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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

November 18, 2005
What to do?

Does our failure in Vietnam show us how to succeed in Iraq?

No, he isn't arguing that Iraq=Vietnam, so don't get your knickers in a twist.

He does, however, have some really good stuff to say about what happened in Vietnam and how we can and should learn from the lessons of the past so we can deal with the problems of today.

I don't agree with everything he says but I think the essay (it's not short) is worth reading.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:22 AM | Comments (2)
Government

What is it good for?

The answer to this seems obvious to a lot of us, but I'm doing some reading on the topic these days.

Today's reading is Katrina in Perspective: The disaster raises key questions about the role of government in American society

A central tenet of conservative ideology is the belief that government interferes with individual liberty, is less efficient than the private sector, and in many cases is simply unnecessary. Among the world's industrial nations, the US has the lowest overall level of taxation (especially for the wealthy), has the weakest regulations on business for consumer and worker protections, and has the smallest safety net in terms of health insurance, child care, and anti-poverty programs.

Even so, conservatives like President George W. Bush, his Republican allies in Congress, his intellectual strategists like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and William Kristol of the Weekly Standard, and the corporate-sponsored policy wonks at the American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation argue that (with the exception of military spending) we need to further reduce government, in large part by cutting taxes even more, especially for the very rich. They call this "starving the beast," reducing taxes so much that government in general, and the federal government in particular, will be virtually paralyzed.

With the Katrina disaster, these conservatives got what they were looking for. When it was needed most, government was paralyzed, and for the past two weeks we've been watching the consequences on television.

It's an interesting and, I think, objective discussion of what's needed. Government is needed. And, yes, government reform is needed.

"Starving the beast" does not qualify as reform.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)
Plame-Gate

Looks like a new grand jury is in the works.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said in court filings that the ongoing CIA leak investigation will involve proceedings before a new grand jury, a possible sign he could seek new charges in the case.
Posted by AnneZook at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)
Dishonesty In Headlining

Tax-Cut Measure Faces Bush Veto Threat

That's a headlilne that clearly implies Bush opposes the tax cuts.

In truth, he just opposes the added-on tax of oil companies to use some of their windfall profits to help pay for post-Katrina damage.

For the record, I agree that the idea of creating a tax "after the fact" is a bad idea. If the oil companies done wrong, then charge them with it and fine them. If they want to do something to improve their image, let them donate $4.3 million for rebuilding.

But that's not the point. The point is that the NYTimes chose a misleading headline.

I liked the one for the story above this one a lot better. G.O.P. Forces Nearly $50 Billion in Budget Cuts Through House It's got impact, and from all that I've read, it absolutely an accurate way to describe what happened.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)
Choose

Do we want lawmakers accepting money from corporations who want political favors, which activity has to be reported officially, or do we want the government to pay for all their travel, but then they can keep it secret?

Cheney Sidesteps Travel Disclosure Rules

Unlike the rest of the White House, Cheney refuses to make his outside travel public

WASHINGTON, November 16, 2005 — Vice President Dick Cheney and his staff have been unilaterally exempting themselves from long-standing travel disclosure rules followed by the rest of the executive branch, including the Office of the President, the Center for Public Integrity has discovered.

Cheney’s office also appears to have stuck taxpayers with untold millions in travel costs rather than accepting trip sponsors’ funds that the rules would require to be disclosed.

He has an obsession with secrecy.

Further:

In the letters to the Office of Government Ethics, Addington writes that the Office of the Vice President is not classified as an agency of the executive branch and is therefore not required to issue reports on travel, lodging and related expenses funded by non-federal sources. The letters go on to say that neither the vice president nor his staff had accepted any non-federal payments for travel during the period, and that the office is making that limited disclosure as “a matter of comity.”

He's also arguing that where he goes, who he sees, and what he does is none of our business.

P.S. Going to make speeches to right-wing think-tanks is not "official travel." If they want to have Cheney come talk to them, fine. They can pay for it.

You think any "small government" Republicans are going to cry foul! over this unnecessary expense?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:31 AM | Comments (2)
80,000+

That's a lot of people to "disappear" without due process.

Remember when we were the country that fought evil, instead of emulating it?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)
Patriot Act

It's back. Or, rather, it was was going to leave and then it got its invitation renewed.

With key parts of the Patriot Act due to expire shortly, the U.S. Congress has an opportunity to improve the law. Instead, it seems poised to renew many of the provisions that infringe most directly on civil liberties - and to add some new ones. There is nothing "patriotic" about letting the FBI seize the records of ordinary Americans without a judge's approval, or taking away the federal judiciary's historical role in ensuring that the death penalty is imposed fairly.

