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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

November 25, 2005
Ye Olde Blogaround

A tiny handful of the stories around the world o'blog today.

I'm amused by how many bloggers picked up the story of Brown's plan to counsel other unqualified disaster relief types.

Over at Cliopatria, Ralph Luker is talking about the Constitution and the Joseph Padilla case, with a link to an interesting analysis that, unfortunately, spends a lot of time discussing the actual case against Padilla. In my mind, Padilla's guilt or innocence is, has to be irrelevant in this case. What needs to be addressed is the Bush Administration's blithe refusal to acknowledge that they are subject to Constitutional constraints.

And Chris Bray has a very interesting question about the potential for attempted genocide in Iraq. Don't miss the comments and the links there.

Avedon Carol is right, as she answers Kevin Drum's frustration about how to you explain that torture is wrong. You can't "reason" someone into understanding that. They either get it or they don't. (And if they don't, they're dangerous.) The fact that so many people in our society lack the intuitive understanding of this fundamental moral principle highlights that we're an increasingly sick society.

Cathy From Canada has a creepy entry discussing Chris Matthews' delight in discussing torture. He's interviewing FBI interrogator Joe Navarro, ostensibly about his new book. Navarro, of course, is trying to make the point that torture doesn't work and that rational people don't even want to use it. After a time in which Chris desperately tries to get Navarro to give him the juice on some actual torture techniques (Cathy is right, it's obvious that Matthews didn't even open the book), this telling exchange:

MATTHEWS: If it doesn't work, why does the mob use it? Don't they use it to find out who ratted who out? They used to do it in the movies. NAVARRO: They use it because they are psychopaths, Chris.

Some people seriously need to get their dosages checked. And some men need to spend a lot less time watching and worshipping The Godfather.

Over at Ahistoricality, there's a regrettable tendency to encourage me to rant, but the same post includes a link to the delightful Interview With A Yeti.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:12 AM | Comments (2)
Hack Away

California's e-voting system is about to be subject to a massive hacking attack, and California is happy about it. It's a test to see if the system is as vulnerable as claimed.

Or, as already proven.

Last May, Hursti and another computer security expert tested a Diebold system for the elections supervisor in Leon County, Fla. They quickly broke into the system, changed the voting results and inserted a new program that flashed the message "Are we having fun yet?" on the computer screens.

"Granted the same access as an employee of our office, it was possible to enter the computer, alter election results and exit the system without any physical record of this action,'' said Ion Sancho, the election supervisor, in a report on the county's Web site.

And don't forget Ohio.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)
Toxic

This whole "river of toxic sludge story coming out of China is very worrying. People have been without water for days already and it's not ending yet. China says an oil firm is to blame and the spill is headed toward Russia.

Posted by AnneZook at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)
Aspartame

Looks like it can kill you.

A statistically significant increase in the incidence of malignant tumors, lymphomas and leukemias in rats exposed to varying doses of aspartame appears to link the artificial sweetener to a high carcinogenicity rate, according to a study accepted for publication today by the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP).

Yet another thing to add to the, "read the label before you buy it" list.

Not that, as far as I know, I consume a lot of aspartame. I try to avoid a reliance on artificial sweetners. It's healthier to eat "real" sugar but keep it down to very small amounts.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:55 AM | Comments (1)
Holiday Joke

Today, with the offical start of the holiday season behind us, we have a funny-funny joke to laugh at.

Michael (Hurricane? What hurricane?) Brown is starting...wait for it...a disaster preparedness consulting firm!

"Turkey of the Year" indeed.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)
November 23, 2005
Lookit This

Via David Sirota, you need to read what Brian Schweitzer has to say.

He sounds frighteningly like an actual Democrat. The kind we used to have in this country.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)
Angry Today

(It's a rant, okay? Don't expect rationality or statistics supporting my views.)

I'm tired of being told how we did it all for the "freedom" of the Iraq people. We went to war to secure for ourselves a large share of Iraq's oil and it's silly to pretend we didn't.

All of our posturing about "stability" in the Middle East is and has been around the vast oil reserves in the area and I think it's important for us all to finally acknowledge that openly. That's what it's been about for decades.

