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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

December 16, 2005
Interlude

Blogging will be light over the next week or so. I've been given the opportunity to alleviate the pain of unemployment by doing some temp work for a friend's company. (At half my normal salary, but any income at all in a pinch....)

This is why I didn't blog today's most interesting stories.

Interesting stories like McCain winning one for the terrorists. (Do those rightwingnuts even listen to themselves talk?)

Or, less facetiously, the Senate blocking renewal of the Patriot Act, based on serious concerns about civil liberty infringement.

And, speaking of Washington D.C., I see the House is pushing ahead with what I'm not afraid to call a piece of gross bigotry passing as a "border security bill."

And I'm sure when I get over to Bloglines tonight, I'll see a lot of people talking about Bush authorizing questionable, if not outright illegal, spying on USofA citizens.

Purely coincidentally, of course, I'm reminded of something I read...somewhere, not long ago. Someone saw a bumper sticker that said something to the effect of, "I never thought I'd miss Nixon."

And what about the story that Mr. Trent "This Country is Lawsuit Crazy and We Have To Protect Our Valuable Corporations!" Lott has filed a lawsuit against his insurance company over Hurricane Katrina damage?

Or the encouraging news that indicted Republican lobbyist and wingnut (purely my opinion, of course) Abramoff is now hearing that his former partner...no, "business associate"...has changed to pleading "guilty" to the crime that Abramoff is still saying he's "not guilty" of? Old Jack's in a bit of a sticky wicket.

And, had I had time to blog today, I sure would have talked about the latest story on the sieve-like qualities of "electronic voting systems."

Posted by AnneZook at 09:06 PM | Comments (4)
December 14, 2005
Grumble

Okay, now I'm grouchy.

Last Thursday, the mouse on my laptop inexplicably stopped working.

After a few days of trying everything (reboot, restore to an earlier date, buy a new mouse, etc.), I called Dell today, only to be told that my one-year warranty expired on the day I ordered my computer last year, and not on the day (about two weeks later) that I actually received a working machine (the first one arrived broken).

So, I missed getting warranty support by two days.

I was hoping to have some time today to read about this, but it looks like I'll be spending the rest of the day fighting with Dell on the phone. (I'll have to buy the January, 2006 National Geographic.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)
Torture

We've been down this road before.

Does it somehow lessen today’s horrors to admit that this is not the first time the US government has used torture, that it has operated secret prisons before, that it has actively supported regimes that tried to erase the left by dropping students out of airplanes? That, closer to home, photographs of lynchings were traded and sold as trophies and warnings? Many seem to think so.

Other cultures deal with a legacy of torture by declaring "Never again!" Why do so many Americans insist on dealing with the current torture crisis by crying "Never before"? I suspect it stems from a sincere desire to convey the seriousness of this administration’s crimes. And its open embrace of torture is indeed unprecedented.

I suspect it's because, an "avalanche" books notwithstanding, there are few USofA citizens who voluntarily pick up and read books on our country's recent history. And certainly not about Vietnam, which remains a deeply troubling topic for many of us.

Anything suggesting that the USofA's past isn't drenched in the light of virtuous morality is erased from the curriculum of our k-12 schools and even at university, I suspect that only students taking narrowly focused classes hear any of this kind of thing.

Despite all the talk of outsourced torture, the real innovation has been in-sourcing, with prisoners being abused by US citizens in US-run prisons and transported to third countries in US planes. It is this departure from clandestine etiquette that has so much of the military and intelligence community up in arms: Bush has robbed everyone of plausible deniability.

Very true.

This shift is of huge significance. When torture is covertly practised but officially and legally repudiated, there is still hope that if atrocities are exposed, justice could prevail. Soon victims no longer bother to search for justice, so sure are they of the futility, and danger, of that quest. This is a larger mirror of what happens inside the torture chamber, when prisoners are told they can scream all they want because no one can hear them and no one is going to save them.

Sadly, I think it could happen. I think the USofA public could become numb enough to these stories, especially with so many urgent domestic problems to worry about closer to home, that torturing "foreign" people in faraway countries could tacitly pass into acceptance.

There's a principle at stake but how much of the population has time to fight for that principle while their jobs are uncertain, when the much-denied "housing bubble" may be about to pop, erasing much of their net worth, as their childrens' schools continue to decline, and as the air, water, food, and medicine they consume daily are increasingly revealed to be potential sources of illness or even death, and as this country's infrastructure visibly crumbles around our ears?

Posted by AnneZook at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)
Dam Breech

No, not New Orleans, this time. Missouri.

Lesterville, Missouri, in fact.

I must call my mother. She lives a good 60-70 miles west of there, but still....

Also? Don't build in a floodplain. How stupid are we, anyhow?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)
December 12, 2005
Still World O'Blogging

Avedon Carol has a link to a great story about the rise of fascism in Germany.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933 and proceeded to carry out their savagery, many in the outside world asked how this could have happened in the land of Goethe and Beethoven.

"When the Radical Right came to power in the United States in 2000 and proceeded to carry out their savagery, many in the outside world asked how this could have happened in the land of Washington and Lincoln."

It's not particularly far-fetched these days, to imagine that the world will be reading that paragraph half a century from now.

_______________

P.S. Having determined that the Bush Administration and their supporters are not, in fact, actually Conservatives, what shall we call them? Is there currently a name on the political spectrum that fits their behavior?

In some ways, Communitarianism fits them. At least, they'd like to create a population so wrapped up in that kind of ethnic/religious/national identity that it could be used to manipulate the voters more easily. There's certainly a suggestion of sheep-like uniformity in the description that seems to match with the kind of population the Bush Administration approves of.

