May 24, 2006
Standing Up to The Lemmings
I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell
and I don't have time
to go 'round and 'round and 'round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should
- Dixie Chicks, "Not Ready to Make Nice"
It seems easy for many people to get over their own poor behavior. But call them on it, and you're accused of dredging up the past and rubbing their faces in it. They go on the attack, instead of admitting they were wrong and offering an apology for their past words and deeds. Who needs people like that, whether in their personal lives, or as fans? If you have any respect for yourself, you cut them loose and leave them to fend for themselves. People who are willing to drape themselves in the flag ought to be willing to come home in flag-draped coffins. But that supposes people realize that words and actions have consequences. Perhaps that's giving most people too much credit.
Addendum: You can hear the Dixie Chicks song on their myspace page.
May 01, 2006
No Heiress Left Behind
The title of this joint report from Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy pulls no punches: Spending Millions to Save Billions: The Campaign of the Super Wealthy to Kill the Estate Tax.
"Unfiltered by Rational Argument"
After reading the text of Stephen Colbert's appearance at the White House Correspondence Dinner, I'm quite amused. But Lloyd Grove notes that the insider response to Colbert was rather chilly:
As for the after-dinner entertainment, the conventional wisdom was that Bush killed with his self-mocking routine — "The President was fantastic," gushed staunch Dem Patricia Duff — while the hired talent, Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert, bombed badly. "It was an insider crowd, as insider a crowd as you'll ever have, and he didn't do the insider jokes," said BET founder Bob Johnson.
Paying the Price
The Cost of Gas: Gas prices are up as a reflection of continuing, worsening instability in the Middle East and our foreign relations with oil-producing countries. People hiss "Conspiracy!" and demand relief. But the price of gas indicates that our free market economy works. So if you're a hard-core believer in capitalism, why all the bitching and moaning at the pump? Isn't that what this country is about, for some of us to get as rich as we can and to hell with everyone else?
Mission Accomplished: As for claims of conspiracy, how about an illegitimate war based on the tragedy of 9/11, a war foisted on the American people in order to settle a personal score? We have Saddam, but bin Laden and his followers are still on the loose. Iran and North Korea, known problem states, pursue their goals of nuclear power.
Iraq is in the midst of a civil war - pretending that it isn't doesn't make it so. Iraq has become an excellent training ground for Al Qaeda and other terrorists - because of us. Our invasion, our occupation, our setting loose the religious fundamentalist impulses that were kept under check during the Hussein regime, have made that possible. The United States is not into nation-building, but we believe in liberating people so that they can build their own nation. Whether that's peacefully or through civil war is for them to work out amongst themselves.
Illegal Immigration: On the radio this morning I listened as a DJ complained about his neighborhood La Fonda being closed today to express its support of immigrants who work in this country, legally or not. He warned listeners that some of our favorite eateries could be closed. He felt he was "paying the price" - that is, his neighborhood restaurant being closed - so that illegal immigrants and their supporters could go protest and make their voices known.
We all pay a price. Illegal immigrants depress the price of labor by being willing to work for less money. But their willingness to be paid under the table is what makes many products and services affordable for us.
Illegal immigrants may be illegal, but that doesn't mean they're subhuman. The accident of our birth in this country doesn't give us the right to look down on them, to be sequestered in our comfortable lives and make cheap jokes about rounding people up and shipping them off or shooting them. 'Cause that's soooo funny, right? To mock people who have to escape where they're from in order to make a better life for themselves and their families?
In my family, I am a first-generation American. My parents are immigrants. They came here, legally, for their higher educations. They could have lived decently in Thailand, but they wanted to come to the U.S. for its opportunities and they wanted their children to have good lives here. Their life has not been easy. They have been productive people. They have pursued business opportunities, with some success and some failure. In recent years they have each become a U.S. citizen.
There is no question that people should come to this country legally and take the necessary steps to pursue work and citizenship. But it costs time and money to do that - and if you are poor and jobless and your family can't sponsor you, are you simply supposed to accept that you and your family are doomed to a life of poverty and squalor? You do what you have to in order to survive.
Survival isn't some stupid reality-show concept - it's a condition of life for many, many people in this world.
Immigration reform does not mean just throwing up a fence and paying for a militia to patrol our borders. A guest-worker program is the best viable solution for dealing with the problem. Reform the system that people have to go through so that they don't sneak into this country and work undercover. There should be a penalty for people who come here illegally, but that doesn't mean something draconian. If people are in the system, they can contribute taxes, their children can go to school, they can get medical assistance instead of hoping the illness will just go away. Yes, we have to deal with this issue, as we must deal with many others, but simply because we are better off and comfortably situated - not necessarily rich - our comparatively lofty situation does not give us the right to be smug, clueless, hateful, heartless people.
March 28, 2006
Local Officer Tickets Driver for Anti-Bush Bumper Sticker
A woman was pulled over and ticketed by a DeKalb county police officer for having a "lewd decal" on her car - a bumper sticker that says "I'm Tired Of All The BUSHIT." The officer told the woman that the sticker violated a county ordinance and wrote a ticket for $100. The woman, Denise Grier, plans to challenge the fine on the grounds that the ticket violates the First Amendment, that she was targeted for her political expression. As she should. The ticket should never have been written in the first place.
Andisheh has a more eloquent post here.
Driver fights ticket for bumper sticker [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
"Bush War Blues"
Billy Bragg recorded a song called "Bush War Blues" - it's available on his site as a free download.
February 08, 2006
Another chapter in the history of violence
CNN is currently running an article "Bush urges end to cartoon violence." I know what the headline means. I know that this is an extremely serious situation. Yet part of me thinks the title for this is funny. Funny in a bleak way, I guess.
I understand why these political cartoons would incite anger, but this tsunami of riots and mob violence across the Muslim world is a frightening response. Frightening - and childish.
It does not help their case in the eyes of the Western world to be seen as emotional, irrational, perhaps even savage and uncivilized. Their anger may be justified, but lashing out like this makes it difficult for non-Muslims to take their concerns seriously, except as forces to be contained, to be kept at bay. Which isn't much of a solution, either.
I find it hard to see the value in a religion that inspires people to wreak havoc in the world, to persuade others of the rightness of their beliefs, to force others to submit to their will, through violence and the fear of violence. Religious fundamentalism, no matter its origin, demands submission, refuses compromise, and denies the merit of anything that does not fit into its particular world view.
I do not say that all Muslims are like this, I know that isn't true. But when I read the news, it's hard not to believe otherwise.
January 26, 2006
I know that talking politics is not for polite conversation, but this is a blog. How do you feel about Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court? Are you for or against him? Why? Yes, really, I would like to know. Frank discussion - but of course, civil and polite - would be welcome.
These are my main thoughts about Alito - and yes, I've signed petitions, I've sent emails and I've also called my Senators.
1. Alito's record, as shown in memos that surfaced, shows that he has given strategic thought to how to erode Roe v. Wade. Not If he were on the bench, wouldn't that be considered judicial activism?
Abortion should be safe and legal. It shouldn't be used as birth control - and birth control methods and sex education should be available and accessible to young women so they're not having abortions or babies that nobody wants. If your personal beliefs make you opposed to abortion, I respect that. But it is not your business to interfere with a woman's private decision.
2. Why all the deference to executive power, when as a Supreme Court judge, his concern ought to be the separation of powers, the maintenance of the system of checks and balances between the judiciary, the legislative and the executive branch? Where are all the conservatives who claim there needs to be strict readings of the Constitution?
