone? If not, what do we do when others simply refuse to recognize what we view as a real threat?

Rarely, probably, maybe, no, and it depends.

How can I make absolute responses without concrete examples?

Posted by AnneZook at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)
10 Questions - 8 (International Law)
8. International Law. When push comes to shove, who would you rather have as the arbiter of what’s considered “legal” in international relations – some tribunal, court, or multi-national forum, or the U.S. government? Doesn’t it worry you to vest more and more power in bodies over which the U.S. has no control, and that – while they may have a great many perfectly respectable members – also include countries that are single-mindedly out to get us? I understand why smaller countries want stronger international legal regimes and multilateral organizations (in significant part to hem us in), but isn't the calculus different for the U.S.?

For what's "legal" in international relations, I'd rather have an international body of law. Maybe a stronger U.N. could help prevent things like Guantanamo? (But I'm touched by the assumption, or is it a pretense, that the USofA is always going to "do the right thing." I used to believe things like that....)

Also, a body of international law will take into account that there are more cultures than ours in the world, and that other cultures and other societies have rights, too.

Smaller countries have much to gain from the U.N., yes, but I think our invasion of Iraq proves that smaller countries have something to fear if nothing like the U.N. existed. If we are willing to invade another country without even the pretext of aggression....

Think of the U.N. as an international democracy...it's there to protect the weak, not to allow the strong to take all the pie. There's enough pie to go around, if no one gets greedy.

If that means we give more than we get, well, so what? We have a lot. We can share.

Besides, it's naïve to think the U.N. offers us no benefits, or that a stronger U.N. wouldn't offer us more benefits.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)
10 Questions - 6 (Military)
6. Overextended Military. If you’re so attuned to the stressed placed on the military and the frustrations that members of the armed forces feel with the current leadership and approach, then how come more servicemembers don’t vote your way? Don’t you realize that all your concern over the need for diplomacy and getting others on board makes the military (and many other citizens) afraid that you won’t be willing to fight back against terrorists and others who threaten us?

Well, I could start by pointing out that the Right offers a lot of propaganda about their ability and willingness to wage war, preying on the ignorance of the average citizen about the realities of our history with war, but I won't.

I could also start by debating whether or not the rank and file of USofA soldiers were panting at the starting gate, eager and anxious to go over and single-handedly stomp all over Iraq. But I won't.

I could make a few pithy, and quite rude, remarks about elective war in the hands of amateurs, but I won't do that either.

I categorically deny that the average soldier thinks that having multiple countries assisting in this or any war is a bad idea.

I also deny that the average citizen would believe that exercising common sense is the same thing as cowardice, if the Right didn't keep telling them so.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)
10 Questions - 4 (Democratization)
4. Democratization: You go on and on about how democracy cannot be forced on other countries. Does the promotion of democracy belong as a U.S. foreign policy priority and, if so, what's your strategy for getting it done? Will you do anything beyond lending a helping hand to dissidents and NGOs and hoping for the best? Don't fledgling democrats expect more from the U.S.; what are you prepared to deliver? Or have you now decided that democratization is the province of conservatives?

I'd say that the promotion of openness, of individual freedom, and the rule of just law should be priorities. As long as a country's citizens have the freedom to dissent, to leave, and to live their lives under the protection of laws that prevent brutality and oppression, their form of government is none of our business.

Do I prefer democracy? I do. But it's not democracy if you shove it down someone's throat at gunpoint, is it?

Also, you made a giant leap there...from us "promoting democracy" around the world to "helping fledgling democracies." Those aren't the same topics.

Yes, I think we should help fledgling democracies.

What should we deliver? What do they want or need? (Is there any sense in acting like a "fledgling democracy" in South America and a "fledgling democracy" in the Middle East are going to have the same needs?)

(Should conservatives be left to handle "democratization?" Since they suck at it, no.)

Posted by AnneZook at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)
10 Questions - 3 (Nukes)
3. Non-Proliferation: What would you really do differently on non-proliferation? Your criticisms center on process more than substance, and its not clear that Bill Clinton’s policies were any more effective than Bush’s. Do you really believe treaties are the answer, and that verification can protect us against dangerous cheaters? You keep saying non-pro's a top priority for you, but how exactly – in a broad sense – would your approach depart from that of the Bush Administration?