Certainly, faced with the Bush Administration's indifference and incompetence around the plight of the Hurricane Katrina victims, no sane person could pretend that any "humanitarian" concerns motivated their invasion of Iraq.

So, yes, I offer the Iraqi people congratulations for this tiny evidence that they're able to overcome some of their political differences, at least briefly.

Our only contribution was to become so obnoxious to every faction of their society that they were willing to band together with their previous "enemies" against us.

Right down to the "language" that "saves face" for the Sunnis who have been making targets of the Kurdish and the Shi'ite populations. It isn't as though most of the victims of suicide bombings have been foreigners. They've been Iraqis. If these various governmental representatives have gone so far as to rubber-stamp those tactics as "acceptable" that says much about just how badly they actually do want us out of their country.

This is a bad war, conducted in the wrong way, using "plans" from incompetent lunatics who watched too many John Wayne movies and who assumed that once the shelling stopped, life would just go on as before, except with rose petals.

When you factor in the fact that we've "arrested" 80,00+ people and appear to be hiding a number of them away in "secret" facilities, while it's been revealed that we've tortured a number of others?

Everything about this war makes me sick.

I'm just so....

I read it from the Bush Administration mouthpieces every day. "How come no one talks about the good things that are happening?"

And, yes, I know that here and there we're making a positive difference. But I think that has more to do with the basic decency and good will of the soldiers on the spot than it does with any plans the Bush Administration had for how to handle their occupation of Iraq.

I fully believe that for every story of a group of soldiers who lose it and shoot up a family and their minivan, there are twenty stories of soldiers helping rebuild schools or dig wells or befriending children.

But it's right that the media, and the public should focus on the bad things that happen because it's not right to pretend that a real war is a noble, bloodless 'cause' full of transcendent victories and universally heroic behavior. It's not like that.

This isn't a movie and I don't think anyone should be allowed to pretend that it is.

This war was planned by delusional people wearing rose-colored glasses and if it's not going to turn into another Vietnam that we're suffering collective guilt for fifty years from now, we need to make the change now.

We dropped white phosphorus on civilians. We melted the flesh from the bodies of children. That is what war is like.

After Vietnam, the nation collectively swore, "never again."

All it took to change that was a cadre of dangerously short-sighted and evil men whose indifference to the needs and desires of 99% of the world's population puts them in league with some of the foulest regimes in the history of the modern world.

They lied to us, deceived Congress, ignored evidence from our allies, and manipulated the facts to force us into invading Iraq.

Impeach George Bush.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)
Why?

Why is it All About the Oil?

I found this Newsweek article very educational. (Via Cursor.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)
November 22, 2005
I Almost Forgot

I did not tell Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame was an undercover CIA agent.

Whew.

Posted by AnneZook at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)
World O'Blog

Avedon Carol posted And The Truth Will Set You Free...

It's a pretty darned good entry but I take exception to the assumption that it's the Left's responsibility to response to every spin-machine production from the Right (and, for that matter, vice-versa). Why in the heck doesn't the media offer a little balance in their stories?

Why do Democrats have to say over and over and Ruth Ginsberg is not a die-hard liberal of any kind? Why couldn't any of those media stories have offered a casual, straight-faced paragraph or two pointing out the actual facts to the contrary?

When it's a matter of policy that's under debate, the MSM should report from both sides. When it's a matter of printing things that are factually inaccurate, the MSM just...not. Or at least print the facts the contradict whatever it is.

But in essence, she's right. If the Democratic so-called Leadership doesn't know what the Real World cares about, reading a few blogs would provide them with a valuable education.
___________________


From Prometheus 6, The White House decision process, explained at last
___________________


Ahistoricality had a post that was all about linking back to things I'd linked to so I'm linking back to that post because somewhere in my brain that created a pleasing sort of pointless circularity. But I totally appreciate the links.
___________________


Over at Republic of T, there's a post I still haven't had time to read closely enough. What's Your Platform?
___________________


November 22, 1963 I've seen quite a number of stories about today's anniversary. I don't think it's so much that a lot of years have passed as it is that there's too much going on today to take a day off to commemorate the death of one man, no matter how tragic the assassination of a sitting President might be.

While you're over at Josh Marshall's place, don't miss the news that, unable to smear Murtha out of existence any other way, the Right has decided he needs to be criminally investigated for...wait for it...ethics fraud!