And the rest of you: WHY ARE YOU NOT PAYING ATTENTION? Because this matters a lot more than American Idol or Dancing/Skating/Crocheting with the Stars, ok? I'm not a tremendous activist by any means. But it is not too much trouble to make a phone call or write a letter or even send an email.
Why do I bother? Because I'm not going to sit here and do nothing. You can have an opinion either way, but if you're not going to act in support of your beliefs, then your opinion is essentially worthless.
November 16, 2005
The Latest About Target, Emergency Contraception
And the FDA may have had a political reason *gasp* to reject the Plan B emergency contraceptive: Report Details F.D.A. Rejection of Next-Day Pill [NYT, 11/15/05]
November 09, 2005
His other name is Wormtongue
Says Scott McClellan to reporters about the revelation of CIA secret prisons around the world: "The leaking of classified information is a serious matter and ought to be taken seriously."
GOP Leaders Urge Probe in Prisons Leak [WP, 11/9/05]
November 04, 2005
Most recruits from rural areas, the South and West, per Pentagon data
As sustained combat in Iraq makes it harder than ever to fill the ranks of the all-volunteer force, newly released Pentagon demographic data show that the military is leaning heavily for recruits on economically depressed, rural areas where youths' need for jobs may outweigh the risks of going to war. [Added emphasis]
More than 44 percent of U.S. military recruits come from rural areas, Pentagon figures show. In contrast, 14 percent come from major cities. Youths living in the most sparsely populated Zip codes are 22 percent more likely to join the Army, with an opposite trend in cities. Regionally, most enlistees come from the South (40 percent) and West (24 percent).
October 31, 2005
My Letter to Target
According to Planned Parenthood, a Target store pharmacy refused to fill a birth control prescription to a customer in Missouri on September 30. I sent an email through their action page and got a brief, generic letter from Target about how Target respects the diversity of its employees.
Now I've just read about a woman in Arizona who was raped and her prescription for emergency birth control was refused by the pharmacist for "moral" reasons. This decision was supported by the pharmacist manager, who offered to fill the prescription himself, if the young woman and her friend accompanying her could get to the store within 10 minutes - because his shift was ending. This incident happened at a Fry's Food Store pharmacy in Tucson. Arizona doesn't have a shield law protecting pharmacists with delicate consciences, but many of the pharmacies there have corporate policies that allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions based on moral grounds.
What I'm wondering is why such people are in this profession. Find another career. If denying birth control to women, including women who've just been raped, so offends you, then get out of the field.
I haven't let the horror of this story sink in yet. To divert my attentions, I finally wrote my reply to Target:
I am extremely disappointed with this lackluster response. I have been a loyal Target customer for years. I really enjoy shopping at your stores and I am extremely upset about having to give that up. There was a location that opened near where I live and I was really excited about it. But ever since I learned of the incident at your store pharmacy in Missouri, I have stopped shopping at Target, because I am very angry about your policy.
If your pharmacist is incapable of doing his or her job based on his or her personal beliefs, that is a problem. That person has no business being one of your employees. If a customer comes in with a birth control prescription, written by her doctor, it should be filled without comment. It's one thing if there's a professional concern, such as if the customer is taking other medication and the new medication could interfere with that. I agree with that - your pharmacists SHOULD exercise their professional judgment. But as for their personal judgments, those are irrelevant and SHOULD NOT come into play when a woman comes in to get her prescription filled. What the pharmacist thinks personally is irrelevant!
It is not acceptable to refer the woman to another pharmacist or another pharmacy. What if the store is the only store in town for miles? What if the medication is needed as soon as possible? By allowing this behavior, Target practices bad customer service by interfering with a woman's private choices. Because Target allows its pharmacists to choose not to perform their jobs, jobs which are given state licenses in order to practice, Target chooses to provide substandard service to its customers, which is appalling.
This corporate policy is unacceptable. I don't even care if in this particular incident in Missouri is shielded by state law to protect a pharmacist's conscientious objection. I live in Georgia where such a law exists, and that law is wrong. If your organization can't be bothered to hire professionals who are capable of performing their jobs, then I will have to take my business elsewhere. I have already told friends and family about this, and they feel just as strongly as I do. So you have many disappointed customers who will also be taking their hard-earned money elsewhere because of this policy. I strongly urge you to please reconsider your policy.
October 28, 2005
Where in the World is Robert Novak?
Lewis "Scooter" Libby Indicted
Copy of indictment available here. He's also resigned from his position at the White House.
October 26, 2005
If you're so gung-ho for this war, then get your ass over there and help finish this thing. Unless you think dying for no reason isn't worth dying for. The reason we went in - a bogus reason - is not the reason we're still there. The original reason we were given for going to war has everything to do with why somebody leaked the identity of a CIA operative when her husband wrote an op-ed column in the New York Times challenging the White House's claim [addendum: made via a report from the British government] of yellowcake uranium.
We have a volunteer army, it's argued. A volunteer army is better to have than a conscripted one. Well how much of a volunteer are you if the military is the only option for you to escape poverty, if you don't have the option of going to college? How much of a volunteer are you if it's illegal for you to quit the military once you join?
If the draft was reinstated, then people would take this war more seriously. Then people would realize they have something at stake, if they or their children actually had to fight in this war, or any other war. Then people might realize what sacrifice for the sake of your country really means. Things seem different when your own life is at stake.
Sure, people would go to Canada or some other country claiming asylum or conscientious objection. The wealthy and well-connected would find ways to escape their obligations. (Chickenhawk Cheney skipped Vietnam because he had "other priorities.") Fine - somewhere it will be on record and the press can expose them and challenge them on why they were exempted from fulfilling their duty as citizens.
As an aside, I find myself increasing angry with the New York Times and the case of Judith Miller. Miller isn't a saint protecting the freedom of the press. She's an irresponsible, reckless journalist who allowed herself to be used by sources to drum up justification for this war. She's damaged the field of journalism and she's damaging the credibility of the NYT (at least in the eyes of those who don't already view the NYT as part of that liberal media, a liberal media owned by such prominent liberals like Rupert Murdoch). She ought to be fired, not allowed to take a leave of absence and then resign to "pursue other interests." Fire her ass, and let her try to explain that her work and her practices weren't dishonest and fraudulent.
October 07, 2005
The New Reds
Bush on Iraq: "God told me to" I guess we have to run the country with the president we've got.
Isn't it ironic that Republicans have claimed the color red, that there are red states? It wasn't so long ago that to call someone a "Red" was to accuse the person of being that ultimate of evils, a Communist. Now Republicans are the new Reds.
September 19, 2005
Final Report by Federal Commission on Election Reform Now Available
The commission, headed by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James A. Baker III, has issued its final report, Building Confidence in U.S. Elections (7.6 MB). Significant reforms have been recommended, including a uniform voter ID card, verified paper trails for electronic voting machines, and nonpartisan, independent administration of elections, among other recommendations.
I'm particularly interested by the call for a national voter ID card, considering that Georgia now has a state requirement for a valid photo ID in order to vote (Provisional ballots are available to those without ID on election day, but with a requirement to produce photo ID within the following days or else the ballot becomes invalid). Georgia's law has been criticized as a new poll tax.
July 28, 2005
I find it interesting and frustrating that only now do more people (U.S. citizens, that is) realize that the "war on terror" hasn't resulted in "mission accomplished." Where was this skepticism back when links between Saddam and 9/11 were scattered around like confetti?
The following links cover the administration's choosing of new choice phrases such as the "global struggle against violent extremism" instead of the "global war on terror." When the language you're using isn't working - to market your product, to advocate your policy - just change it. Reframe the debate, redefine the reality. Black is the new black, extremists are the new terrorists.