Non-proliferation, huh? Tough one. I support it. I don't know how to do it.

My first step of substance would be to actually start disposing of our ridiculously bloated stockpile of nuclear weapons. And to stop research, now, on all the new kinds of nukes we're exploring.

Then I'd meet the other nuclear nations at the table to honestly discuss our options. Lead by example. (To be honest, I don't know if this dangerous spiral can be stopped, but I think it's worth trying.)

(Speaking of hypocrisy.... Telling most of the world that nukes are evil and will stunt your growth, while we openly explore more and newer nuclear weapons...that's world-class hypocrisy.)

Nuclear weapons are difficult to build. They're expensive. They're dangerous. How many countries would be diverting that kind of money from their economies if they weren't looking at the proliferation of all kinds of weapons all around them?

There's no "off" button on an arms race. No finishing line. The Soviet Union fell and we didn't stop producing bullets and bombs. We just found other countries to use them on.

We need to back the world down, not only from the nuclear race, but from the arms race in general. (The world spent over a trillion dollars on arms in 2004 Does that strike anyone but me as mind-boggling? )

It's not actually necessary to have enough bullets and bombs to kill your adversaries fifty times over in order to survive in the world.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:14 PM | Comments (2)
10 Questions - 2 (The U.N.)
2. The UN: Do you honestly believe that an organization as bureaucratic, nepotistic, fractured and politicized as the UN will ever be a trustworthy foreign policy instrument? Your reform prescriptions do not address the fundamental problem of uneven political will to confront key challenges; until that is addressed, isn’t the UN doomed to be a talkshop or worse?

Yes, I do. Why not?

Our government is bureaucratic, nepotistic, fractured, and politicized. It's also sometimes corrupt, inefficient, lazy, stupid, and secretive. Any organization staffed by human beings will be vulnerable to the failings that human beings are prone to.

We already wiped the slate clean once (The League of Nations) and we can't take that route again. If we do, it simply sends the message that any time things get too complicated, we'll just erase the problems and spend a trillion dollars or so building a new entity. How many times can we do that before we teach the world that these international organizations can be ignored because they're temporary?

The U.N. is what we have. (It's disingenuous to act as though the USofA has never contributed to the U.N.'s problems.)

Does it need reform? Yes. Is John Bolton a reformer? He is not. He's a paranoid, partisan hack with the diplomatic skills of a rabid weasel.

It's unfair to dismiss the U.N. as a "talkshop" although it's had more success in some areas than others.

"Uneven political will to confront key challenges" is probably the heart of the question, but that's just too vague. Which challenges? Who defined them as "key"? Who opposed them? The question is too broad to answer in a few words, but let me say that you can re-make the U.N. again and again, giving it different names and playing around with the structure, and you're going to run into the same issues.

Even if you restructure the organization so that we can force agreement with our issues, that won't give us the power to force countries to fall into line with our solutions.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)
The U.N.

Congress Moves to Cut U.N. Funding

In a move virtually certain to add to strains between the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, the International Relations Committee (HIRC) of the House of Representatives Wednesday approved a sweeping bill that, if passed into law, will require Washington to withhold up to half of assessed U.S. contributions to the world body unless it implements specific reforms.

How timely.

Among other ”reforms,” The United Nations Reform Act of 2005, which is expected to be approved on the House floor next week, would also require the U.N. to fund most of its programs through voluntary contributions, rather than mandatory dues from its 191 member-states, and enable Washington to pick and choose those programs it wished to fund.

How stupid.

It would also require the U.N. to set up a number of new oversight boards to investigate the U.N. bureaucracy and specific agencies, as well as adopt new rules that would bar alleged human rights violators from serving the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

That eliminates us.

And it would withhold U.S. support for new or expanded U.N. peacekeeping operations until specific reforms are implemented.

How very...American.

