Saturday, December 27, 2003

The Bush Shell Game 

Well, if you remember when we caught Saddam Hussein, you will remember that it was pretty much 24 hour news coverage of the man being checked for head lice. So you may have missed out on another important event that took place that day- Bush passed an expansion of the Patriot Act.

It used to be that the Government could look into the records of financial institutions you were involved in, limited, as it were, to banks. Now, however, "The Act included a simple, yet insidious, redefinition of "financial institution," which previously referred to banks, but now includes stockbrokers, car dealerships, casinos, credit card companies, insurance agencies, jewelers, airlines, the U.S. Post Office, and any other business "whose cash transactions have a high degree of usefulness in criminal, tax, or regulatory matters." They can do it without your permission (obviously) but also without your knowledge.

What it means that the act was signed on the weekend of Saddam's capture is beyond dirty tricks; it's that there was no sufficient debate on whether it would be signed or not. It was voted in with a voice vote so that no senator had to be individually accountable for their vote- a tactic I think ought to be illegal. There is, of course, no debate on anything Bush does, since there is a dominant Republican presence in Washington and because the Minority Leader, Tom Daschle, depends on Republican votes for his re-election. What it means, essentially, is that there is no debate and there is no discussion of any of the laws Bush wants- they get passed because that's what Bush wants. It means that I have no representation in my own government.


Thursday, December 25, 2003

So This Is Christmas...  

As of Wednesday, Dec. 24, 464 U.S. service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense. Of those, 317 died as a result of hostile action and 147 died of non-hostile causes, the department said. The department did not provide an update Thursday.

The British military has reported 52 deaths; Italy, 17; Spain, eight; Denmark, Ukraine and Poland have reported one each.

Since the start of military operations, 2,326 U.S. service members have been injured as a result of hostile action, according to the Defense Department's figures as of Wednesday. Non-hostile injured numbered 370.
-AP, 12/25/03

Air France flights between Los Angeles and Paris were canceled for a second straight day on Thursday, after American authorities notified France that suspicious people were planning to board the flights. The airline said flights were to resume normal service Friday.

[...]

Officials worried that terrorists might try to use biological, chemical or radiological weapons, installed more sensors around urban areas in California and elsewhere to detect dangerous microbes in the air.

The U.S. Coast Guard has upped its surveillance to 24 hours a day at ports such as San Francisco, where foreign merchant ships dock daily.

California Highway Patrol spokesman Tom Marshall said 28 helicopters and planes were flying patrols over electrical grids, aqueducts, major bridges, power plants and state buildings.
- AP, 12/25/03

A federal appeals court temporarily blocked some of the Bush administration's changes to the Clean Air Act, agreeing with more than a dozen states and cities that claimed the changes could cause irreparable harm to their environments and public health.

Wednesday's ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was a major setback to one of the White House's biggest environmental decisions.
AP, 12/25/03

I.B.M. has sent a holiday chill through its American employees with its plans to ship thousands of high-paying white-collar jobs overseas to lower-paid foreign workers.

"People are upset and angry," said Arnie Marchetti, a 37-year-old computer technician at I.B.M.'s Southbury, Conn., office whose wife gave birth to their first child in August.
-New York Times, 12/25/03

President Bush's campaign has settled on a plan to run against Howard Dean that would portray him as reckless, angry and pessimistic, while framing the 2004 election as a referendum on the direction of the nation more than on the president himself, Mr. Bush's aides say. - New York Times, 12/25/03

Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden will issue the next of his video messages after a massive attack on US territory, Saudi weekly Al-Majallah quotes an official of the terror network as saying, in its next edition.

Quoting an e-mail received from a man who goes by the name of Abu Mohammed al-Ablaj, the weekly reports that "an emissary of bin Laden has informed me that the al-Qaeda chief's (next) appearance (on video cassette) will come after a deadly, far-reaching operation on American territory.
The Age, 12/26/03


Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Who Would Have Guessed This Was The New War?  

"It will probably not get to the point where the U.S. will actually invade the Netherlands, but it is serious in the way that it is a warning the U.S. under no circumstances wants a trial of U.S. citizens" at the court, said Tom van der Lee, a spokesman for the Green Left party. -Washington Post

Yes, yes, I swear it's true: The Senate has authorized President Spectacle to invade the Netherlands, should they ever attempt to try an American for War Crimes. C/O Atrios


Polls.  