Fortunately, it's not quite a done deal yet.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)
Criminy

Bloggers are spoilt for choice for important stories today.

Plan to restore Great Lakes appears sunk

EPA recommends against funding

BY HUGH MCDIARMID JR.
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Federal officials say they won't pay for the $20-billion plan President George W. Bush sought last year to improve the health of the Great Lakes by restoring coastal wetlands and keeping out sewage and invaders like zebra mussels.

A bipartisan coalition of elected leaders says it was stunned when an Environmental Protection Agency report recommended that Bush focus on "improving the efficiency and effectiveness of existing programs" instead of launching expensive new efforts.

I don't oppose the idea of evaluating current programs and what they're accomplishing before you start up new programs, but it seems to me this should be done on an on-going basis, not after an unpopular president has made grandiose announcements about fabulous programs he's going to implement.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)
More body counts

Bombers Kill 74 at Two Mosques in Iraq

Suicide bombers killed 74 worshippers at two Shiite mosques near the Iranian border Friday, while a pair of car bombs targeting a Baghdad hotel housing Western journalists killed eight Iraqis.

Iraq suicide attacks kill dozens

A series of suicide bombings in Iraq has left dozens of people dead and about 100 injured.

[...]

At least 74 people were killed and 80 injured when two bombs exploded in two Shia mosques in the town of Khanaqin near the Iranian border, police say.

The bombers blew themselves up while hundreds of worshippers were attending Friday prayers.

Earlier, two car bombs killed at least six people outside an interior ministry building in Baghdad.

The attacks near in the central Jadiriya district injured at least 40 people and brought down a block of flats.

A hotel used by foreigners may also have been targeted in the attack.

A nearby interior ministry detention centre has been at the centre of a detainee abuse scandal.

5 Marines Dead and 11 Hurt in an Ambush by Insurgents

The American and Iraqi troops have faced a new kind of fighter in Ubaydi, one they did not see in Husayba and Karabila, he said. "Their tactics were very good, their discipline was very good," he asserted. "It's not your average insurgents running around because they have nothing better to do."

Yeah, it's going really well in Iraq.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)
Reapportionment of Wealth

Let's give more to people who have it already.

GOP Budget Cuts Just Pass House

After a whole day and half the night of tinkering and arm twisting, Republican leaders managed to barely pass a bill to trim $50 billion from Medicaid, food stamps and subsidies for student loans early Friday morning.

The kicker:

In passing the bill, Republicans buffed up their party's budget-cutting credentials as they try to reduce a deficit swelled by spending on the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina. Democrats countered that a companion tax bill that could advance as early as Friday would more than eat up the savings.

Got that? They're cutting Medicaid and food stamps to pay for another tax cut.

The bill drew unanimous opposition from Democrats, who objected to both cuts in programs for the poor and the fact that the deficit-reduction bill would increase the deficit when combined with a tax bill slated for a vote later that would extend tax cuts on capital gains and dividend income due to expire at the end of 2008.

I'd say if the tax cut passes, Republicans should be viewed as not having a moral leg left to stand on.

But wait!

Senate passes popular tax cuts

Who knows what it will look like, by the time the two chambers reconcile what they've done? But it could be argued that the Republicans are going to reduce the government if they have to kill every poor and elderly person in the country to do it.

Update: More about the budget wars taking place over the current appropriations bills.


Posted by AnneZook at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)
November 17, 2005
Crumbling Alliance?

In the U.K., The Guardian's Op-Ed page takes on Guantanamo, detaining innocent people in Guantanamo

He appears to be completely innocent: his story has been investigated and told in detail twice, by two respected US journalists, Roy Gutman in Newsweek and Peter Jennings in a special TV report on Guantánamo. Both reports were devastating to the official line on the war on terror. Fawzi was also the man named in one of the supreme court cases that successfully challenged the refusal of habeas corpus to the prisoners. Is he still being held precisely because his case has deeply hurt the Bush administration's credibility before the country's highest lawyers, and in the mainstream media?

And lies.

The Senate has been grossly misled by the administration about conditions in the prison, and the nonexistent cases against many of those held, or it could never have approved Senator Graham's plan, slightly modified this week. Graham will join many others, such as Alberto Gonzales, General Geoffrey Miller, Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush, who will be harshly judged by history for what has happened at Guantánamo.