He also gives house room to a nutcase Republican reader. Who seems, I should add, very rational in his own way. I say "nutcase" because...well...he seems to exemplify what "Republican" is all about these days. And I don't like it.

The idea that only a "wimp" politician allows himself to be "pushed around" by members of his party? It seems that on the Right, your party members are supposed to follow you, rather than you representing them.

The idea that it's vitally important in politics to be perceived as a dangerous enemy? Rather than bipartisanship, working out solutions that provide the best answers for the most people, and, you know, not burning bridges because your ass is going to be out of power one day soon?

In truth, it illustrates just how deeply the politics of attack, divide, and oppress have stained the fabric of the USofA's conservatism.
___________________


Billmon, over at the Whiskey Bar, seems to have turned to tequila...to eating the worm, in fact. I can't think of any reason except insanity for why he's be urging us to send Negroponte (Negroponte!) anywhere but jail. As is amply illustrated by Billmon's post, which cites some of Negroponte's (good god!) efforts on behalf of spreading peace, light, and democracy for a previous Rightwing Republican Administration.

Former official Rick Chidester, who served under Negroponte, says he was ordered to remove all mention of torture and executions from the draft of his 1982 report on the human rights situation in Honduras.

P.S. For an interesting glimpse into the waybackmachine, see these short bios on prominent rightwingers in '01. Although there's a whole roster of Wanted profiles, one thing really jumped out at me, scanning down the page.

"developing futuristic weapons to counter new types of threats emerging in the post-Soviet world."

Are we ever going to be able to view the world through any lens except the "post-Soviet world" one? Can we get over it, turn loose of our childhood traumas, and move on?

P.S. That came from the profile of Gordan England, Bush's choice for Secretary of the Navy. A man, I might add, with no "actual" military experience (how un-u-sual for the Bush Administration!) who was going to have to rely upon his corporate engineering background to do his job.
___________________


Even the General finally broke down under the accumulated weight of Republican transgressions.

And me? I'm tired, discouraged, and behind on today's chore list.

Posted by AnneZook at 01:01 PM | Comments (4)
Here ya go

Finally! The perfect example or illustration you need in order to explain to sane people how the Rightwing echo chamber works.

From Barbara O'Brien at American Street, and around the story that terrorist Zarqawi might be dead.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)
Shhhh...don't tell

It's dangerous to value truth over nationalism. Especially if you're a teacher in Japan.

TOKYO – Miyako Masuda is a 23-year veteran of public schools here. Like many Japanese history teachers of her generation, she dislikes new textbooks that frame Japan as the victim in World War II. It bothers her that books claiming America caused the war are now adopted by an entire city ward. In fact, Masuda disapproves of the whole nationalist direction of Tokyo public schools.

Yet until last year, Masuda, who calls herself "pretty ordinary," rarely went out of her way to disagree. Few teachers do.

But when a Tokyo city councilman in an official meeting said "Japan never invaded Korea," her history class sent an apology to Korean President Roh Moo-hyan - an action that sparked her removal from her classroom.

The war history dispute in Asia is now so front-and-center that appears it was cited by South Korea as a reason to avoid an upcoming December visit to Japan by Mr. Roh. Alongside the diplomatic row, the Masuda case shows how nationalist policies are creeping into the minutiae of daily life in Japan's capital city.

Don't fool yourselves. It could happen here. In fact, to a certain extent, the textbooks many of our schools use are already teaching some kids a very warped version of "history."

(Maybe we're already emulating Japanese schools? We're just emulating the wrong things...which is pretty typical of us these days.)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:33 AM | Comments (2)
Government for (some of) the people

And, while we're talking about insensitivity and callous contempt for the majority of the people our elected officials are pretending to represent?

E. J. Dionne suggests that we Bring Democracy to Congress

After immense pressure from Republican leaders, the House passed $50 billion in budget cuts -- including reductions in Medicaid, food stamps and child support enforcement -- on a 217 to 215 vote. Republicans who pride themselves on being moderate had their arms twisted into backing the bill, partly on the basis of promises that many of the cuts it contained wouldn't survive in House-Senate negotiations.