July 01, 2005
But it still sucks. I'm already getting emails from NARAL and Planned Parenthood asking for donations and activism.
June 29, 2005
The Pot and the Kettle
I haven't lost my clout, Bush says [Seattle Times] Trailing the play on this news. Oh the layers of absurdity:
In what has become a monthly session with reporters, Bush said an Amnesty International report condemning the U.S. treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was "absurd."
"It seemed to me they based some of their decisions on the word of - and the allegations - by people who were held in detention, people who hate America, people that had been trained in some instances to disassemble - that means not tell the truth," Bush said. He appeared to have intended to use the word "dissemble." [Emphasis added]
Bush disassembles English language, again [BoingBoing]
This isn't amusing - it's depressing.
June 02, 2005
This is Your Brain on Dangerous Ideas
Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries This list probably should be cross-referenced with the American Library Association's list of Most Banned Books.
March 23, 2005
Oh the Hypocrisy
By now most people who read liberal blogs are aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's wishes. It is called the Texas Futile Care Law. Under this law, a baby was removed from life support against his mother's wishes in Texas just this week. A 68 year old man was given a temporary reprieve by the Texas courts just yesterday.[via messages from the ether]
January 21, 2005
What a Country, or Why I Love the Interweb
Say hello to my new bumper sticker. Stickers and other objects are available for purchase.
December 30, 2004
Foreign Aid - It's All How You Measure It
Foreign Aid: An Introductory Overview of U.S. Programs and Policy [Order Code 98-916, dated 4/15/04] From a report prepared by the Congressional Research Service, a division under the Library of Congress:
"The United States is the largest international economic aid donor in dollar terms but is the smallest contributor among major donor governments when calculated as a percent of gross national income."
Are We Stingy? Yes [NYT] If Americans are offended by Jan Egeland's criticism about the West - as in wealthy industrialized nations, not just the United States - that rich nations are "stingy" for not donating even 1% of their GNP for humanitarian/foreign aid purposes, then maybe we should examine why we're so quick to take offense. And hey, let's make a horrific disaster on the other side of the world all about US and OUR hurt feelings. (This calls to mind that scene in Dr. Strangelove when the President calls Russia to explain that a nuclear bomb is accidentally heading to Moscow and the President whines "Well, how do you think I feel?") Good thing individuals are willing to dig in their pockets, because we're not exactly getting a rousing call to action from the Man Who'd Rather Be Clearing Brush than Leading the World By Example. For instance, Amazon's tally of donations to the Red Cross - encouraging people simply by setting up a link - is now at $5,734,758.29, based on 91,095 donations.
Aid Grows Amid Remarks About President's Absence [Washington Post] And let's not ignore the opportunity take political cheap shots during times of tragedy. Josh Marshall aptly notes about this same article: "President's latest response to the tsunami tragedy: badmouth Bill Clinton."
December 23, 2004
Where's Your Ribbon?
Those magnetic ribbons are everywhere, the yellow or red, white & blue ones with phrases like "Support Our Troops" or "God Bless America." These often strike me as empty gestures, especially when it's a big yellow ribbon on a giant SUV. (Honestly, who needs a tricked-out Hummer on the streets of Atlanta, let alone anywhere?)
The prankster in me wants to move the ribbon to another spot on the car. The wicked me wants to trace the outline of the ribbon with a Sharpie, maybe write some counter-phrase within the outline - and then replace the magnetic ribbon. Well maybe not a Sharpie - a grease pencil or something. I wouldn't want to steal one - that's just mean.
At PoMo Sideshow, you can order custom magnetic ribbons with alternative phrases such as "More Patriotic Than You," "God Bless Jingoist Ribbons," "Where is Your Ribbon?" and others. You can also provide your own phrase for your ribbon. I guess if I were to pick one, I'd go with something more serious than snarky, like "Demand Open Source Voting" or "Real Patriots Question Bush." Of course, then I'd worry about someone stealing my ribbon, because it's just so darn cool. ;) But they offer different ribbon sizes and you can specify whether you want an indoor magnet or one that would be used outdoors, like on your car.
December 19, 2004
Buying Blue (or even Green)
BuyBlue.org is a fairly new organization whose goal is to inform progressively-minded consumers which companies are more "blue" in their practices - the idea being that we can direct our consumer spending accordingly. At the moment, the criteria for BuyBlue's lists of Blue and Red companies is what political contributions were made during the most recent election cycle. Eventually the group will expand its criteria to take into account other factors. From their FAQ:
Are political contributions the right way to go?The group's first goal was to generate an initial list in time for holiday purchases - not surprisingly, a lot of the big box stores are quite red. Still, I wasn't thrilled to see that Target and Amazon.com were on the red side.
We get asked this question often. Most of the time someone is writing us to say that corporation X is classified as blue/red and because of their actions with labor, the environment, minorities and other issues they really should be on the other side.
We realize that basing our Blue Christmas list on political contributions alone is a flawed approach. Our future vision is to provide you with a comprehensive picture of a corporation which will include things like environmental policy, labor policy, minority issues, gender issues, etc. However, we wanted to get something out to you in time for Christmas and political information is far easier to come by than some of the aforementioned items. Look at it as a first step we are taking towards corporate transparency in order to arm you with good information to make your purchases.
Of course the issue isn't just which retailers to frequent with one's business. It's which companies to support through buying their products. Ultimately, it goes beyond simply becoming better-informed; it's about becoming a better consumer. What I need and what I want are separate concerns; simply because I can buy something doesn't mean that I should. I am surrounded by an overabundance of things; paring down would be far better for my peace of mind (and my budget) than acquiring more.
This isn't going to be an overnight process for me. (We are talking about a girl who has a ridiculously long wishlist at a certain online vendor, after all.) But now I have a starting place: how and where to wield my wallet.
November 09, 2004
In a Twist
Somebody's got their rant on: Fuck the South.
November 05, 2004
Consider Me Mobilized
I have to do something. I don't know what, but I cannot sit through another four years stewing. This is an improvement for me from the last few days, when I wished horrible things would happen to people in their snug little homes in the red states, since they have such a fetish for terrorism on their doorsteps. There are good people out there, even if they have persuaded themselves to go with their impressions instead of subtance. We have to somehow connect with the moderates, break through the labels and stereotypes that are fed to them and show that we aren't elitists who look down on them, that we too are good people, that we have moral values and care about a lot of the same things that they do. We have to do better at mobilizing our own base, and demonstrate to progressives and independents that we actually have something to offer by joining forces. And actually offer something, not just pay lip service.
I've been guilty of thinking that people "out there" are stupid lemmings - even though I'm living amongst these people. I really don't relate to those who feel that their god has a hand in everything they do; sometimes I wonder what's the difference between having faith and being crazy. That doesn't mean I'm better than these people - but they aren't better than me, either, no matter that their faith gives them cause for arrogance and assertions of moral superiority. To my mind, true faith requires humility and living your life accordingly. It's a good way to live one's life, whatever your beliefs.
I'm pretty consumed by politics right now, but I don't intend that it will become the focus of the Armoire either.
November 03, 2004
So I watched Kerry's speech this afternoon. I'd planned to watch on the web or listen to NPR but one of my coworkers had a small television. We crammed into her office. I sat on the floor, holding my head.
I'm pretty sure everyone else in the department is Republican, but they're nice people. I like them a lot. I like them even more for not gloating and rubbing this in my face.
I tried not to cry, but I did. The leaky-eye kind of crying, not the hiccupy-hyperventilating-choking sobbing. I had steeled myself, after all, hoping against hope that I'd be wrong. That's the thing about being a pessimist - you're never disappointed. Still, I would rather not have been emotional in front of my boss and my coworkers, even though we're a close-knit department.