Everyone knows by now that Polls are more or less meaningless except as general barometers of rapidly fluctuating public opinion- and, I humbly submit, affects the "color" of political reporting on the news networks- But I have seen nothing weirder than the new slew of polls that have come out since the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Yesterday, a Harris Poll, shows Bush at the lowest he's been since he took office, with 48%. Today, however, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found Bush at his highest ratings since August with 59% approval. An Ipsos-AP poll found the same thing. Meanwhile. James Zogby reports "At week's end, polls showed the president still tied in a contest with “any Democrat”. And his approval rating, while up, was still in the mid- 50 per cent range."


Coming Soon to the NRO: "Men's Rights" Lobbies 

CHICAGO, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- For the first time since tracking began 20 years ago, U.S. women outnumber men in higher paying, white collar managerial and professional occupations.

The NRO says, "Somehow I doubt this is the end of the complaints". Am I the only one who thinks Jonah Goldberg may as well have just said "I bet this doesn't shut those whiny bitches up"? The NRO's statue of liberty would be home in the kitchen and inscribed with "Give Us Your War, Your Patriarchy... Give Us Your Glass Ceiling."


I Pledge [Classified] to the Flag, of the [Classified] States of [Classified]... 

A must read article concerning the Bush Administrations creepy penchant for secrecy. I would quote it, but the stuff kept secret last week alone takes up three paragraphs of the news story. In brief:

- Cheney wants his energy policy meetings kept secret, and has taken it to the Supreme Court.
- The White House knew two weeks prior to revealing it to the public that Paul Bremer's convey in Iraq had been attacked.
- A (forgivable) 9 months of secrecy regarding talks with Libya regarding disarmament.
- "removed from the U.S. Agency for International Development Web site remarks by an administration official that had badly understated the cost of Iraqi reconstruction."
- " the chairman of the federal Sept. 11, 2001, commission, in remarks released last week, criticized needless government secrecy [...] "I've been reading these highly, highly classified documents. In most cases, I finish with them, I look up and say, 'Why is this classified?"

Quotes:
Steven Aftergood, who directs the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, says it is nothing less than a "mutation in American politics" away from open government. "There is an unwholesome change in the deliberative process unfolding before our eyes," he said. "These are not technicalities. These are fundamental issues of American government that are now up for grabs."

Regarding the two week wait to release info about the convoy attack: "A day or two you could understand," [Morton Halperin] said. "Two weeks? It's part of an effort to portray things as getting better when they're not."

Just read the article.





Naderwatch 

Ralph Nader has announced he will not run for President as the Green Party candidate, but has not ruled out an independent run, as he did in 1996.

Apparently, Nader is annoyed by the variety in opinions within the Green Party as far as how to go about the 2004 Presidential campaign, with Green party members mostly cautious about how to go about running a Liberal alternative for President without destroying all chances of getting a Liberal-leaning Democrat in. Ideas floated by were running a Green candidate only in Republican-dominated areas, as well as simply not running a Green for President. I hope they don't run anyone. The last paragraph in the article sums it up:

In Florida, which decided the election after the Supreme Court halted a vote recount, Bush defeated Gore by 537 votes. Nader won 97,488 votes in Florida.

I voted Green in 2000; I am acknowledging my error. However, I do think the Greens in 2000 have motivated a push left for the major candidates, including Clark and Dean. I think that may be worth it, if, and only if, Dean/Clark (or, I guess, Braun or Kucinich) gets the White House in 04. If the choice was Bush v Lieberman, I would go Green as a protest vote.


Monday, December 22, 2003

Final Bash For Cash Fundraiser Roundup 

Today's Hardball cited Clark, Gephardt and Kerry attacking Dean over the weekend. My favorite was this, from Kerry spokeswoman Laura Capps: "This is anger-powered Howard trying to have it both ways. ... He's trying to make it a war of words rather than a contest of ideas."

I'm sure he is, John Kerry, and that is why I haven't seen you on the news once without saying his name.

The end result: 12 X P (Where P= Your Pledge.)

On the Record:
NTodd has bid $1.50 per attack for $18.00.
Jim Shirk has pledged $1.00 an attack for $12.00.
Ornj has a whopping $5.00 each for $60.00!
I put in $.50 but am going with a $1.00 per for $12.00.