”This Act will usher in reforms that both Republican and Democratic administrations alike have long called for, including a more focused and accountable budget, one that should reflect the true priorities of the organization, shorn of duplicate, ineffective and outdated programs,” he noted.

How counterproductive.

The bill comes amid growing hostility, particularly among Republican lawmakers, toward the U.N. dating back to the Security Council's refusal to back the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq in March 2003. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's denunciation of that war as ”illegal” under the U.N. Charter during last year's U.S. presidential campaign also infuriated many Republicans.

How predictable.

Kraus, however, warned that the unilateral and threatening way Hyde's proposals are being presented -- and the resentment that it is likely to cause -- is likely to undercut Annan's own reform efforts.

How annoying.

Under the bill, the U.S. must withhold funds from treaty-monitoring bodies in which the U.S. is not a signatory to the underlying treaty or protocol.

How shortsighted.

How long until we can rid ourselves of these goons in Washington?


Posted by AnneZook at 01:42 PM | Comments (2)
June 08, 2005
10 Questions - 1

I have no idea what Progressives think, but I naturally have my own opinions about these questions.

For the record, I avoided reading the comments at the site until I'd written my own answers. After I read them, I was embarrassed. They're all so reasonable. So thoughtful. So intelligent.

Mine were so...so ranty. So, I'm not sharing my responses over there with the intellectual crowd.

Also, my total response was 4,000 words long, which is, quite frankly, ridiculous for a blog post, so I'm breaking it into multiple posts.

_______________________


1. The Middle East: Isn’t it the case that had a progressive been in the White House, Saddam Hussein would still be in power, with the Middle East as stagnant as ever? Do you now admit that the only way to get the region moving was to dislodge a major dictator and launch at least one important country on the route to transformation? How else would you have gotten change afoot?

Not necessarily, not necessarily, no, and 'not by killing thousands and thousands of people.'

If a Liberal administration had been in power, they would not have ignored the Clinton Administration's attempts to warm them about the Taliban. Instead of being obsessed with Hussein, we might have gone after bin Laden's group and prevented 9/11.

Even had we not, we could still be paying serious attention to Afghanistan, a country that welcomed us and wants our assistance.

If we had, well, without 9/11, we wouldn't have been suffering from PTSD for the past four years and we wouldn't be in this mess. We wouldn't be openly vilified around the world for torture, prisoner abuse, killing thousands of civilians, and having illegally invaded another country while pretending we weren't after their oil supply.

We wouldn't now be sitting on the horns of an ugly dilemma as our "allies" in "fighting terror" massacre their own citizens, would we? Uzbekistan. Ethiopia.

Maybe by now, some positive progress would have been seen without all the bloodshed. (I've heard more arguments saying that the "pro-democratization" movements in the Middle East are a matter of pressure and the culmination of years of tentative movements coming to maturity, than arguments that it's All About Bush.)

The tens of billions of dollars we've spent on killing Iraqis could have been spent on aid programs, education, and forming international alliances to put real pressure on totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, not just those out of favor with whatever Administration currently resided in the White House.

Such actions might have resulted, who knows, in even more progress toward freedom and openness in the Middle East and elsewhere. (I don't say "democracy" because it's not up to us to shove democracy down other country's throats. If the people are free to choose their system of government and reasonably free to live in safety and security under that government, even if they dissent from it, then the form said government takes is none of our business.)

We could have spent a few billion dollars giving Afghanistan some hope for economic prosperity not tied to the drug trade. The possibility of a future.... Maybe the nihilism of the Islamic extremists wouldn't be so attractive if there were viable, attractive alternatives for these people's lives?

We could have saved...how many lives in Darfur? We could have fed and housed tens of thousands of people, offering them healthcare, education, and a chance to build a future for themselves and their country.

We could have made our "foreign policy" about something other than a complicated exchange of weapons for bases and armed might for token support in an illegal invasion of a non-aggressive country.

With the hundreds of billions of dollars we've spent on Iraq, we could have made significant moves toward being the country I used to think we already were.

I'm ranting already...and this is only the first question.