Not a single Democrat was willing to vote for the budget, because there are far better ways to cut the deficit. Rep. Jim Ramstad, a Minnesota Republican who dissented from his party, made the case against the budget as well as anyone. "We should cut the pork," he told the Washington Times, "not the poor."

Indeed. But poor people, you understand, don't make campaign contributions.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)
Remember Louisiana

Hurricane Katrina victims have been largely pushed off the front page of the MSM's news coverage by revelations (!!) that there's major corruption in the Repbulican Party.

Now Louisiana officials are seeing the Bush Administration's indifference to the plight of the victims increasing.

Okay, maybe I put a bit of spin on that one. But not much.

Less than three months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans, relief legislation remains dormant in Washington and despair is growing among officials here who fear that Congress and the Bush administration are losing interest in their plight.

The Bush Administration has a war to lose. Don't these people understand that God smote them and they should just shut up and take it?

Officials from both parties say the bottlenecks have occurred in large part because of a leadership vacuum in Washington, where President Bush and Congress have been preoccupied for weeks with Iraq, deficit reduction, the C.I.A. leak investigation and the Supreme Court.

Seems to me we have a lot of officials in D.C. Someone should have time to spend on this.

(It's not tornado season. Why are sirens going off in Denver?)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)
Failing Those Who Served

I'm not specially dissing the Veteran's Administration these days, highlighting all of these stories of problems, but we're creating a rather large pool of injured, disabled, and emotionally troubled veterans these days, and we all need to understand that when they come home, we're obligated to provide them with the services and assistance they need.

Knight-Ridder Washington has a good story and some good additional link, including one to Discharged and Dishonored: Shortchanging America's veterans.

We're honor-bound to take care of those who have fought in our nation's military, but we're not doing a very good job of it at the moment.

We need real government reform in a lot of departments, not the least of which is the VA.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)
Another problem

It gets very little coverage in the USofA MSM, probably because the Bush Administration has demanded that no one talk about it for fear people start to think that invading Iraq was All About the Oil, but, you know, the oil supply in Iraq is in trouble. Under attack and consequently under-producing.

Attacks on oil costing Iraq at least $28 million a day

Insurgent attacks are costing Iraq about 500,000 barrels of oil a day, almost a third of its daily output. At today's oil prices, that's costing the country at least $28 million in export earnings every day.

In the run-up to the war, the Bush administration and Iraqi exiles said oil exports would provide badly needed petrodollars to help rebuild Iraq and offset the cost of the U.S.-led occupation. "The oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 (billion) and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years," then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Congress on March 27, 2003, shortly after the war began. "... We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon."

But since the March 2003 invasion, Iraqi oil production has failed to match the prewar level of 2.5 million barrels per day. Production briefly approached that level in March and April 2004, but insurgent attacks on pipelines, oil wells and other infrastructure have eroded output since then.

Just another of the many problems.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)
Don't let the door hit you....

Finally, the "warring factions" in Iraq have come to an agreement. They've found one point upon which they all concur.

They want us gone.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:34 AM | Comments (4)
Bad Child

I know there are a lot of problems that face our society today, not the least of which involve the growing acts of mindless violence of the next generation. But I just can't help but think that turning your children over to strangers to be abused is really a solution.

One night, a few months before his high school graduation, Charles King was awakened by strangers, handcuffed, and told he was being taken somewhere to get help. When his escorts released him, he found himself in another country, locked in a concrete compound, watching a dismal parade of shaved-headed youngsters marching silently in a line. King’s new home was Tranquility Bay in Jamaica, part of a network of behavior modification facilities tied to the Utah-based corporation World Wide Association Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS).

"You weren’t allowed to talk, you couldn’t call home to your family," recalled King, now in his mid-twenties. "You weren’t allowed to do anything, basically, without permission – and if you did, there were consequences."

"Consequences" is the term WWASPS facilities prefer instead of "punishment." Under a point system, participants theoretically earn privileges for following rules and suffer consequences for breaking them: completing intensive chores or sitting obediently through self-help "emotional growth" videos might after a few months earn a kid the prerogative to call home.

But King recalls the consequences more clearly than the rewards: spending days on end in detention, known as "observation placement," lying rigid with his face plastered to the floor, under the surveillance of domineering staff. Seared in his memory, and reported by other former detainees, are the frequent screams of boys and girls who endured special disciplinary sessions in isolation at the hands of staff.