Me, I'm leaning toward, "neo-fascism" but I'm not sure it's exactly right. Besides, "neo-facist" has been in wide-spread use for a while now. You even find the Radical Right using it to smear Left-leaning media figures (and others) they hate.

Any suggestions?

Posted by AnneZook at 12:58 PM | Comments (9)
N'Awlins

Concentration camps may be a bit over-the-top, but "internment camp" seems a very appropriate description.

"It's something out of your worst nightmare."

I said something about the disaster being handled badly on all levels of government and he said "Well, you know, it simply greed and politics. The governor was Democrat, spoke out against the president prior to this and now, they are being punished for it. The president could have done something, but he didn't. I can't believe the absolute stupidity and political meanness that has gone on."
When I mentioned the mayor's plea for residents to come back, Dad said "Come back to what? There is nothing there for these people. Their homes are sitting in the middle of the street, there are no jobs, The 'white areas' are decorated for Christmas and poor sections still have dead dogs in the roads."

The Bush Administration. Poster children for democracy in action.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:38 AM | Comments (2)
World O'Blog

I know, I said I was going to comment more in other people's blogs instead of the "no-feedback feedback" of offering a link most of them will never know about.

Still. Sometimes I run across posts I think should get the widest possible exposure.

For instance, Ahistoricality offers us a glimpse of the future that the Radical Right envisions for the country:

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

Don't fail to read the article.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, while still White House counsel, wrote that the “Constitution is an outdated document.”

Note to the Radical Right, clueless Conservatives, and those of you who allowed yourselves to be stampeded by fear after 9/11: Thankyouverymuch. Your blind and mindless support of the forces that seek to destroy this country has been noted. Please be prepared to pay the bill when it's presented.

Update:

programmer.gif

Dammit. When will I remember to check the source before passing stuff along? With apologies to Ahistoricality, let me say that I rarely find that Capitol Hill Blue is a reliable source for material so I'm now doubting the veracity of this story.

Posted by AnneZook at 11:02 AM | Comments (2)
Pay Attention

Listen to Helen. She knows what she's talking about.

It's about time the "me too" Democrats, particularly those in Congress who vote with the Republicans so often, stand up and be counted.

Too many Democrats are tiptoeing around the major issues facing our nation, afraid to venture out of the mainstream. This is a big mistake at a time when the nation is begging for true leadership.

Hillary Clinton is not the candidate we need, Joe Lieberman needs to be invited to leave the party, and Howard Dean (although I've never been an unabashed fan), while not the man we should nominate, at least shows a fairly consistent willingness to speak out honestly.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)
Way-back Machine

A political party in chaos, a presidential Administration on the run from critics inside and outside their own establishment, and a president who, himself, was seen sitting in a rapidly sinking boat.

The days before 9/11.

The Bush Administration clings desperately to their war not just because of the profits involved (Lockheed Martin, the world's largest military contractor, has seen their stock value triple since Bush was...well, I guess we'll say "elected."), but because they understood that fear-mongering and whipping up bigotry among our less-admirable citizens was their only path to power.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:15 AM | Comments (2)
Not Conservative
George W. Bush is not a conservative.
Richard B. Cheney is not a conservative.
Donald Rumsfeld is not a conservative.
Karl Rove is not a conservative.
Paul Wolfowitz is not a conservative.
John Bolton is not a conservative.
Grover Norquist is not a conservative.
Bill Bennett is not a conservative.
Pat Robertson is not a conservative.
James Dobson is not a conservative.
Jerry Falwell is not a conservative.
Rush Limbaugh is not a conservative.
And Bill O'Reilly is not a conservative.

Conservative? No.
Radical, Regressive, and Reckless? Yes.

I think it's important to make the point, and to make it frequently, that the current Administration is not, by any stretch of the imagination, representative of "real" conservatism.

Maybe if we can do that, actual conservatives will feel less defensive and will realize they can abandon this cast of psychotic imcompetents without guilt.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:01 AM | Comments (2)
More Trouble

First we had race riots in France, now we're having them in Australia.

What did you expect in an increasingly polarized world where the "have-nots" see less and less reason to believe they will ever receive fair treatment and the "leader of the free world" has been heard to make remarks indicating he sees himself as leading a religious crusade against Islam?

In this country, the current administration has no qualms about whipping up fear or hatred around religion or skin color. Looks like we're "leading" the "free world" down the path of bigotry, violence, and repression.

__________

Update: For an interesting view of how Fox(not)News covered the Paris riots, see this story.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)
"Most Wanted"

"Most Wanted" Corporate Human Rights Violators of 2005

Lethal products and practices.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:23 AM | Comments (2)
Grouchy

Something's gone wrong with my computer. When I plug the optical USB mouse in, it lights up like it's getting power through the USB port, but the mouse itself doesn't work. It was a "plug and play" device, so there's no software I can reinstall. I tried buying a new mouse, but it didn't work either. Surfing today's internet without a mouse is really a pain.

In other news, George Bush thinks the Founding Fathers were representatives of an an aggressive foreign power that invaded the colonies' borders and rammed democracy down the people's throats, so he's as clueless about history as he is about current events.

Not that the democracy we have today is the kind of thing most of the Founding Fathers would be happy to claim as their own. What on earth is happening in Ohio? Making it illegal to challenge the results of the vote count in presidential elections?

Wow. If anyone from Iraq is watching, I wonder how they feel about the kind of "freedom" we're modeling for them?

Posted by AnneZook at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)