They have rather more faith in the Senate's willingness to do the right thing if rightly educated than I do at the moment.

The actual idea that this could pass, not to mention that some elected officials would feel free to lobby openly to allow torture, has drastically undermined my already shaky belief in our country.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)
Step by step

Gen. Janis Karpinski's story hasn't really hit the big time in the USofA media, big surprise, but it's starting to wind its way through the foreign press, including France.

And in Turkey.

South Africa.

Al Jazeera.

Italy.

In the USofA? I found three spots that covered the story. Savannah, GA. Seattle, WA. And one dismissive reference from a WSJ Op-Ed columnist.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:20 AM | Comments (0)
Puzzlement

While I think people who deny the Holocaust took place are certifiable, I didn't know that Holocaust denying was an actual crime in Austria.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:07 AM | Comments (3)
DuPont

A huge USofA corporation hiding information about product safety concerns from the public and the FDA.

Gosh. Who'd have ever guessed?

Posted by AnneZook at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)
November 16, 2005
A Real Drug Problem

I've never approved of Big Pharma's new trend of advertising direct-to-consumer. I know they do it because it makes drug sales skyrocket, but it has side-effects. Much like the drugs themselves. Side-effects that could be fatal.

I'm as worried or maybe more worried by the perception that a doctor isn't an expert just because they're a doctor. I see that as a consequence of Modern Medicine, where doctors are pushed to see as many patients a day as humanly possible and are challenged to keep costs down to match a fee schedule provided by insurers. People don't feel that they know their doctors, or that their doctors know them. This used to be the foundation of medical care...seeing someone who knew you and understood your condition.

Now physicians are treated like interchangeable parts.

Did your company change their insurance plan? Here's a book...find yourself a new doctor.

I don't like it, but I agree that it's usually simple enough to suggest to the doctor what drug you want and get a prescription. Thank you, Corporate Amerika, for boosting insurance company profits obscenely while diluting the quality of healthcare we receive.

I agree with the kids interviewed who said that the monetary investment in having a new drug succeed made pharma-funded research studies suspect. We've just seen too many headlines in recent years about suppressed information.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)
That Medicare Vote

I guess it's because the expensive and unpopular bill is taking effect, but The Hill decided that today was the day to go back and talk about the arm-twisting, deal-making, and other shenanigans the Republicans indulged in to eke out a narrow victory.

Rationales included, "The president needs this to be re-elected." I wonder if the person who said that is sorry now?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)
VA

What do our veterans have to look forward to, assuming they actually make it home from Iraq and Afghanistan alive?

After 55-year wait, veteran faces new delays in getting compensation.

Missing Money, Unpaid Bills and Forgotten Clients.

And yes, sensible people know the right way to fix these problems is to starve the VA of money and staff and cut back on benefits.

After all, you can't mess up what you're not responsible for.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:14 AM | Comments (2)
A Sad Legacy

I guess it's a pretty good example of how mercenary many of us are.

You can say it's about preserving a legacy, but when merchandising rights are in question, most of us know it's about the money.

Seems to me that Rosa Parks' wishes were made pretty clear when the court-appointed guardian interviewed her in 2002. For a member of the family to file suit today...it smacks of greed.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)
Naughty Iraq

This is just wrong.

Only the USofA is allowed to hide prisoners away and torture them.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)
The Economy

A dry topic, but not so much when Molly Ivins writes about it.

Do read the comments. At the moment, I have this complicated argument going in my head with some of the comments, especially the person who naively proclaimed, "growth is growth."

There's a lot of arm-waving and shouting going on (still in my head), and explaining why the logical outcome of Bush's "ownership society" and the society the Radical Right is building are both communist in nature, but I just don't have the energy to write it all out at the moment, so just imagine you read it.

(Don't forget to add in the bit I wanted to add about how the Average Person doesn't want to "own" a piece of a corporation with all of those criminal corporate fraud cases hitting the front pages. Not to mention bankruptcies and outsourcing.)

Bottom line? Not all growth is equal, just as not all budget deficits are equal. Tax cuts that benefit the top 25% of the population and harm the bottom 75% will be, in the end, bad for everyone. Concentration of excess wealth in too few hands will destroy us.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)
ALEC

Another acronym we need to know and fear.

(According to one of PFAW's observers, Norquist told a room full of legislators that "those on the left aren't stupid, they're evil.")

Okay, I take issue with this. In a room full of people dedicating their live to the betterment of corporate health at the expense of, you know, actual people? It's a bit insane to announce that people for whom human beings are of the first importance are "evil."