Let me finish by pointing out that if we wanted to do some reforming in the Middle East, Iraq isn't the obvious place we should have started. I've already mentioned Afghanistan. Or how about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? (What's the matter, George? Afraid to tackle the one that's defeated all of your predecessors?)

Iran...well, we helped bring down the Shah and gave them the extremist Khomeni, so I think they've had all of the "democratization" they really want from us, don't you? And, to be honest, the whole Saudi Arabia thing is jut too complicated for my brain.


Posted by AnneZook at 07:42 PM | Comments (6)
So?

The story is all over the Canadian press, but I haven't seen the same headline in the USofA media yet.

Bush aide's spin on global warming defended

Philip Cooney, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, edited several reports issued in 2002 and 2003 to cast doubt on whether greenhouse gases really cause global warming, the newspaper reported.

Cooney, a lawyer who once led the American Petroleum Institute's fight against greenhouse gas limits, joined the administration in 2001. He has no scientific training.

The Bush Administration downplayed the "science" on global warming, and played up the "theoretical" nature of the subject. So, now there's a "whistleblower" and a scandal.

People get too wound up about this stuff. It's all just a theory, anyhow.

Might nothing happen a'tall, you know. Lotsa times, nothin' don't happen

Anyhow. We got lots of studies from those nice folks in the oil business promising us it's all a buncha hooey.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:10 PM | Comments (0)
Religious Freedom

Okay, it's Canada, but I think many of the same issues being raised there are those that we face here in the USofA.

I think our Northern neighbor is letting itself be buffaloed by homophobic churches.

The Liberal government moved yesterday to prevent an internal crisis over its bill to legalize same-sex marriage, saying it is willing to beef up protections for church groups complaining that their religious freedoms will be violated.

It's absurd to say that same-sex marriage violates someone's religious freedom. If they disapprove, they're entitled to disapprove.

What they don't have the right to do is to tell the rest of the world it can't approve of same-sex marriage.

I was talking with someone about this just last night. The problem is that some people interpret their "freedom" as the freedom to dictate to other people. Wrong.

Your "religious freedom" stops at the door of your church.

A Justice official said the government will give "serious consideration" to an amendment that would assure churches will not lose their charitable status for refusing to perform gay marriages.

I support this. (Except for the part where I don't see any reason a "church" should be tax-exempt.) A church that's homophobic shouldn't have to perform same-sex marriages. Also, a church that's racist shouldn't have to let in people from other than their preferred ethnicity. Or to perform marriage ceremonies for couples of different races. A church that's misogynistic shouldn't have to let women worship.

That's not sarcasm. I'm serious.

Okay, I think it's all a lot of superstition anyhow, but I also think everyone is entitled to their hobby. I don't really think it matters what they do, and if they decide to redefine "religion" to mean "biased against women" or "celebrating left-handed people" or whatever other idiocy they come up with, I can't really see that it matters. Let them pay their taxes and believe whatever insanity they want to believe in private.

Even more than that, though, I think there are many advantages to providing complete religious freedom.

For one thing, the bigots, misogynists, racists, and homophobes would be self-identified. I'm sure you can all see the good of that.

Face it...if you remove the tax-breaks "churches" get, does it really matter how someone defines their particular brand of superstition?

It's not like pretending the bigotry doesn't exist erases it. Maybe a little of the harsh light of day on the shadow will help dispell it?

_______________________

(With apologies, in advance, to those who don't deserve the scorn I'm heaping on the bigoted and narrow-minded among the "religious" crowd.)

Posted by AnneZook at 06:32 PM | Comments (2)
Around the World O'Blog
Administration Lawyers Cut Big Tobacco's Penalty By 92%

In a six year-old suit against the tobacco industry, the Justice Department was expected to ask for $130 billion to fund smoking-cessation programs, the amount their own expert had testified would be necessary. Instead, the government's lawyers requested less than 8% of that figure, just $10 billion.

"We were very surprised," said Dan Webb, lawyer for Altria Group's Philip Morris USA and the coordinating attorney in the case. "They've gone down from $130 billion to $10 billion with absolutely no explanation. It's clear the government hasn't thought through what it's doing."