That's a total of $102.00, which is a perfect fit for Dean's $100.00 Revolution!

Everyone who pledged is, of course, on the honor system, but feel free to comment here if you do.
I know some people have emailed me offsite with a pledge once the numbers are in, so there it is: 12. Also, anyone who wants to jump in with a donation for "Bash for Cash" fundraising can do the same- just make sure you write in "Bash for Cash Fundraiser- www.one38.org" on the "Fundraiser" comment section of the donation page online.


It's An Orange Alert Level Christmas 

Yes, yes, a fake commercial followed by a novelty Xmas song- what has this blog become?

To the tune of "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas":

It's an Orange Alert Level Christmas
Everywhere you go,
Take a look at all your cards
in case the Anthrax bomber starts-
only open letters from the people that you know!

It’s an Orange Alert Level Christmas,
Toys in every store,
But the scariest sight to see,
Is the police that will be
right there on your own front door!

It’s an Orange Alert Level Christmas,
Soon they'll close the mall,
the backpack that you bring,
will single you out for questioning
because you left it in the bathroom stall...

Radiation suits and a pistol that shoots,
Is the wish of Barney and Ben,
Masks that let you talk and go out for a walk,
Is the hope of Janice and Jen . . .
And Mom and Dad can hardly wait
for school to start again!

It’s an Orange Alert Level Christmas,
Everywhere you go . . .
Now there’s a raid in the Grand Hotel,
With white powder you can't tell,
We couldn't be too sure that it was snow!

It’s an Orange Alert Level Christmas,
The airport gates will close,
And the package that you bring,
will be sent for x-raying
when the dogs get something in thier nose!

It’s an Orange Alert Level Christmas
Soon the bells will start . . .
And the thing that will make them ring,
Is the risk the season brings,
and the fear that strikes within your heart!


From The Near Future 

Screen flashes Orange, serious government-announcement voice comes on:

GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL:
The Government has issued an Orange Alert...The Government has issued an Orange Alert...(Sound of a record needle scratching) For savings!


Cut to scene of a mall where shoppers all turn and look at the camera with excited faces.

ANNOUNCER:
All this week come in for our Orange Alert Sale! Half off all sweaters, jeans and men's slacks! The terrorists want you to stay inside- help our economy and show them you're not afraid of a bargain!

STEREOTYPICAL AFGHANI (on screen):
It's Terror-ific!

ANNOUNCER:
So come in and spend, spend spend: You never know! (Chuckles) You may not be here to spend it tomorrow! (Shot of Usama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Howard Dean)

GW BUSH:
I'm George W Bush, and I- I- I- approved this message because a weak ecomical- economal- (rushed) because a weaker spending is a weak America.


Cut to shot of customer surrounded by clothes that are being thrown around by customers searching for a deal:

CUSTOMER:
This place looks like a bomb hit it!


Bush/Cheney 04 Logo onscreen.


Sunday, December 21, 2003

Maybe Nothing, Maybe Everything 

There's news reports from Al Jazeera, as well as Pravda, concerning the capture of Saddam Hussein. I know these news sources are not the most reliable, but it is not the first report of a theory that Saddam had been held prisoner prior to capture. The new reports indicate that Saddam was captured by Kurds, one of whom had a daughter raped by one of Saddam's sons.

I'm waiting for the story to break domestically (or at least somewhere with "reputable" western-culture journalistic standards) but it might not, ever.

[Corrente has it covered, too, with much more detail.]

In slightly related news, a new poll finds that, despite much screaming and yelling from John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, 61% of Americans agree that America is no safer after the capture of Saddam Hussein, while 17% of voters think we are actually in more danger- the same number of people who believe that the risk has gone down. But that's 78% of people who fundamentally believe Saddam's capture has done nothing to protect the safety of America.

It's good news for me because it means America is smarter than its bumper stickers look.


Arlie Hochschild Nails It 

More on the political crisis posed by ignorant white trash by Arlie Hochschild, the author of the brilliantly titled book, "Let Them Eat War."