Is Norquist that crazy or was he just "whipping up the base"? (I'd really like to know what Norquist was talking about. If he really thinks the Left is "evil," I want to know why.)

Always remember and never forget.

"Pay to play" doesn't just describe corporate support for this organization. It describes the country they want to create. A country in which education, justice, and opportunity are handed to those who can afford to pay for them.

That's not the kind of democracy the vast majority of the people in this country want. It's not the kind of democracy the vast majority of the people in this country can afford. Even if it gives the Far Right the hives, the bottom line is that our democracy is a kind of collective bargaining agreement. We all chip in our pennies to create an entity large enough to represent any of us who might need it. It's fundamental to how this country operates.

Trying to change that, to provide traditional "government" services only to those who can afford to pay as they go? Is so very un-American.

Heck...it's almost evil.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)
Rewriting history?

I desperately want to discuss this but I don't even know where to start.

It has to be said that while there were voices of sanity calling for a slowdown in the rush to war, the ones from people in power were few and far between.

Congress was successfully stampeded into voting the Bush Administration carte blanche authority to do whatever the heck it wanted to do and Congress has only itself to blame for this. You can't blame The Peepul for this one. The country was mobilizing for war before most of them knew it. The blame rests squarely on Congress.

Blame. Congress. Ours is a system of checks and balances, and it offered neither.

And Bush's much-reviled Veteran's Day Speech? The one so many of you are using to "prove" he's telling lies about who had what intelligence? You're letting yourselves be tricked. Again.

Because, once again, a close reading of what he actually said reveals that he's implying much that he's not actually saying.

The money quote:

And many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way: "When I vote to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat, and a grave threat, to our security." That's why more than a hundred Democrats in the House and the Senate -- who had access to the same intelligence -- voted to support removing Saddam Hussein from power. (Applause.)

Bush isn't saying that the House and Senate had the same intelligence that the White House said. He's saying that they had the same intelligence that Kerry was talking about.

You may think this is semantic nitpicking but I promise you, this is the kind of misdirection that will keep him out of jail. It's the kind of line-walking that allows him to look you in the eye (or at least, look a camera in the eye) and say he's not lying to the American Peepul.

Stop hearing what he wants you to hear and listen to what he's saying.

It's 2005 and now we're having the debate and the investigation we should have had before we killed something like 30,000 Iraqis, lost over 2,000 USofA soldiers, impoverished our country, nearly bankrupted Iraq, and destabilized the entire Middle East for decades to come, along with creating a whole new generation of terrorists with darned good reasons to hate the USofA.

And you're acting like a bunch of two year-olds. "Oooo, shiny!" And then you're off to chase the lastest bubble, letting yourselves be distracted from the real issues. Makes me crazy.

Bush lied? People died. What he's saying today is less important, critically less important, than keeping the pressure on what happened then.

Bush lied. People died. This is the headline that captures the attention of those who aren't sure, who haven't decided, or who haven't been paying attention.

We need to know if it's true, and we won't find that out by listening to him making bitter speeches today.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)
November 15, 2005
Frowning

Okay, what's wrong with my blogging?

I'm starting to feel persecuted.

I haven't noticed any men dissing me, no one curses at me for posting about abortion or education or other "girlie" topics, and I actually do post (over-) long 'essays' about things that push my hot buttons.

Most of the links I get come from men and by far the vast majority of my commenters are men, a lot of them with a frightening array of initials after their names.

What's up with that?

Granted, I don't have delusions (or aspirations) of becoming a Big Blawg Dawg (Hey! I forgot to tell you that I cracked 17,000 visits last month!), but still. I think I'm entitled to equal treatment, blogwise.

I'm a girl and I demand to be discriminated against like the rest of the girls!

I'm not particularly interested in the "why aren't more women's blogs famous" discussion, the answer being fairly obvious to me, but there was an interesting comment about the fact that men blogging and cursing their little brains out is shrugged off while women get dissed for cursing via blog.

Me, I'm not big on cursing because I think it makes you sound stupid and every time Atrios swears, my opinion of his intelligence goes down. (As it does when he posts five "open" threads in a row...what happened to the days when he was #1 with the latest headlines?)

I don’t see that much cursing in the world o'blog, but somehow I don't doubt that there is indeed a double standard.

How about we have a single standard? How about we say, "no one curses except on the rarest of occasions?"

Let's have a modicum of respect for the written word. Regardless of what language you use in those beer-soaked, late-night conversations with your friends, treat your reading audience with a little more respect. (Said the woman whose grammar could make Strunk & White weep and rend its pages....)