Janice Rodgers Brown. A bad, bad nominee in any sane judicial system.

It pays to be an Enron executive. Especially under this Administration

Matthew Yglesias adding his voice to those saying Democrats need to deal with the topic of Iraq.

The 50s stunk, industrialization didn't help everyone, and the 90s tech boom was unfair to poor Southerners. At least, I think that's what Ed Kilgore is saying. (My sarcasm aside, I have to admit that I've thought a lot about this entry, off and on, since I first read it.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)
Stupid Press Coverage
Two Said Detained in Possible Terror Ties

Federal authorities arrested a father and son after the younger man allegedly acknowledged that he attended an al-Qaida camp in Pakistan to learn "how to kill Americans," according to published reports.

According to the story, they weren't learning to "kill Americans" (as though killing an American was somehow different than killing a German or a Spaniard) but practicing blowing up photos of George Bush.

In the list of items seized, I think for the article to include "prayer books" was unnecessary and inflammatory. I understand it adds that all-critical religious angle that's so popular with the Rightwing nuts but it still annoys me.

(For the record, yes, I'd be equally annoyed at the publication of the arrest of home-grown Rightwing terrorists if the news reports cited seizing, "videocassettes, photographs, fax machines, Bibles and other items." I'd consider the mention of Bibles as irrelevant.)

Aside from that, the story as told does make it sound like these guys are bona fide terrorist wannabes.

For the record, for the past week I've been trying to avoid the MSM and focusing on reading only alternate and independent media sites. Sadly, too many of the ostensibly "alternate" sites consist almost entirely of content linked from the MSM sites.

Also? I miss the MSM. So I'm going back to reading it.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
Take Another Look

Okay, well, it's o'dark thirty and I'm totally not thrilled that I'm at work. I don't have any work I can do you understand, because they're migrating our phones to a new system and, at the same time, dinking with our internet for some reason. (I can't believe I had to be here at 6:00 and not only can I not work, but I can barely surf the net. I should have brought a book.)

Scanning a few headlines when I can....

Another look at Donald Rumsfeld as he continues his campaign to make John Bolton look reasoned and diplomatic. Also, we continue out national pastime of arming everyone in sight for the new world war.

Have you been reading about that Boeing deal? Before you look, I can tell you that Rumsfeld says he didn't do nothing wrong.

Another look at torture.

Unwanted regimes, whether domestic dictatorships or foreign occupations, rely on torture precisely because they are unwanted.

I know I was a member of the, "we have to fix what we broke" camp before, but I've long since changed my mind. I also don't think we should reward ourselves for this illegal and unwanted invastion with all of those permanent bases in Iraq, but then I don't agree that the future of our country, and the world, should lie in planning for the next war.

Another look at Howard Dean and his leadership of the DNC.

Another look at the White House's Enron ties shows that Kyoto was scuttled thanks to the leaders of the criminally fraudulent corporation.

Why were the Independent Media Center investigated by the FBI? I read The Register story and the follow-up, both of which leave me unconvinced that the USofA's FBI seizing computer servers in the U.K. on behalf of Italy and Switzerland is the logical consequence of a French IndyMedia site identifying undercover police officers in a photograph. (I'm entirely against revealing the identities of undercover law enforcement agents. However, if said agents were questioning protesters openly on public streets, how "undercover" could they have been?) Yes, I realize this story is over eight months old, but I just started browsing the IndyMedia site recently and it puzzles me.

All the more because the FBI may receive expanded powers if the expanded Big Brother Patriot Act goes through.

(I remember when CNN was always like this.

Okay...I've just been informed that I may have to go through this six a.m. fiasco again tomorrow. I will if I have to...but I'm not making muffins a second time.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)
June 07, 2005
Miscellany

Now that United Airlines convinced everyone they were about to close their doors unless they eliminated pension plans and got massive wage reductions from their employees...they announced this morning that they're going to be offering wi-fi on all their flights. And, you know, I'm wondering just where they found the money to fund that? Unless Verizon is footing the bill? (Via NPR)

Chinese bloggers are facing a crackdown.