This is child abuse and these are parents who should be facing charges.

The article goes on to talk about "tough love" (this is tough, but it's no kind of "love") and "behavior modification," which is just a polite way of saying, "brainwashing."

Nicki Bush, a psychology graduate student who interned at a rural residential treatment facility, said administrators convinced parents to sink their savings into behavioral treatment that their children supposedly needed. While many children did have serious psychological disorders, she observed it was not uncommon for kids to end up at the facility "because they were having sex with some 20-year-old guy, and [the parents] found a joint, or something like that."

Lest you think these are all parents at the ends of their ropes, dealing with long-term problems with their children. They're not.

Some people are very quick to label what is, whether you like it or not, common teenage behavior as some kind of dangerous psychological failing.

Bob Carter is convinced that a residential program in rural Utah transformed his son from an unruly teen into a responsible adult. He believes the program’s key feature is "a positive, conformist sort of element [....]"

That's the key for some of these parents, isn't it? "Conformist."

One wonders what their own early years were like, if they value "conformity" in an adolescent so highly.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)
Hmmm

Over at Counterpunch, Marshall Auerback is taking on one of the major fallacies of the Bush Administation again.

Neither Compassionate, Nor Conservative

Mr Bush has now overseen the fastest increase in domestic spending of any president in recent history. Furthermore, he has never resolved the inherent contradiction between his so-called "compassionate" spending policy and his small-government tax policy (which was ostensibly designed to "kill the beast" of Big Government once and for all, according to the President's conservative apologists). And his casual dismissal of the remnants of civilian authority in the Gulf basin - "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces -- the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice" - evokes something more along the lines of Mussolini-style fascism than any coherent, mainstream conservative, philosophy.

One thing I agree with. What we're seeing is anything but coherent and completely from the lunatic fringes of politics. I don't think I'd call it a "philosophy" though. That implies that there was rational, logical thought put into it. These guys have nothing but wishful thinking and a determined blindness to reality.

(Plus? I thought it was worth reposting Bush's claim that what this country needs is the military being more active in domestic affairs. This is something to worry about, people.)

Posted by AnneZook at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)
Do It

Rachel Neumann is right. Congress should send the White House a bill that includes an unadulterated, no-nonsense prohibition of torture.

Let's see if Bush has the nerve to veto it. Let's see what the USofA population thinks about that.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:41 AM | Comments (6)
Let's hear it for the Jayhawks

Kansas University, my alma mater is taking on Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies next year as a course topic.

For the record, I had a "Bible as Mythology" class when I was in high school, (yes, in Kansas, but back when the state still knew what science was) and it was fascinating.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)
November 21, 2005
Selling War

Via Andrew Tobias today, a Rolling Stone article that lays out yet more of the Bush Administration's construction of a web of lies to lead us to war.

For months, hawks inside and outside the administration had been pressing for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. Now, thanks to Miller's story, they could point to "proof" of Saddam's "nuclear threat." The story, reinforced by Moran's on-camera interview with al-Haideri on the giant Australian Broadcasting Corp., was soon being trumpeted by the White House and repeated by newspapers and television networks around the world. It was the first in a long line of hyped and fraudulent stories that would eventually propel the U.S. into a war with Iraq -- the first war based almost entirely on a covert propaganda campaign targeting the media.

The corporation mentioned, The Rendon Group has already offered a rebuttal of the article. Or, bits of it, anyhow. They don't address the parts of the story about their complicity in murders in Panama or our betrayal of the Kuwaiti people under GHWBush. They do "rebut" one thing that's already denied in the article. (Still, to be fair, I'm offering the link.)

The most damning Iraq-related claims don't necessarily involve them directly. For instance, why was this highly unreliable and explosive "intelligence" source being interviewed by Judith Miller and Paul Moran only days after his outrageous story was heard and identified as demonstrably false?

There can be no explanation for this except the deliberate spreading of lies to the USofA and, indeed, the world public. (I'm looking at Judith Miller with new eyes these days. I have to say, it looks like she was set up.)