Sometimes I get the feeling I read people's posts and wind up having an entirely different conversation than the one they wanted to have.

__________________

(Yes, I know I said I was shutting up for a while. Now, after an interval not wholly unconnected with matters of personal hygiene, I really am.)

Posted by AnneZook at 12:46 PM | Comments (8)
More Like Actual News

The cost of mailing a letter is going up. Remember what you're paying for when you mail a letter. And remember that we almost managed to cut down on junk mail.

We've been using Kyrgyzstan in our "war on terror" in the Middle East, partly because they're on of the only countries that would let us in. Now it looks like trouble is brewing over internal corruption in the country. Which, as the Pentagon says, is the country's problem. (To a large extent, they're quite correct.) It's an interesting story, but this made me roll my eyes:

A copy of the document was given to The New York Times by someone who wanted the details made public but was not authorized to release them.

The ubiquitous "anonymous source." (And yet...I must say that admitting to an anonymous source but giving a reason for the anonymity is an improvement.)

I've read the story, but I don't know enough about the details to know if the Bush Administration got a "win" or not. Is the new Gaza agreement a success?

Is quoting Bill O'Reilly the same as smearing him? Of course it is. Everything thing he says is hate-filled, ignorant, and bigoted. It's inescapable then that when you quote, him, you make him sound hate-filled, ignorant, and bigoted.

For men worried about their, well, masculinity? Be aware that pollution might make you girly. (Is this what it's going to take to make the Radical Right admit that destroying our ecosystem is a bad idea?)

How to Translate Russian. "Or rather, how not to translate it."

Those of you viewing the weekly archives might notice that the code has run mad, causing every entry to be indented just a little bit more than the entry before. I don't have the faintest idea why, but I'm working on it.

But not right this second. It's a beautiful, crisp, sunny day. The snow has disappeared from the roads and almost disappeared from my car. I think it's time to get out of my chair and experience a bit of the real world for a while.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:21 AM | Comments (2)
Wherein We Contemplate Criminality

During the Clinton years? If the Republicans had known in advance what kind of a mess the next Administration was going to create, they couldn't have done a better job of crippling our options.

What force do threats of grand juries and subpoenas and even impeachment have in the public eye today, with the public's memory of how the Right used them as petty partisan weapons so recently?

How much of the public actually understands how critically serious a threat of impeachment is...or should be? How serious it is...or should be, to have a White House senior staff member under indictment?

I just don't know.

The basic problem is that the Republicans are just so very criminal. Starting with Nixon all the way through today, their list of prominent elected officials reads like a Most Wanted poster.

Politicians, party officials, fundraisers, appointed diplomats and department heads. Every Republican Administration has been quilted with dozens of accused, indicted, and even convicted criminals, and some of these people keep reappearing again and again in subsequent Administrations, climaxing with the current Bush Administration where it seems difficult to find any appointments that don't fall into that category.

Is it any wonder that those on the Right assume that all politicians are crooks? The vast majority of those on the Right seem to turn out to be so.

Did they throw around so many accusations and so much paper during the Clinton years in a desperate attempt to make it looks as though the Left was equally criminal? Did anyone but the rabid partisan "base" fall for it?

What kind of minds think that's a solution, as opposed to cleaning their own house? The kinds of minds that are, themselves, equally criminal and consequently don't want to go there?

Who are those people and who put them in charge of my country?

A. Dangerous lunatics
B. The Supreme Court

Posted by AnneZook at 09:59 AM | Comments (3)
Obstructionism

Okay, I had a lot of 'tude there earlier. I'd apologize, but it looks like I'm not the only one getting perilously close to the absolute end of their patience.

Stephen counsels some major obstructionism.

I proposed back then that House and Senate Democrats stop running from Republican charges that they are being obstructionists, and instead turn obstructionism into a virtue. When Republicans accuse them of obstructing administration plans, programs or appointees, instead of launching into some convoluted, triangulated response, just thank them for the compliment.

I'd almost support that.

And if the Democrats could find someone with a voice (how pathetic is it that there are so few prominent Democrats who can insure coverage on the evening news?) who could tell the country why they were doing what they were doing, I think a lot of people might get behind it.

I'm not sure it would be the right thing to do, in the long run, though.

And it would take guts.

If Senate Republicans try blackmailing Democrats out of filibustering Alito by trying to change Senate rules -- the "nuclear option" -- and limiting the filibuster, Democrats should shut the whole damn place down again, just as Harry Reed did two weeks ago.