For all that I wished I could've been passionate about Kerry, I didn't wish this moment on him either. Even Sunshine Edwards couldn't hide the sadness in his eyes. Damn it, leaky eyes again....
If the rest of my department watched Bush's speech, they were kind enough not to invite me.
Resolved, Not Resigned
Inconsolable, perhaps. But after thinking about it more precisely, I'm not resigned. I'd like to see Ohio's election results thoroughly accounted for, including these provisional ballots. Even though the statistical projection means that the current administration is already declaring victory, I don't want Kerry and Edwards to concede just yet. We've been here before. Whatever the outcome, I want to trust that Ohio has taken every step it can to verify the complete (and not merely projected) results of a true and accurate election.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still angry that we got stuck with this smirking chimp in the first place. I still think there are a lot of gullible people in this country, who wrap themselves in the flag and in their faith and manage to be hateful, selfish and small-minded anyway. I'm disappointed by the apathy, by these fence-sitters who couldn't decide to decide, but whatever. I think the country is in horrible shape right now, but maybe things will have to get even worse before they get better. Maybe more people will have to experience personal loss or hardship in order to realize that there needs to be change. If we're fortunate, the press won't be cowed by the administration again. And this time, bloggers will be around to nip at everybody's heels.
Yeah, I feel like I've been hit in the solar plexus. I feel grim - that I'll be gritting my teeth for the next four years - or longer, depending how bad things continue to get. But we can't give up. We can't let our spirits be crushed beneath the policy tanks of this administration.
Don't Mourn, Organize [Daily Kos]
UPDATE: Kery just conceded. Fuck fuck fuck. Well, OK then. We'll just have to keep fighting.
I changed train cars last night because of an asinine conversation between a woman and a homeless man. She took the opportunity to complain how Marta has no money to maintain the system, evidenced by our train being held at a station, and he complained about how Marta needs to make sure the bathrooms are open more often, because "when you got to go, you GOT to go!" Then she asked him whether he voted. He said "For who? For what?"
At this point I got up and moved. I just wanted to ride home in peace and quiet, especially on this day. I didn't want to hear pointless discussions by people who think they're all enlightened for
talking to lecturing a homeless person when they have absolutely no interest in helping that person. Shut up and quit being an asshole.
This morning it was really quiet on the train. People seemed pretty glum and resigned. Or maybe it was just me, trying and failing to hold back tears.
November 02, 2004
You're Only A Day Away
Ok, the sun will come out tomorrow. If not locally, then somewhere. The world will not end. I will still be here, even though I'm feeling bleak, because I don't dare hope that things will change. To have hope is to risk heartbreak. I only have direct control to change my own life, and heck, I need to do a better job at that. Today, not tomorrow.
I find it hard to have faith, to believe in the goodness of others, not just the bad. To believe in myself is a regular struggle. But despite everything, despite the differences we have and the flaws that still need to be resolved, we believe in democracy. We believe in it so inherently that we take it for granted. It makes me sad and angry that more people don't exercise their right to vote. But it's good to see that more people bother to care this time around.
Paul Krugman's Election Day column is worth reading, regardless of one's political leanings. The worst one can say is that it's maybe a little bit sappy. But I'll take it.
Vote or Shut Up
I voted last week by absentee ballot. I'd like to feel my vote counts, but this state bleeds red. Still, I did it.
I've been steeling myself to expect problems, that there won't be a definitive result at the end of the night. To expect the worst, if there is a result. I'm feeling pretty malevolent and pessimistic about the ability of my fellow citizens to be responsible, rational people. I guess we'll see what happens.
October 15, 2004
Trashing the Vote: Can We Stop Them?
Yesterday I read that Nader's been thrown off the ballot in Pennsylvania, because the petition seeking to add him contained bogus names and addresses, leaving the number of valid signatures well below the required amount. It's possible Nader has better ideas. But I don't like him and I think he's a shit. No matter what he says, he's a spoiler. Of course if Kerry were a better candidate, someone who could appeal to progressives and moderates, the election wouldn't be so close. Of course, who knows how accurate the numbers are going to be anyway, given that there are organized efforts all over the country to fix the vote. It's not just the issues with electronic voting machines. It's tampering with voter registration through whatever means possible.
My first awareness today was in Paul Krugman's column, which outlines voter registration issues going on all over the country, but especially in swing states:
Earlier this week former employees of Sproul & Associates (operating under the name Voters Outreach of America), a firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters, told a Nevada TV station that their supervisors systematically tore up Democratic registrations.
The accusations are backed by physical evidence and appear credible. Officials have begun a criminal investigation into reports of similar actions by Sproul in Oregon.
Republicans claim, of course, that they did nothing wrong - and that besides, Democrats do it, too. But there haven't been any comparably credible accusations against Democratic voter-registration organizations. And there is a pattern of Republican efforts to disenfranchise Democrats, by any means possible.
Here's the story from KLAS-TV, the Nevada local news outlet that's investigating the story. You can read the story and also see it presented as a news segment. There is footage of ripped-up voter registration applications and the reporter even goes so far as to contact one of the people who thought he had registered and was shocked to find out his application had been trashed. And guess what? KLAS has another story that connects Voters Outreach of America to Ralph Nader; apparently the group obtained petition signatures to get Nader on the ballot in Arizona, and perhaps elsewhere.
At Daily Kos [via Zeebah], I read more about Nathan Sproul of Sproul & Associates. He was a former head of the Arizona Republican Party. Of particular note is how Sproul & Associates, operates as Voters Outreach of America but posed as America Votes - a real, Democratic voter registration outreach organization - during voter registration drives. And they're doing this in public libraries! Leave it to librarians to compare notes and figure out some of what's going on.
The more I find out about stuff like this, the more I fear that there will be riots.
October 08, 2004
The Earth is Round and the Sun Also Rises in the East
I guess I can deal, so long as the sun still revolves around the Earth. I'll be at the bar, if anyone needs me during tonight's
Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), ridiculed the administration's arguments during a campaign rally in Bayonne, N.J., accusing Cheney of convoluted logic and asserting: "Here's the truth: The vice president, Dick Cheney, and the president, George W. Bush, need to recognize that the Earth is actually round. That the sun rises in the east. . . . They need to level with the American people."
October 05, 2004
Not Drunk. But Not Sober Either
I'm having a glass of wine. It's the only way I can watch the debates without my head completely exploding. I can't sit still. I keep leaving the room, although I'm still in earshot. It's not that I need to watch these to be informed, to decide how I'm going to vote. I guess there's the possibility of true confrontation, instead of just the endless spin and recitation of messages.
October 04, 2004
The deadline to register to vote in the state of Georgia is TODAY. A few helpful links below. Applications can be made in person at the appropriate county office or by mail to either your county office or the Secretary of State's office (no faxing, apparently). Appropriate identification (ie, copy of driver's license) will be necessary. Of course you're already registered to vote, right? ;)
Voter registration application (GA Secretary of State) - It's a PDF that can be filled out online. Has to be postmarked by today's date - 10/4/2004.
September 10, 2004
If All You've Got is One Thin Dime
The vice president says that the usual indicators that measure unemployment, consumer spending and other economic milestones don't account for the many who sell goods on eBay. On the stump in Cincinnati (that would be Ohio, a swing state), Cheney notes, "That's a source that didn't even exist 10 years ago" and that "Four hundred thousand people make some money trading on eBay."
In response, John Edwards said that Cheney and Bush were "out of touch" and that "If we only included bake sales and how much money kids make at lemonade stands, this economy would really be cooking."