The key element of Rendon's INC operation was a worldwide media blitz designed to turn Hussein, a once dangerous but now contained regional leader, into the greatest threat to world peace. Each month, $326,000 was passed from the CIA to the Rendon Group and the INC via various front organizations. Rendon profited handsomely, receiving a "management fee" of ten percent above what it spent on the project. According to some reports, the company made nearly $100 million on the contract during the five years following the Gulf War.

Rendon made considerable headway with the INC, but following the group's failed coup attempt against Saddam in 1996, the CIA lost confidence in Chalabi and cut off his monthly paycheck. But Chalabi and Rendon simply switched sides, moving over to the Pentagon, and the money continued to flow. "The Rendon Group is not in great odor in Langley these days," notes Bruner. "Their contracts are much more with the Defense Department."

It's a truly astonishing article. The Man Who Sold the War.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)
November 20, 2005
Wind-swept prairies

Is the land of the Midwest returning to its roots?

Population 1: the town that's been reclaimed by the prairie

As rural economies collapse, communities across America are being deserted, as Paul Harris discovers in Monowi, Nebraska

The entire population of Monowi, Nebraska, is sitting in a bar. Her name is Elsie Eiler, 72.

Monowi. Pop. 1

The primary school where Eiler met her husband as a child is now a ruin. In fact Monowi's been in decline since shortly after it was founded. That is true of a lot of the Great Plains. Although settlers flocked to the land, the soil is too thin for quality farming and is soon exhausted. Changes in the rural economy, where Wal-Mart and other chain stores take almost all the business, have destroyed what remains.

It's an interesting article.

And, on that note, I think I'll shut up for a while.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)
Indictment

One of Abramoff's boys was indicted and seems to be lining up to testify against his old boss.

Michael Scanlon, a close associate of embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff and a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), was indicted yesterday on one count of conspiracy to bribe government officials and defraud Indian tribes.

Scanlon is expected to enter a guilty plea at a hearing Monday as a part of a plea deal, agreeing to testify against Abramoff in any upcoming court proceedings.

The Washington Post also has the story.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)
"You guys are pathetic! Pathetic!"

While you're at The Australian, read Theatre of the absurd in Washington.

Geoff Elliott, Washington correspondent November 21, 2005 FOR political theatre, Washington is usually pretty light on.

Sure, there's razzamatazz, but the deferential nature of congressmen on Capitol Hill means there's none of the rowdy behaviour you might see in Canberra or across the dispatch box at the House of Commons in London.

And you wouldn't turn up to Congress expecting scenes like those in Russia or South Korea, for instance, where "bruising parliamentary encounters" is meant in the literal sense.

But in Congress late on Friday the House of Representatives erupted in a way even veterans hadn't witnessed before.

It had been precipitated the day before when respected war veteran and Democrat congressman John Murtha called for the immediate withdrawal of US troops.

In the ensuing debate of the next 24 hours, the house's newest member, Jean Schmidt, a Republican from Ohio, made the attack personal in way politicians in the US usually try to avoid.

"A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bubp," she said, referring to an Ohio legislator and Marine Corp's Reserve Officer. "He asked me to send Congress a message: stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, marines never do."

All hell broke loose.

It's always interesting to see how the democratic process is viewed from outside our borders, don't you think?

Posted by AnneZook at 11:29 AM | Comments (0)
Beginning of a Bugout?

US to withdraw 60,000 troops from Iraq

Correspondents in Washington and Baghdad November 21, 2005 US military commanders have drawn up a plan for the withdrawal of more than 60,000 troops from Iraq by the end of next year, starting the pullout after Iraqi elections next month.

For the record? I support withdrawing the troops who are fighting an unwinnable battle. But I don't support leaving a token handful there (not that I'm saying 100k is a token) to get killed just to make it look like we still care what happens to the Iraqi people.

No matter what the Bush Administration does, they seem to do it wrong.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:24 AM | Comments (6)
Gas

When you're bitter about high prices at the pump, don't blame the station owner.

I never knew the numbers, but I figured this out years ago. I mean, why else would gas stations start sellikng food, drinks, toys, medicines, and fast food? If selling gasoline itself was so profitable, they would have stuck with it.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:22 AM | Comments (3)
Mean-spirited moment

We all have them. One of my not-so-guilty pleasures is Daily Dose of Durst.

Rumors are President Bush’s temper is so short these days it’s approaching the length of his attention span.