Then, behind closed doors, tell Republicans that if they persist with the nuclear option, Democrats will shut the Senate down everyday from that day forward until they relent. Nothing will get done. (Which is a win in itself, considering most of what the administrations wants to get done shouldn't get done anyway.)

But real obstructionism is not for sissies. Democrats are going to have to be ready to confront the GOP counterattacks. They will accuse Democrats of everything from hurting our troops overseas, to giving aid and comfort to terrorists, to putting all Americans at risk, to flat out accusing them of being unpatriotic.

Part of me loves the idea, especially if they confine such drastic counter-measures as responses to the Right's most objectionable behavior...like trying to change how Congress itself functions or voting for more tax cuts for the rich while they're slashing aid and assistance programs for the needy.

But it's a dangerous weapon and shouldn't be used lightly. Remember...anything that can be done "for the greater good" by the Democrats today can be twisted and used in retribution by the Radical Right Republicans tomorrow. (Nixon - crook - threat of impeachment. Clinton - Democrat - threat of impeachment.)

And part of me remembers how many millions of taxpayer dollars the Republicans wasted in the '90s, pitching hissy fits over Clinton and desperately trying to get the country to support an impeachment move.

I didn't really approve of it, neither the obsession with bringing Clinton down nor the determination to prevent the Federal government from functioning. (Of course, that was largely because anyone viewing the situating objectively, which I was since I was largely apolitical at the time, couldn't see anything remotely impeachable about Clinton and all of the foaming-at-the-mouth coming from the Right just made them look stupid and kind of scary.)

I'm rational enough to see that, to the partisan eye, it's possible to make comparisons between what some of us on the Left want done to Bush and what the Republican leadership tried to do to Clinton.

I'm of the opinion that there are substantive differences in the situations, but it's just barely possible for me (if I squint, tilt my head, and turn off my brain) how someone highly partisan and on the defensive could draw parallels.

Quite honestly, I'd rather see the Democrats struggling, as publicly as possible, to do something and failing because of Republican obstructionism, than to see them being themselves obstructionist.

The key is as publicly as possible.

______________________________


(You'll be glad when I get a job again and don't have so much time on my hands, won't you?)

Posted by AnneZook at 08:48 AM | Comments (3)
Ranting, Raving, and Fainting In Coils

(Originally written as a 1/1/05 blog entry, but never posted. It's not less true today, eleven months later.)

I once read a book where a character wailed, "I don't believe in evil!" I've always remembered that.

I go back and forth on the believing in evil thing, myself, but one thing I'm sure of is that there exists a monumental selfishness so narcissistic, so complacent it its own self-love, and so blind to the reality of the world around it that it's a danger, an evil, to the rest of us.

I have tried to believe that the neocons "mean well" but are simply wrong, that the Bush Administration has good intentions but lacks the ability to follow through on their ideas properly, and that the version of "conservatism" currently dismantling our social structure sis just a natural swing of the social pendulum that balances our country.

I have made excuses, allowances, and concessions. I've always believed in compromise.

Now I know that compromise isn't always possible.

When I look at what those in power in this country have done, when I review the underlying beliefs that guide their actions, when I look at what they want to do next, no compromise is morally possible.

The Radical Right controlled Congress for half of the 90s, blocking most "liberal" legislation and pushing through a handful of destructive pieces of legislation to help them dismantle the regulatory structure that protects this country's environment and its citizens.

Before that, we had 12 years of Reagan-Bush. We've had 5 years of Bush-Cheney, certainly the worst of the bunch. That's almost 20 years of neocon effort to remake reality to fit their dreams.

They have subverted the language of democracy and the spirit of this country with a 20-year push for military and economic global domination that concentrates all power in the hands of a few.

They have bedded down with tyrants, sung the praises of monsters, and sold our birthright of liberty for a bucket full of oil.

Economically, this Administration is a disaster. Their belief in tax cuts for the rich flies in the face of historical evidence proving what makes this country's economy hum along...but they just don't care.

Their indifference to the fate of 20% or more of this country's citizens infuriates me. How can it be possible that our "system" is so broken that we can hand our country over to such amoral, antisocial men?

I constantly try to find a rational explanation for their behavior and I constantly fail.

Lowering taxes for the wealthy does not stimulate the economy; it just makes rich people richer.

Eliminating corporation regulations does not stimulate growth; it stimulates fraud.

Removing oversight and enforcement abilities from environmental agencies does not produce voluntary corporate compliance; it produces pollution.