September 09, 2004
A firm-wide email was sent yesterday mentioning that my building was having its "annual (post 9-11) evacuation drill." The city fire department may participate, so I might actually see Atlanta firemen coming up the stairs as I walk down some 50-odd flights. Free ice cream will be handed out afterwards. [Update: No firemen, but I did get a frozen fruit bar, yum.]
The last time I had to leave a building through the emergency stairs, it was the summer of 2001. ConEd accidentally cut some cable that provided power to my building's elevators. My legs were kind of rubbery by the end, and I was a little surprised to see some of New York's Bravest hanging around in the lobby - but they were there for anyone needing help to get down the stairs. One of my coworkers was at the full term of her pregnancy and she didn't want to wait for the guys to come get her. So she walked with some of the secretaries and a guy from the mailroom, who all kept watch on her. It wasn't a surprise that she ended up having the baby a day or two later.
In the days or weeks after 9/11 I heard that my office building was one of those evacuated because of a bomb scare in or near Grand Central. But by then I was going to school full-time and looking for library work. In my downtime I would walk around aimlessly, the smell of scorched chemicals and dust strong in the cool crisp air. Flyers for the missing were taped everywhere. Every so often I'd pass a firehouse. I didn't gawk, but it was impossible to miss the flowers and candles and the dark swags of fabric draped over the archways. In the end, I have no personal tragedy, no dramatic stories to tell about that day. And that makes me damned lucky.
The thought occurs to me: If we concentrate and focus our collective mental energies - could we will Dick Cheney's heart to burst into a thousand flaming pieces? Although I think he deserves a slow, debilitating, long-suffering, excruciatingly painful death for many reasons, what he said in Des Moines on Tuesday is appalling. From a Washington Post article on 9/8/04:
Cheney went beyond previous restraints to suggest that the country would be more vulnerable to attack under Kerry. "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again," the vice president said, "that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts and that we are not really at war."
There are complaints about overreaction to the remarks, about the lack of context, etc. etc. No, I think I read and heard it pretty plainly: If you vote for the wrong guy, you're going to die. My apologies to the people of Des Moines, but terrorists don't care about you - not enough to set off suicide bombs on your little Main Streets. You can afford to be glad and smug that you don't have the glitzy international prominence and symbolism of New York and DC to make you an easy target.
Now, of course, Cheney's in clean-up mode, helping us to understand what he really said. Right - because we're too stupid to understand. We're all just hysterical liberal media (but owned by the conservative, right-wing elite - Rupert Murdoch, anyone?) and leftist pinko handwringers who need the paternal condescension and wisdom of our Republican elders to guide us through these black, apparently never-ending days of fear and terror. To quote Mr. Big Time! - "Go fuck yourself."
Cheney: Kerry Victory is Risky [Washington Post] [bugmenot]
Cheney Spits Toads [NYT] [bugmenot]
We're Just Glad They're Not Using 9/11 for Political Purposes [Wonkette]
September 08, 2004
Thank you, Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter wrote a letter to Zell Miller, a copy of which was published in today's editorial pages of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Thank you, Jimmy.
To Sen. Zell Miller:
You seem to have forgotten that loyal Democrats elected you as mayor [of Young Harris] and as state senator. Loyal Democrats, including members of my family and me, elected you as state senator, lieutenant governor and governor. It was a loyal Democrat, Lester Maddox, who assigned you to high positions in the state government when you were out of office. It was a loyal Democrat, Roy Barnes, who appointed you as U.S. senator when you were out of office. By your historically unprecedented disloyalty, you have betrayed our trust.
Great Georgia Democrats who served in the past, including Walter George, Richard Russell, Herman Talmadge and Sam Nunn, disagreed strongly with the policies of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and me, but they remained loyal to the party in which they gained their public office. Other Democrats, because of philosophical differences or the race issue, like Bo Callaway and Strom Thurmond, at least had the decency to become Republicans.
Everyone knows that you were chosen to speak at the Republican National Convention because of your being a "Democrat," and it's quite possible that your rabid speech damaged our party and paid the GOP some transient dividends.
Perhaps more troublesome of all is seeing you adopt an established and very effective Republican campaign technique of destroying the character of opponents by wild and false allegations. The Bush campaign's personal attacks on the character of John McCain in South Carolina in 2000 was a vivid example. The claim that war hero Max Cleland was a disloyal American and an ally of Osama bin Laden should have given you pause, but you have joined in this ploy by your bizarre claims that another war hero, John Kerry, would not defend the security of our nation except with spitballs. (This is the same man whom you described previously as "one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders --- and a good friend.")
I, myself, served in the Navy from 1942 to 1953, and, as president, greatly strengthened our military forces and protected our nation and its interests in every way. I don't believe this warrants your referring to me as a pacifist.
Zell, I have known you for 42 years and have, in the past, respected you as a trustworthy political leader and a personal friend. But now, there are many of us loyal Democrats who feel uncomfortable in seeing that you have chosen the rich over the poor, unilateral pre-emptive war over a strong nation united with others for peace, lies and obfuscation over the truth, and the political technique of personal character assassination as a way to win elections or to garner a few moments of applause. These are not the characteristics of great Democrats whose legacy you and I have inherited.
Sincerely, and with deepest regrets,
September 07, 2004
Zell Miller, Servant of the Dark Side
For those who haven't been keeping up, follow the link to watch Zell Miller's speech at the Republican National Convention. Or read the text of the speech, although I don't think the text alone provides the full impact . I venture to guess that even the Republicans - some anyway - regret having him deliver such a big F.U. to his party. He's further evidence for my theory that every time Georgia makes national news, it's never good. Maybe most Georgians don't care how they're perceived by the national media - but this is the kind of thing that makes other people wonder whether we have paved roads in Atlanta. And Atlanta isn't even the Deep South, if you go by what people in the rest of the state believe.
Poor Zell. He used to be a governor, the chief executive for his state. Then he became a legislator, one of a hundred U.S. senators, many of whom had at least equal if not greater standing than he during their terms in the Senate. He found himself in the distasteful position of having to negotiate with other legislators instead of being the head honcho big-shot executive of his state branch. Perhaps he didn't feel he was getting his due from his fellow Democratic colleagues. So he pimped himself out to the other side, who trotted him out at their national convention - and what did they get? The rage of Satan banished from Heaven, the wrath of a scorned
woman politician. It played well to the delegates in Madison Square Garden, but what about the television audience? He and his wife were supposed to be sitting in the Bush family box when Dubya later gave his acceptance speech, but they weren't there with Laura and the twins. Perhaps they were disinvited - completely unofficially, of course. Can't imagine why.
Side note: here's an article by Frank Rich in the 9/5 NYT "How Kerry Became a Girlie-Man" that addresses the theatrical setup for how the Republicans wish to shape the opinions of the
feebleminded undecided. Ok, that's not fair. People feel torn by principles and have to decide who is going to least screw them over in the next four years. I just hope they're actually thinking about these things and not letting the spin - from both sides - persuade them. Because if Arnold "I'm a Fucking Clown" Schwarzenegger is going to win you over by calling the opposition "girlie men" then I don't know that we can have an intelligent debate. But I guess that's not the point, is it?
September 02, 2004
The Diebold Variations
September 01, 2004
Vote by Absentee Ballot
That's it, I am no longer trusting Diebold election machines with my vote. I've used the machines twice now, but there's no fucking way I'm going to risk the manipulation of my vote in the general election. Doesn't matter that Georgia is going to Bush, that my vote won't belong to the majority. What matters to me is that it's counted correctly. It's not that I really believe that the election, at least in this state, would be fixed - it's that it could.