(I'm chatty today, aren't I?)

Posted by AnneZook at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)
McCarthyism Watch

From The Progressive:

Muslim-American Running Back off the Team at New Mexico State

his was supposed to be Muammar Ali’s year at New Mexico State. “Muammar Ali, who led the team with 561 yards rushing, will get even more opportunities,” predicted SI.com in its NCAA football preview.

But he has no opportunities now. He’s off the team.

On October 9, he “received a message on his phone answering machine at his home that his jersey was being pulled and that he was released,” says a letter from his attorney, George Bach, of the ACLU of New Mexico, to the university.

That letter, dated October 25, alleges that Head Coach Hal Mumme engaged in religious discrimination.

“Coach Mumme questioned Mr. Ali repeatedly about Islam and specifically, its ties to Al-Qaeda,” the letter states. This made Mr. Ali uncomfortable, it says.

And then, after the team’s first game, “despite being the star tailback for several years, Mr. Ali was relegated to fifth string and not even permitted to travel with the team,” the letter says.

There were only two other Muslim players on the team, and they were also released, it says. The letter adds that the coach “regularly has players recite the Lord’s Prayer after each practice and before each game.”

Ali’s father, Mustafa Ali, says the trouble started at a practice over the summer when the coach told the players to pray.

“My son and two other players who were Muslim, they were praying in a different manner, and the coach asked them, ‘What are you doing?’ They said, ‘We’re Muslims. This is how we pray.’ That had a lot to do with how things went south.”

The weird thing is that I never used to think of New Mexico as a hotbed of wingnuttery.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)
Speaking of Moyers

The Bush administration has declared war on journalism itself.

Without, in my personal opinion, getting too much flak from journalism itself.

In his speech to last spring’s National Media Reform Conference in St. Louis, Bill Moyers accused the Bush Administration not merely of attacking his highly regarded PBS program NOW but of declaring war on journalism itself. “We’re seeing unfold a contemporary example of the age-old ambition of power and ideology to squelch and punish journalists who tell the stories that make princes and priests uncomfortable,” explained Moyers. With the November resignation of Moyers’s nemesis, Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) board chair Ken Tomlinson, amid charges of personal and political wrongdoing and a host of other recent developments, it becomes increasingly clear that this White House is doing battle with the journalistic underpinnings of democracy.

There's a list of examples. The whole thing reads like a Rightwing Nixon-style bashing of the "enemies" who disagree with those in power.

In his famous opinion in the 1945 Associated Press v. US case, Justice Hugo Black said that “the First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public, that a free press is a condition of a free society.” In other words, a free press is the sine qua non of the entire American Constitution and republican experiment.

Of course, if you're Fox 'News', you demand that a "free" press include the freedom to tell lies, but since they live over there on the Right with the other heirs of Joseph McCarthy, we're not surprised.

Update: The NYTimes is on the same bandwagon.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)
Yes. We're Melting.

Millions face glacier catastrophe

Global warming hits Himalayas

Nawa Jigtar was working in the village of Ghat, in Nepal, when the sound of crashing sent him rushing out of his home. He emerged to see his herd of cattle being swept away by a wall of water.
Jigtar and his fellow villagers were able to scramble to safety. They were lucky: 'If it had come at night, none of us would have survived.'

Ghat was destroyed when a lake, high in the Himalayas, burst its banks. Swollen with glacier meltwaters, its walls of rock and ice had suddenly disintegrated. Several million cubic metres of water crashed down the mountain.

When Ghat was destroyed, in 1985, such incidents were rare - but not any more. Last week, scientists revealed that there has been a tenfold jump in such catastrophes in the past two decades, the result of global warming. Himalayan glacier lakes are filling up with more and more melted ice and 24 of them are now poised to burst their banks in Bhutan, with a similar number at risk in Nepal.

I wonder if George W. Bush will dismisse a mountain range full of melting glaciers as a "focus group"?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:49 AM | Comments (2)
Dork Alert

I'm just saying. What kind of "leader of the free world" tries to scurry out of the room in fear of a few questions?

The one we're stuck with does.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)
Afghanistan

You remember Afghanistan. The place we went to fight a war but left to address a personal grudge somewhere else?

It's still in trouble.