I find myself wondering what kind of stories "ABC and others" might file from North Korea.

You, go, Howard Dean!

Three top fundraisers at the Democratic National Committee have resigned at a time when its chairman, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, has come under fire from fellow Democrats for controversial comments and his Republican counterpart has raised more than twice as much money.

Democratic sources link the resignations to Dean’s decision to focus on raising money in small increments through the Internet, as he did during his 2004 presidential bid, and building up the party’s grassroots infrastructure while paying little attention to major Democratic donors.

"Donors" who can't see the value of, you know, voter participation in the process aren't wanted.

Diane Monson, 48, of Oroville, Calif., regarding the Bush administration's winning its appeal to the Supreme Court to block her supply of medicinal marijuana prescribed to relieve pain from degenerative spine disease:

"I'm going to have to be prepared to be arrested."

As well she should. The Bush administration is about the Culture of Life. It never said anything about refusing to inflict unnecessary pain on sick women.

QuickTakes

Posted by AnneZook at 01:47 PM | Comments (1)
Fighting (?) Terrorism

I wonder if we'll ever know to just what extent parts of our government support terrorists?

Can the blood of a llama help protect us against bioterrorism?

Local scientist Andrew Hayhurst has discovered that the blood from llamas and camels contains an antibody that might be adapted as a sensor for detecting biological and chemical agents at shopping malls, airports and subways.

Are "militants" trying to take over in Afghanistan? Is there some kind of organized consortium behind the

Rioting in Abu Ghraib.

For what it's worth, you'd have to be pretty desperate to try and escape during a sandstorm.

sandstorm.bmp

Posted by AnneZook at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)
Dork Alert

Rumsfeld ducks the questions, dodges the issues, and wishes like hell Bush had accepted the resignation he claims he offered.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you know anything, then, about Pakistan buying weapons, buying nuclear materials from North Korea and selling it to Libya?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I do not personally -- and the implication that the United States misled allies, I would -- which is the essence of what -

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Post headline.

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- yes, of what you're saying, I'm not in a position to comment on because I just have no knowledge of it.

I may be kicking dirt on the shoes of the MSM at the moment, but I'm not a bit reassured by the constant insistence on the part of Our Inept Leaders that they don't actually read the national newspapers, you know? I mean, unless they're as stupid as they sound when they're not scripted, I find myself wondering just whatinthehell they're up to that requires this kind of subterfuge, lying, and running from reality?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:13 AM | Comments (3)
Torture

All over the country, and the world, people are yelling for Guantanamo to be shut down. Am I the only one who thinks the USofA rightwinglunatic government will just move their abuses to a new, less-known location?

Unlike Abu Ghraib, the problem isn't the location. (Well, I'd prefer USofA soil, so our laws would apply, but....)

As Regular Readers know, I blame the military leadership for their lack of, well, leadership. I also suspect that the infamous "torture guidelines" were circulated and tacitly accepted as a blueprint for how to treat the Iraqi prisoners of war. I just have to think that any decent "leaders" would have been alert to, would have been trained to look for soldiers going off the deep end, you know? Unless they were told to do otherwise....

(It seems to me that the CIA and "contractor" involvement has really started dropping out of a lot of these stories.)

Here is how the story is being played in the Middle East.

The Pentagon has rejected a call to close its Guantanamo prison and declined to express regret over five cases of US jailors "mishandling" the Quran there.

I guess being the world's only superpower means never having to say you're sorry. Sigh.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)
Save Public Broadcasting

Someone mentioned this in the comments a few days ago, so I thought it was worth posting a follow-up.

Changes cause internal dissent at public television

Company chief accused of illegal political meddling

WASHINGTON -- For many Americans, public television means "Sesame Street," "Masterpiece Theatre" and "Antiques Roadshow." But for Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, it came to mean liberal bias in the network's news and public affairs programming.

Two years ago, the Republican former head of Voice of America and Reader's Digest set out to restore what he called objectivity and balance to the Public Broadcasting Service and National Public Radio.