Issue: Manipulation technique found in the Diebold central tabulator -- 1,000 of these systems are in place, and they count up to two million votes at a time.
By entering a 2-digit code in a hidden location, a second set of votes is created. This set of votes can be changed, so that it no longer matches the correct votes. The voting system will then read the totals from the bogus vote set. It takes only seconds to change the votes, and to date not a single location in the U.S. has implemented security measures to fully mitigate the risks.
This program is not "stupidity" or sloppiness. It was designed and tested over a series of a dozen version adjustments.
In another post, Harris notes that there are unusual items on Diebold financial ledgers, the most interesting of which is a payment of approximately $144,000 to Georgia Lottery Services, Inc., an entity which apparently has nothing to do with the Georgia Lottery.
August 30, 2004
Redacting the Supreme Court
The following quotation is from a Supreme Court opinion - United States v. United States District Court for the Eastern Dist. of Mich., 407 U.S. 297, 314 (1972):
"The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect 'domestic security.' Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent."This passage was among those blacked out by the Justice Department from ACLU court filings pertaining to its lawsuit against the PATRIOT Act - for security reasons. Read more about this and see the contrasting passages, courtesy of The Memory Hole.
Justice Department Censors Supreme Court Quote [The Memory Hole]
August 27, 2004
Dissecting "War on Terror"
An excellent intervew with linguist George Lakoff. Definitely worth the read. For instance:
You've said that progressives should never use the phrase "war on terror" — why?Lakoff also has a forthcoming new book called Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, currently available for preorder from the publisher, Chelsea Green (and soon to be available on Amazon and elsewhere).
There are two reasons for that. Let's start with "terror." Terror is a general state, and it's internal to a person. Terror is not the person we're fighting, the "terrorist." The word terror activates your fear, and fear activates the strict father model, which is what conservatives want. The "war on terror" is not about stopping you from being afraid, it's about making you afraid. [Emphasis added]
Next, "war." How many terrorists are there — hundreds? Sure. Thousands? Maybe. Tens of thousands? Probably not. The point is, terrorists are actual people, and relatively small numbers of individuals, considering the size of our country and other countries. It's not a nation-state problem. War is a nation-state problem.
June 17, 2004
Georgia voter registration deadline Monday, June 21
The registration deadline to vote in Georgia's primary election is this coming Monday, June 21. (The Georgia primaries are on July 20; the general election is on November 2.)
June 10, 2004
Flight of the Saudis
TIA now verifies flight of Saudis (Jean Heller, St. Petersburg Times, 6/9/04) From the beginning of the article:
Two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, with most of the nation's air traffic still grounded, a small jet landed at Tampa International Airport, picked up three young Saudi men and left.
The men, one of them thought to be a member of the Saudi royal family, were accompanied by a former FBI agent and a former Tampa police officer on the flight to Lexington, Ky.
The Saudis then took another flight out of the country. The two ex-officers returned to TIA a few hours later on the same plane.
For nearly three years, White House, aviation and law enforcement officials have insisted the flight never took place and have denied published reports and widespread Internet speculation about its purpose.
But now, at the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, TIA officials have confirmed that the flight did take place and have supplied details.
I probably wouldn't have posted this, but my eye was caught by the note following the article:
Times researcher Kitty Bennett [sic] contributed to this report.
So Kitty's finally done something with herself besides moon after officers in red coats. ;)
May 25, 2004
Politics Made Local
Fundrace takes political contribution data that is publicly available from the FEC (Federal Election Commission) and maps it. So people can type in an address or even a name to find out who's donating to whom in their neighborhood. Maps for some of the country's big cities are available - and yes, there's even one for Atlanta.
For more reading, check out "Street Maps in Political Hues" [Tom McNichol, NYT, 5/20/04]
May 07, 2004
Decency & Dignity Denied
Why is it that glory reflects upon the nation as a whole, but shame is to be blamed on a few rogues who don't represent the rest of us?
We are supposed to be different. We are supposed to be better. So much better that we shouldn't even be compared to the previous guy in charge - you know, the one who was the dictator committing all that evildoing.
You can say up and down that Saddam, Milosevic, Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, etc. are all very bad men who have committed atrocities against their own people, and you'd be right. What that means is that we, as the freedom-loving, oppressed-people-liberating flagbearers of democracy should have been extra-vigilant about our own actions. We should hold ourselves above and beyond the standards we're expecting others to commit to.
People who stupidly wonder why the US could possibly invoke such hatred now have another reason to ignore. Do you feel safer now, do you think our soldiers are safer - now and in the future - now that there's proof of violations of the Geneva Convention? The Middle East already believed us to be savages and barbarians - now they have images that they can twist anyway they like to smear all of us.
"Torture at Abu Ghraib" New Yorker piece by Seymour Hersh asserting that these abusive activities were encouraged and condoned so as to allow for more effective interrogations.
"Battlefield of Dreams" [Paul Krugman, NYT, 5/4] "What's truly shocking in Iraq, however, is the privatization of purely military functions." Did you know that we're outsourcing interrogation duties? That some of the people accused of the abuses are "contractors," and that the military can only recommend what should be done about them, that there are no laws to address them because they are civilians?
Early on we had the soap opera regarding Jessica Lynch. Now we have another West Virginian, Lynddie England, labeled in the Australian press as a "Good ol' girl who enjoyed cruelty" [Sharon Churcher, The Daily Telegraph, 5/7]:
"Lynndie England, 21, a rail worker's daughter, comes from a trailer park in Fort Ashby, West Virginia, which locals proudly call "a backwoods world".
She faces a court martial, but at home she is toasted as a hero.
At the dingy Corner Club Saloon they think she has done nothing wrong.
A lot of people here think they ought to just blow up the whole of Iraq," Colleen Kesner said.
"To the country boys here, if you're a different nationality, a different race, you're sub-human. That's the way girls like Lynndie are raised.
"Tormenting Iraqis, in her mind, would be no different from shooting a turkey. Every season here you're hunting something. Over there, they're hunting Iraqis."
It's hard to qualify this kind of reception as anything but a disaster. If we are getting coverage like this from friendly countries, the coverage in hostile countries has got to be exponentially worse.
May 06, 2004
The American Assembler offers a chart that appears to indicate that states with higher average IQs voted Democrat in the 2000 presidential election.
Addendum: I initially posted this in the comments but realized it would be better to include here. I re-checked the site, which now offers a correction:
Error Correction: The source of this data is not "Wealth of Nations" as it had been attributed to us. A reader writes in and tells us he has the book (Sorry to hear that Mike) and the state IQ's aren't in it. This is a huge relief as the book is one of those race/IQ books. So we're still trying to track down the source for the IQ scores. As this is all a bit of good fun we aren't to [sic] concerned with the source.
So take it with a grain of salt, as I should have in the first place. I'd prefer that they care about having a reliable source, even if it is just for fun.
March 18, 2004
Maureen Dowd's latest column, entitled "Pride and Prejudice," draws apt, yet cringe-inducing comparisons between the presidential candidates and Jane Austen's characters. John Kerry is Pride, akin to Mr. Collins, whose wife is all "condescension" like Lady Catherine. President B___ is Prejudice: "Like Miss Bennet, who irrationally arranged the facts to fit her initial negative assessment of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bush irrationally arranges the facts to fit his initial assessment that 9/11 justified blowing off the U.N. and some close allies to invade Iraq."
But Lizzy realizes how blind she has been. B___ will never admit he was wrong.
Having just finished Reading Lolita in Tehran, a memoir that intertwines the literary and the political, I appreciate Dowd's references to Austen. And yet I wish she had left our sparkling dear Jane out of this muck.