Just, you know, in case anyone remembers the war where we were fighting actual terrorists who actually threatened us.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)
Wow

All kudos to the LATimes today.

Someone in this country still remembers what journalism is all about.

How U.S. Fell Under the Spell of 'Curveball'

The German intelligence officials responsible for one of the most important informants on Saddam Hussein's suspected weapons of mass destruction say that the Bush administration and the CIA repeatedly exaggerated his claims during the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Five senior officials from Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, or BND, said in interviews with The Times that they warned U.S. intelligence authorities that the source, an Iraqi defector code-named Curveball, never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.

They "exaggerated."

An investigation by The Times based on interviews since May with about 30 current and former intelligence officials in the U.S., Germany, England, Iraq and the United Nations, as well as other experts, shows that U.S. bungling in the Curveball case was worse than official reports have disclosed.

They "bungled."

At the Central Intelligence Agency, officials embraced Curveball's account even though they could not confirm it or interview him until a year after the invasion. They ignored multiple warnings about his reliability before the war, punished in-house critics who provided proof that he had lied and refused to admit error until May 2004, 14 months after the invasion.

They lied.

As a result, the DIA — like the BND — never tried to check Curveball's background or verify his accounts before sending reports to other U.S. intelligence agencies. Despite that failure, CIA analysts accepted the incoming reports as credible and quickly passed them to senior policymakers.

Desperate for "intelligence" that said what they wanted to hear, they took whatever came to hand.

At the CIA, bio-warfare experts viewed the defector's reports as sophisticated and technically feasible. They also matched the analysts' expectations.

They heard what they wanted to hear.

This is a hugely long article but don't ignore it on that account. It's the kind of laying-out of what happened, or what seems to have happened, that many of us have been hoping to see.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)
A Free Press
Telling the whole truth is not an exercise to be limited to children before they reach the age of reason. It is the indispensable requirement for an effective democracy. If the press and the politicians lie to the people, or hide those parts of the truth which trouble the conscience or offend a friend, how can the people’s falsely-based decisions be trusted?

From The Texas Observer's first editorial, 50 years ago, when the face of corruption and bigotry in Texas wore a coat of Democrat blue.

Via Bill Moyer's recent speech, where he warns that today the coat is Republican Red and committing a new list of sins.

Everything President George W. Bush knows, he learned here, as the product of a system rigged to assure the political progeny needed to perpetuate itself with minimum interference from the nuisances of liberal democracy. You remember liberal democracy: the rule of law, the protection of individual and minority rights, checks and balances against arbitrary power, an independent press, the separation of church and state. As governor, Bush was nurtured by the peculiar Texas blend of piety and privilege that mocks those values. With the election of 2000, he and his cohorts arrived in Washington like atheists taking over the Vatican; they had come to run a government they don’t believe in. The results have been disastrous: reckless tax cuts, a relentless assault on social services, monumental debt, pre-emptive war, an exhausted military, booming corporate welfare and corruption so deep and pervasive it has touched every facet of American government.

Much as I hate to say it, I'm almost glad Bill Moyers got fired. He's been one of the strongest public voices the Left has since then.

I read The Texas Observer and am reminded of the Irishman who comes upon a street brawl and asks, “Is this a private fight, or can anyone get in it?” You never let us forget that democracy is a public fight.

As is the fight to keep our press free. Moyers has a point. If there's an actually honest newspaper or magazine out there that you rely on? Toss them a few bucks.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)
Too Reasonable For TV

Is that what the Left's problem is? Not that there's some "conspiracy" to shut them out of the increasingly right-wing media, but they just don't make good copy?

CNN President Jonathan Klein explained that Democrats have a hard time getting booked because they don't get "angry" enough to excite the viewers. He told Charlie Rose that liberals "don't get too worked up about anything. And they're pretty morally relativistic. And so, you know, they allow for a lot of that stuff."

Forget what the public wants to hear. News is "entertainment" not information. Stop trying to seriously address the complicated problems that face this country and start calling the Right fascists, dictatorial, and crooked.

O-kay.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)
How low?

I can't stop wondering just how low the Republicans are prepared to go. This is pretty low.

People are dying in Iraq and they're pulling stunts to improve their PR? Do they have a clue what's at stake here?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)