Now Tomlinson's makeover attempts have made their own news: angry chiefs at PBS and NPR; an investigation of whether his actions amounted to illegal political interference, and questions about whether he may have overreached.

Kudos to those people working at CPB, PBS, and NPR who have declined to be bullied or frightened into silence.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:20 AM | Comments (1)
June 06, 2005
Artic National Wildlife Refuge

We need to protect ANWR. It's a natural, and spiritual, resource.

Don't let the desperation of the Bush Administration blind you to the realities.

Advocates of drilling say that opening up ANWR would make America less dependent on oil imports and thus more secure. At best this idea is illogical; at worst, it's disingenuous. According to information most of us have heard, there could be 5.6 billion to 16 billion barrels (235 billion to 672 billion gallons) of premium "light, sweet crude" underlying the coastal plain of the refuge. Our nation consumes 7 billion barrels of oil per year, and even if the refuge provided the hoped-for 1 million barrels per day, the resulting 0.5 percent annual increase in domestic supply would not significantly lessen our dependence on foreign oil. At best, according to various energy experts, the refuge would yield less than a year's supply of oil for the United States.

anwrarial.jpg

(From Alaska.edu)

anwr-pristine1.jpg

(From GargoyleMechanic)

Don't believe them when they say there will be no impact on the wilderness.

pipeline.jpg

(From ANWR.org)

It's not worth the price, and some surprising allies agree.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)
June 05, 2005
Enlightenment

From Science, editor Donald Kennedy's Twilight for the Enlightenment? (from the 4/8/05 issue) is well worth reading. He contemplates how the current Rightwing and the religious evangelical movements are working together to roll back science, healthcare, and separation of church and state, among other things, and says that those of us who have benefited from the Enlightenment (that would be all of us, in case you're wondering) should be stewards to protect what we've learned.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:00 PM | Comments (3)
Get Them Help

Saul Landau is wrong. The reason the Left doesn't take advantage of these kinds of scandals is because we're not the lunatic Right. We're interested in the welfare of this country, not in "power at any price." (At least, that's what I like to tell myself.)

Should these people be exposed and excoriated in the national media? Yes and no.

Gay-bashers who are themselves gay could benefit from the honesty. They'd save themselves (even more) psychological problems if they'd stop hiding who they are...and stop supporting those who make who they are into something evil.

Also, I'm in favor exposing hypocrisy.

A guy who boinks farm animals should be brought up on charges. And sent to mandatory therapy, as I'm sure any of the thousands of guys who grew up on farms and didn't find themselves making out with the chickens on a lonely Saturday night would attest.

But mostly...these people are sick. The kind of sick you get when you try desperately to deny who you are or when you warp the perfectly normal sex drive. Democrats don't prey on the sick.

Besides, in my personal opinion, if we can't win on issues that matter (health care, education, social security, etc.), then maybe we shouldn't win.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:54 AM | Comments (2)
Terrorists and War

Big Brother is watching...and he's coming after your grandma. (Via Alternet's "Peek" and Blondesense)

A lot of people are finally coming to the conclusion that the "war on drugs" or at least the battle being fought against marijuana, isn't worth the price. They say, "Legalize it and tax it!" (Me, I've known a lot of potheads in my life. I've also known a fair number of drunks. The only difference I can see between the two is that I've never known anyone to get baked, then go home to beat his wife and kids. But maybe my sample size just isn't large enough.)

I suppose I'm the only one among us cynical enough to doubt there was any real news (or truth) on this site. Also, based on the fact that they use one of those staged statue-toppling photos, I doubt this was designed by any Iraqi government. Poking around, I find a lot of "press releases" with no dates. Also doesn’t look like the site's been updated since '04. I guess it's a historical curiosity.

And, speaking of Iraq, it looks like Bulgaria is going to take their 450 soldiers home at the end of the year. One more member of the "Coalition of the Willing" abandons the Bush Administration's ongoing disaster. This is what happens when you send playground bullies to do work that requires grown-ups.

Lying us into war always results in disaster.

Haiti. Canada. The USofA mainstream media didn't cover any of this.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)