March 11, 2004
Dirty is as Dirty Does
You can generate your own Bush/Cheney poster in PDF. Wonkette is collecting slogans from readers and reporting what words are being filtered out by the site's techies. There's only so much language they can filter out. Special characters don't work; only alphanumerics as far as I can tell. However, placing spaces between the letters of filtered words lets you get by, so far.
Yeah, it's totally juvenile. But now I've got signs that say "Lords of the Underworld," "For the Rich, White, Christian and Straight" and my current favorite, "ACCESS TO E V I L."
March 09, 2004
Check out the dramatic graph that illustrates U.S. job growth in Paul Krugman's most recent column, "Promises, Promises."
March 05, 2004
Ends Justify the Means...
Especially if you're Republican.
Report Finds Republican Aides Spied on Democrats [Neil A. Lewis, NYT, 3/5/04] A redacted version of the report was supposed to be released, but the version naming the staffers, Manuel Miranda and Jason Lundell, got out instead. According to the article:
Mr. Lundell was described in the report as a young and curious clerk who was eager to impress his superiors. The report said that he freely admitted to Senator Hatch and investigators his role in the matter and had left Washington to attend graduate school in accounting in Texas. His whereabouts could not be determined.
Is anyone else disturbed that this "young and curious clerk" who stole documents for 18 months is now going into accounting? Of course I'm also disturbed by the stupid level of security that made this breach possible.
Former Senate Staffers Faulted in Memo Leaks [Steve Turnham, CNN] Of interest:
[C]onservative groups, such as the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, contend the content of the memos is more important than how they were obtained, charging that they show Democrats were colluding with outside interest groups to develop strategies to block President Bush's judicial nominations.
Hmmm. So should we not-hack into Dick Cheney's office and not-steal those energy memos he doesn't want the American public to see, because it's not any of our business as to whom they speak to for their "unvarnished" opinions?
February 25, 2004
I wasn't up to writing when I heard that W. finally decided to endorse the amendment of the Constitution to ban gay marriage. Everybody's reacting, like Andrew Sullivan, whom I normally don't agree with. Of course Margaret Cho. Here's a funny take on the situation: Attack of the Gay Agenda (swiped via Paul Frankenstein). There's an NYT editorial as well as an article.
I knew it would come to this. And yet I'm still incredulous that the leader of our country is willing to mess with the Constitution in order to shore up his political base, promoting bigotry, hatred, and discrimination through prescribed morality. But then he's always avoided the issues of his presidency by plunging us into war, so what else is new?
February 19, 2004
Everyone Loves A Wedding
Unless it's a gay wedding. Why is that? Why are straight people so vehemently opposed to allowing gays the right to be married? I've read accounts, seen pictures, read the news about what's going on in Massachusetts and San Francisco. Just reading about people camping out overnight to wait in line at the courthouse, and city workers volunteering to help so more people can be married, makes me want to cry with happiness. But at the same time, I'm troubled. Not "troubled" the way Yahoo-in-Chief is troubled, but more like Barney Frank, who's worried that what's happening in San Francisco will hurt the constitutional efforts going on in Massachusetts.
But honestly, I don't think civil unions are good enough, because at best you have rights in one state, or in the states that are willing to acknowledge other states' granting civil union certificates. Whatever the name for the license, whether it's "marriage" or "civil union," the rights should be equally the same, recognized by the 50 states and the federal government. Less than that is legalized discrimination and - let's call it what it is - selfishness and bigotry.
What rational reason can there be for defining marriage as only between a man and a woman? Why do straight people insist on reaping all the benefits of marriage - the ease of getting married, the legal status and benefits, as well as the ease of dissolving the marriage - but leave everyone else to bear the costs? Religious arguments are irrelevant because matters of church and state are separate - at least they're supposed to be. If the church (whatever church, whatever religion) wants to discriminate, that wouldn't be anything new, but that's up to the church. The government should not be in the business of interfering with people's personal lives.
If the "sanctity of marriage" is such a big deal, why is it that no-fault divorce is so popular, so that even if only one of you wants out of the marriage, that's enough for the divorce to go through? Why is it that a dimwit like Britney Spears can get married and divorced within 55 hours, but not gay couples who have been together for decades?
What are straight people afraid of? That your wedding announcements won't get into the newspaper because you'll also have to compete with gay couples? Too late - as if it weren't hard enough to get into the New York Times wedding pages, the paper now publishes those of gay couples as well. Just think how the wedding industry would get a serious boost if gay people had weddings - wouldn't that be good for the economy?
What, that somehow more people will "turn" gay? That your straight marriage is less meaningful because gays can marry too? I mean, what, what reasonable explanation can there be for otherwise intelligent people to get so emotional and irrational about this issue?
Why are straight people allowed to arrange their lives as they wish, but not gays? What makes gays second-class citizens, who are in every way equal to straight people except in whom they love?
January 30, 2004
"We Were Almost All Wrong"*
From 1/28, "Ex-Inspector Calls for Inquiry on Prewar Intelligence" (Kirk Semple, NYT):
The former chief American weapons inspector in Iraq refuted suggestions...that intelligence analysts were under political pressure to bolster President Bush's case for war, saying that faulty intelligence-gathering was to blame for the belief that Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction.
The inspector, Dr. David A. Kay, also called for an independent inquiry into the errors of the intelligence community. "It's quite clear we need capabilities that we do not have with regard to intelligence," he said during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C.
"We were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here," Dr. Kay said.
* "We" meaning the US and the UK. "We" doesn't include the UN weapons inspectors - Hans Blix, anyone? - or Germany, France, Russia, China and all the other nations who thought the intelligence was too weak to justify going to war.
"We" are the evil leading the stupid, who wonder why the rest of the world could possibly hate us.
January 23, 2004
Today's Paul Krugman column: Democracy at Risk. He spells out, to a wider audience than has been keeping tabs thus far, about the risks and dangers of Diebold's touch-screen voting machines. He gives a shoutout to the problems here in Georgia, which uses these machines - which I'm supposed to use this election year to allegedly record my vote in the upcoming election?!? You can't even get a printout that confirms your vote - we can get printouts at ATMs but not from the e-voting machine? How messed up is that?
Zephoria suggests that we get around having to use Diebold (or other) electronic voting machines by registering for absentee paper ballots, which I'm strongly considering.
And lest I sound paranoid:
Infiltration of Files Seen as Extensive: Senate Panel's GOP Staff Pried on Democrats [1/22/03, Charlie Savage, The Boston Globe]
Republican staff members of the US Senate Judiciary Commitee infiltrated opposition computer files for a year, monitoring secret strategy memos and periodically passing on copies to the media, Senate officials told The Globe.
From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003, members of the GOP committee staff exploited a computer glitch that allowed them to access restricted Democratic communications without a password. Trolling through hundreds of memos, they were able to read talking points and accounts of private meetings discussing which judicial nominees Democrats would fight -- and with what tactics.
The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and were posted to a website last November.
Senate Inquiry Into Memos That Went Astray Nears End [1/23/03, Neil A. Lewis, NYT]
Manuel C. Miranda, a former Republican Judiciary Committee staff member, whose name appeared as a recipient of one of the Democratic e-mail messages and who has been questioned by Mr. Pickle's investigators, said in an interview Thursday that he knew how the documents were obtained by Republicans. He said that a junior member on the staff of Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had discovered a flaw in the computer system that allowed him to read some of the Democratic computer traffic.
Mr. Miranda, who is now a senior staff aide to Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, said that the junior aide was reading the Democratic documents from about May 2002 until the early fall of 2002. The aide, who has since left the Senate, passed some of those memorandums to Mr. Miranda and other Hatch staff members, Mr. Miranda said.