"Tort reform" did not produce reform; it produced injustice.

Weakening workplace safety regulations produced workplace injuries.

If they actually believe the things they say, they're blind, indeed, to so constantly miss the daily proof of their miscalculations.

If they do not truly believe in the platform they present, then they must have some plan they are unwilling to expose to the glare of publicity. They may, in fact, be evil.

Either that, or they're the stupidest bunch of political amateurs we've ever had the misfortune to have in office. And everyone who voted for them is equally guilty of mindless idiocy.

I am so cranky this morning.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)
November 14, 2005
Old Ideas

Dr Fallon offers some here and here.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:47 PM | Comments (2)
If you care

For anyone who cares, Knight-Ridder Washington has a whole string of post-Katrina stories from New Orleans.

For instance, I hadn't realized that the ban on evictions was lifted and that many of the poorest citizens, those with no way to get back home, are losing their homes along with whatever belongings might have survived the storm and floods.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:44 PM | Comments (0)
Eyes on the ball

There's a guy over at the Denver Post, Ed Quillen, who thinks we should watch out for the Bush Administration trying to use a little sleight of hand to keep the real issues out of sight. So, in our interest over Mr. Libby's indictment, let's not forget prisoner torture, misused intelligence, and CIA secret prisons, okay?

Reggie Rivers is all over Bush's "we don't torture" speech, talking about the, well, ongoing torture problem. A lot of people jumped on that stupid speech and with good reason, but let us not lose sight of the fact that Bush probably doesn't actually know that we're torturing people. He's probably the worst-informed President this country has ever endured.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)
November 13, 2005
Long Overdue

With apologies to frequent commenter Lawrence Krubner, What Is Liberalism is finally on the blogroll.

Posted by AnneZook at 02:27 PM | Comments (2)
Thinking Out Loud

Do the Democrats have a vision?

No?

Can they find one in time?

Does anyone know...or care, how crazy this makes me?

There are tens of millions of us out here who have a very clear vision of what the Democrats stand for...or should stand for.

Liberty and justice for all.

There are tens of millions of us out here who have a very clear vision of what the Democrats should be preaching as the domestic* party platform.

Labor rights. Civil rights. Health care. Social security. Clean energy. Clean government.

These are where they should start. Fix this.

If the elected Democratic Party officials in Washington can't figure out who the Democrats are, I suggest that they resign and let someone who does have a clue take their place.

All that follows is just my opinion, of course, but I got tired of typing, "I think" constantly.

Most of those issues traditionally thought of as the Left's domain have been mainstreamed over the last 30 years, making those issues more "centrist" than Left (in spite of the Reactionary Right's furious attempts to roll back the tide of civilization).

Okay, arguably the "leadership" of the Left never was that thrilled about a lot of issues but the mid-level and ground-level support for them were strong enough to push through the necessary legislative and social changes without top-tier Washington cooperation. So, we have (limited) women's right's, racial equality, concern for the environment, and at least lip service to developing clean, renewable fuels. We even have (very limited) gay rights.

Today, do we have any hot ticket issues, things people feel passionately enough about to agitate their legislators about, support receptive candidates over, and argue with their in-laws for? To do all of the other things needed to bring something front and center in the public's awareness?

Social Security is critically important but it's not sexy. Medicare is another vitally important program and it suffers from the same problem. Not sexy. Poverty, crime, and education are all too intertwined for any "solution" that doesn't address all three to be successful. Complicated problems aren't sexy and they don't lend themselves to solutions that can be expressed as catchy, six-word slogans. Are the domestic problems that face us today simply too complicated for the "average citizen" to be able to offer any substantive input?

These are important issues that are going to affect every single person in the USofA. (Except those insulated by their wealth, so let's just say 90% of the country.)

Of course, there's Iraq. There's the prisoners we tortured, not to mention the ones who died. And the reports that the intelligence was "fixed" to make the war seem necessary. And the revelations that we started bombing Iraq long, long before the invasion was a mote in the public's eyes. And the healthcare problems of returning veterans. And the "stop-loss" that's keeping us from seeing many returning veterans. And the recurring aroma of a draft. And the contracting fraud, the money wasted, the money vanished, and the civilian body count.**

We could get people marching in the streets over Iraq. But should we?

I don't doubt the slaughter can sink the Bush Administration, but what are we going to replace it with? What's our plan for this country's future?

Is there any point in agitating against the Bush Administration (aside from our dislike of their hypocritical authoritarianism) if we don't actually have a better plan?