The surprise is that the people most hurt by Bush's policies are his strongest supporters. We know that there have been 2.5 million jobs lost in his presidency. He's kind of got a "bleed 'em dry" approach to the non-Pentagon part of government spending. He's not doing anything to help blue-collar workers learn new trades, or get a house, or help their kids go to college. He's loosening the Occupation Health and Safety regulations. The plants the guys work at are less safe. His agricultural policies are putting small farmers out of business. So we have to ask: why would they vote Republican?

Because they love watchin' the war on the big TV, and because they love seein' a "man in charge." This article nails it for me. People who are losing more and more power to "progressive values"- the "white male"- are starting to feel ostracized from mainstream culture the more accepting it becomes. You want to know what pisses off the NASCAR dads? Immigrants, Gays, and Liberals who like immigrants and gays. The "oppressed" white male has to "kick some ass" to maintain his position in the hierarchy, and the Bush Spectacle is exactly the series of images they need to see: Fuck the liberals at the UN, we'll kick ass on our own. Fuck the terrorists, we'll kick their ass- and anyone who says it breeds more terrorism is talking about Liberal stuff, like "feelings" and "psychology". It's exactly what I've been trying to get at with Angry 15 Year Olds for Bush.

I think this is why I have such a visceral response to The Spectacle. Because as much social progress gets made, the stronger the pro-Republican voting is going to be, and the more aggressive the White Male is going to be in defending his social position psychologically- all the while, ironically, losing economic power and the freedom that goes with it, and the more angry the NASCAR dad gets.

That's what Dean tried to address with his "Confederate Flag" speech. I hope he gets it out, because judging from John Edwards' response, America isn't smart enough to "get" Howard Dean.

Hochschild also says about Bush; he is doing nothing to change the causes of fear and everything to channel the feeling and expression of it. He speaks to a working man's lost pride and his fear of the future by offering an image of fearlessness [...] he's luring them to vote for him by offering them the emotional security of being a screw-up white-male who remains on top and gets to wear the trappings of a "real man," even though he avoided serving in Vietnam and went AWOL.


Blog Round Up 

"What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Higher Taxes?" is a really great title, and the entry is interesting, too. One of my favorite bits from "The West Wing" concerning "tax cuts":

Donna: What's wrong with me getting my money back�
Josh: You won't spend it right.
Donna: What do you mean?
Josh: Let's say your cut of the surplus is $700. I want to take your money and combine it with everybody else's money and use it to pay down the debt and further endow social security. What do you want to do with it?
Donna: Buy a DVD player.
Josh: See?
Donna: But my $700 is helping employ the people who manufacture and sell DVD players. Not to mention the people who manufacture and sell DVDs. It's the natural evolution of a market economy.
Josh: The problem is the DVD player you buy might be made in Japan.
Donna: I'll buy an American one.
Josh: We don't trust you.
Donna: Why not?
Josh: We're Democrats.
Donna: I want my money back!
Josh: Then you shouldn't have voted for us! How much were the sandwiches?
Donna: $12.95.
Josh: I gave you a twenty.
Donna: Yes. As it turns out, you actually gave me more money than I needed to buy what you asked for. However, knowing you as I do, I'm afraid I can't trust you to spend the change wisely. I've decided to invest it for you.
Josh: That was nice. That was a little parable.

I want Sorkin back!





Quick Blog Round Up:

Corrente points out a new statistic: 38% of Americans don't think Bush was legitimately elected. That's more than a fair share of "sore losers" and "Democratic activists." Corrente also has some soon to be bronzed Light Bulb Jokes:

Q: How many Republicans does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: At least 3:

1 to give the order
1 to award the non-competitive/no bid government contract
1 to have a financial relationship or connection to the company awarded the contract, such as CEO, past/current president or board member,substantial pension/stock options in said company. This person may also be a former government employee whose family is closely connected with person number 1 or his administration, or may be a large donor to the election campaign of person number 1.

NTodd's blog has a great analysis of the NYTimes article "Napster Runs for President" concerning the Dean campaign's "Internet Judo." Bark Bark looks at the same article and focuses on the blog element of it: how sites like his (and this one) are changing the face of politics. I think it's a bit presumptuous to say "changing the face of politics" but blogs are able to get information organized and disseminated in such a way as to inspire mobilization. Who would have guessed there was so much stuff to be pissed off about?

Finally, Steve Gilliard writes that we have some issues to face in regards to Homosexuals having full legal rights, which some of us mistakenly believe are entitled to all Americans.


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