"Those documents that I did read were, in my view, not obtained in any way that was improper, unlawful or unethical," he said. He described them as "inadvertent disclosures that came to me as a result of some negligence on the part of the Democrats' technology staff." His only obligation, he said, was to see that the Democrats were told that the computer system had a flaw that allowed Republican aides to read some of their memorandums.
"I knew our people had told their people about it," Mr. Miranda said. "Once I knew that, I had no further obligation."
He described the junior staff aide as someone who had a great deal of time on his hands, and he said most of the documents the aide gave him were of little value.
"There was no systematic surveillance, no hacking, no stealing and no violation of any Senate rules," he said.
Sure, this isn't political espionage. It's not political insider trading. The ends justify the means, yadda yadda.
November 12, 2003
What's Wrong With This Picture?
This is President Bush on November 5 signing the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, surrounded by the male sponsors of the bill, who numbered 10 in all.
November 06, 2003
U.S. to Revive the Draft?
Serve Your Community and the Nation - Become a Selective Service System Local Board Member: "The Selective Service System wants to hear from men and women in the community who might be willing to serve as members of a local draft board."
Here's a sampling of the foreign coverage:
Will U.S. bring back the draft? [Toronto Star]
[Thanks to Scott for the links.]
October 29, 2003
A Linguist's View of Politics
George Lakoff, UC Berkeley professor and member of the Rockridge Institute, a progressive think tank, takes a linguistic approach to political debate, explaining why conservatives are more successful at framing the debate:
"...[C]onservatives, especially conservative think tanks, have framed virtually every issue from their perspective. They have put a huge amount of money into creating the language for their worldview and getting it out there. Progressives have done virtually nothing."
October 08, 2003
Marriage Protection Week, Oct. 12-18
Proclaimed by W. himself. Because dealing with internal felony-inducing leaks, the Middle East and the sucky economy are not enough.
The legal rights that come with civil marriage should not be limited to heterosexuals. Gays have significant others that they want as their partners for life, and they're taxpayers and voters too. If churches want to dictate and discriminate as to the makeup of religious marriages, that's up to them.
Although I have crossed over and am married now, I think there should be Singleton Protection Week. Do you know, Mr. President, how humiliating it is to be a single woman or man surrounded by couples when you go to a dinner party? The marrieds grill you on your love life, seeking vicarious thrills through your romantic travails and ask deeply personal questions and point out how you're not getting any younger. Then they wax rhapsodic about their couple-y activities - having babies, buying a house, going on a second honeymoon even though it's only been a few years since the first one - and sighing happily, smugly, that in spite of all that's going so well for them and keeping them so busy, they still have time to hold each other's hands and coo gooily to each other in public, proclaiming to the world just how much they are still in love. And then they look at you blankly as you (for the most part) honestly declare that your life is quite fulfilling even though you don't happen to have a significant other at the moment.
Can you not see, Mr. President, the plight that singles suffer? In addition to Singles Protection Week, there should be Relationship Promotion Week. For the most part, people don't want to be single, but it's awfully hard to find The One. Perhaps a week of awareness might help in that regard. Every week would be even better.
October 07, 2003
Yeah, because having star power in the box office naturally qualifies one to run a state the size of a small country.This isn't really news, yet I'm still surprised at just how flaky people are in California. I have quite a few friends out there; I only hope I know them well enough to trust that they didn't vote for a sexist pig action hero.
Addendum: Gawker's open letter to California - "You are a state of stupid self-hating fruitcakes. But we're still concerned. We'll build the political equivalent of a battered women's shelter for you when your hot and totally dysfunctional love affair with Arnold is over."
October 03, 2003
"Slime and Defend"
Please read Paul Krugman's column about the leaking of a CIA operative's identity by unnamed sources in the current administration. Robert Novak, long-time journalist/conservative stooge, seems "surprised" that all this fuss has come about from his July 14 column in which he revealed the damaging information. Whatever, old man.
If you haven't read Krugman before, you should. He writes clear, analytical pieces that consistently pierce the smokescreens thrown about by this administration and their aides and abettors. Somebody, or several somebodies, is guilty of a felony. Who knows how many information lines have been severed, either because sources have been scared off, or perhaps even killed off, all in the name of political revenge against Joseph C. Wilson IV, the operative's husband and the former ambassador who criticized the President's bogus claim of Iraq's attempted buying of nuclear materials from Niger.
I wonder if the pinheads who burned Dixie Chicks records can wrap their brains around this one. Who is less patriotic, a musician who said she was ashamed of being from the same state as our Chief Executive, or the people in the Chief Executive's employ who broke the law by leaking a CIA operative's identity? Who is actually the traitor to this country?
Addendum: Buzzflash interview with Paul Krugman, dated 9/11/03.
September 26, 2003
Wish He Were Still My Senator
September 18, 2003
The Gospel of Supply Side Jesus
September 08, 2003
I am not fond of citing USA Today, but here's a story to chill the soul:
It's really depressing to realize people can be so damned gullible, undiscerning, and frankly, retarded.
September 05, 2003
The Remote Fix is In
Will Bush Backers Manipulate Votes to Deliver GW Another Election? A blunt question asked by Democracy Now! The article interviews Julie Carr Smyth, a reporter with The Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Bev Harris, author of Black Box Voting: Ballot-Tampering in the 21st Century.
Smyth has reported that the head of Diebold, one of the companies that manufacture electronic voting systems, is a top Republican fundraiser. Hmm, the CEO of a maker of voting machines promises to deliver votes for Dubya. Harris' research has uncovered a file off of Diebold's own website that is a time and date-stamped file of election data from San Luis Obispo County, California, data that seems to have been retrieved during actual voting hours. What this suggests is that Diebold, or some other interested party, could not only retrieve election data during a live election, but potentially send data as well, and thereby fix the results.
The news about Diebold just keeps getting worse. And while alarming in its own right, this is the very electronic voting system that's now being used in my state. *shudder*
July 15, 2003
Bill Moyers Interviews Jon Stewart
I'd like to watch the actual interview, but you can read the transcript, which is also worthwhile. I really, really should watch The Daily Show more often. It takes real news, real headlines - I'll recognize quotations that are actually in articles from the New York Times - and finds the genuine humor in it. There are times when I'm actually hysterical with laughter - the clip in which Stewart "moderates" a debate between President and Governor Bush brought me to tears. (Go to the show's site to check it out.)
...[I]t is real clear to those of us who understand the Twelve Step program that these are very dysfunctional times. We live in a very dysfunctional society, and this is a very, very dysfunctional Administration. The proven way for this Administration to keep power is to keep us all in fear. As long as we are afraid of the unknown and afraid of each other, he, or anyone like him, can rule. It's like they will take responsibility for protecting us. It's when we take back the responsibility for protecting ourselves that they get scared.
I don't watch The West Wing, I generally take more interest in celebrity comments as to gossip. But this remark is hilarious and apt.
While the administration backpedals and downplays the severity of Bush's citing sketchy information in his State of the Union speech - information that was supposed to justify going to war - U.S. soldiers are still dying in Iraq, Afghanistan is falling back into the hands of the warlords, we're sending military "advisors" to Liberia, and now North Korea is claiming that they've extracted fissionable material from their nuclear rods. And there's still no peaceful solution for Israel and the Palestinians - a holy grail if there ever was one.
Hell. Handbasket. See you there.
June 25, 2003
The Road to Oceania
William Gibson has an op-ed in today's NY Times: "Writing in the shadow of Orwell, it seemed very strange to be alive in 1984. In retrospect, it has seemed stranger even than living in the 21st century."