If we have a plan, do we know what it is? It's 2005. If we have a vision for the country, it's really not too early to start telling people about it. '08 is closer than you think.

___________________

* If I had a foreign policy platform idea, I'd post it here.

Unfortunately, the corrupt application of USofA military might and foreign aid programs to push USofA corporate interests over the past decades, along with the quite justified perception that we're arrogant, hypocritical bullies is going to take a little more work to correct.

To begin with, I'd suggest not vilifying and tearing down Kofi Annan, the man who is currently the U.N.'s best hope for meaningful reform. Yeah, he dissed the Bush Administration over Iraq. They had it coming and even if they didn't, this is not the kindergarten playground, so they can just grow up.

I've said it a hundred times. The U.N. is what we've got. We need to work within the framework. We already erased (League of Nations) and started over once. If we do it again, we eliminate any possibility that any subsequent organization will be able to effect meaningful change in the world.

And, you know, multilateralism. In war and peace. I'm not a universal fan of "globalization" because all that really means is that if I ever get to visit Paris, I'll be surrounded by Wal-Marts, but there are areas in which globalization, properly regulated and kept in check, is useful. Countries with solid economic ties are less likely to go to war with each other, for instance.

Also? For the last half-century, the CIA has been running arms- and drug-smuggling operations under the pretense of using them to "gather intelligence." They should knock it off because that's just one more way in which we are a large part of our problem.


** They said we had to outspend the Soviet Union to protect ourselves from the Red Menace and we did, and I guess we "won" but the spending never stopped.

Colin Powell once said that the USofA was "running out of enemies." If I'm not mistaken, it was shortly after that that the 'military-industrial complex' started looking for some enemies to justify the ever-more bloated annual defense budget.

I'm sick of it. No one else should have to die to keep Halliburton's stock price healthy.

"No Blood For Oil" is a good slogan, but so is, "Make Work, Not War."

(Or, "Benefits, Not Body Counts.")

Posted by AnneZook at 12:00 PM | Comments (2)
If You Still Doubt

The fact that they supported, promoted, and encouraged people like this is proof-positive that the Bush Administration is made up of evil people.

Melvin Sembler stepped down earlier this year as Our Man In Rome -- he also served under the first Bush as Ambassador to Australia. Were Monroe's story unique, his STRAIGHT clinics might still be in business. Instead, his creation, which he stubbornly defends, closed under a breathtaking array of institutional abuse claims by 1993, ranging from sexual abuse, beating and stomping to boys called "faggots" for hours while being spat upon -- humiliation so bad that a Pennsylvania judge recently ruled it potentially mitigating of a Death Row sentence for a former STRAIGHT teen who committed a homophobic murder.

The fact that they consider it okey-dokey to make a monster like this an ambassador probably goes a long way to explaining why they don't think torture is wrong.

The story begins in 1976 when Sembler, who'd made his fortune in Florida real estate, founded STRAIGHT from the ashes of The Seed -- an earlier program suspended by the U.S. Senate for tactics reminiscent, said a senator, of Communist POW camps.

[....]

The Senate was less impressed than Sembler with The Seed. Senator Sam Ervin, who'd brought down Richard Nixon, killed the program's federal subsidies for funding a method "similar to the highly refined 'brainwashing' techniques employed by the North Koreans."

Today's Axis of Evil. Yesterday's role model.

Fortunately for this guy, he was rich. If you're a Republican and you make political donations, you can do...or get...whatever you want.

But today, Sembler's trail of purchased political friendships has led him through the opulent doors of the $83 million "Mel Sembler Building" in Rome, christened this year with help from a longtime ally in Congress, Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL). Not the palace where Sembler worked as ambassador, but another of the Eternal City's architectural treasures, built in 1927 and now dedicated as an annex to the U.S. Embassy in a $30 million renovation at taxpayer expense. "Narcissus is now Greek and Roman," said the Washington Post of the monument. No one could remember any other diplomat receiving such honors, not even Benjamin Franklin.

Except the Dipshit-In-Chief, who only-too-clearly has no idea what's going on.

"We don't do that, do we?" George W. Bush reportedly told the congressman, according to Congressman C.W. Bill Young 's (R-Florida) speech during the ceremony. "We don't name buildings for ambassadors where they have served."

"Mr. President," the politician replied, "I introduced the bill and you signed it."

Worst President in history? Unquestionably.

How is it possible to pretend, even to yourself, that you're the President of the United States when you remain so completely and entirely clueless about reality?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:35 AM | Comments (3)