the watch
bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.

Evict Bush!

Saturday, October 12, 2002  

Eduardo Cohen reports on the change in US nuclear policy earlier this year which has gone strangely undiscussed. Kevin Danaher makes a case against preemption without proof.

posted by Natasha at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK |

Jesus H. Christ, George! Saddam Hussein was surely not responsible for what looks like a terrorist attack in Bali, as yet unattributed. Tourists are bailing out of the most popular travel destination in the world's most populous Muslim country as fast as they can get flights.

posted by Natasha at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK |

The Guardian today reports that America has plans for a military occupation government in Iraq. I can just see the Democratic opposition's presidential campaign commercials playing clips of Bush during the 2000 campaign saying that we shouldn't be mucking around with nation building, or even that we should be a humble nation.

While I've previously endorsed the idea of a Marshall Plan style rebuilding of Afghanistan, a person would be hard pressed to locate someone who thinks it would be a bad idea to rebuild that country. But an imposed military occupation of such a large country, one planned out before the first bomb drops? Further evidence that the administration's diplomacy-speak of the last few days was just lip-service designed to get Congress to authorize sweeping presidential powers.

What incentive is Hussein going to have now to avoid using any possible weapon he can lay hands on to deter an invasion? And who's going to pay for all this? Our economy is going down the drain, and we're going to finance the rebuilding of a country after we first underwrite its destruction? This sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen, but at least I'm not alone in that opinion.

posted by Natasha at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK |

An Arab perspective on the clash of civilizations. The second part of the article, which seems utterly disconnected... well I just don't know.

This article on the perceived smear campaign against Muslims had an interesting external perspective on the Bush administration's decision to give one of Falwell's organizations $500,000 in aid. They are apparently among the first recipients of aid for 'faith-based' community initiatives. What I can't figure out is why more Americans aren't hopping mad about it. I guess it's just not RC (religously correct) to complain that a divisive bigot, presuming that the bigot in question is a WASP, is getting federal funding.

posted by Natasha at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK |

This post at Body and Soul links to an article about the effects of a girls' school in rural Pakistan that was opened about 20 years ago. The graduates are now the economic lifeblood of their area, and often of their families.

Some of the graduates have gone on to become health workers in concert with a new local maternity hospital funded by the Gates Foundation, and the doctor who runs it stated that they couldn't do their jobs if they didn't have local workers. The women are often the only link between an illiterate family and the rest of the world.

A truly inspiring story, and an example of what 'foreign aid' would mean in a sane world.

posted by Natasha at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK |

Friday, October 11, 2002  

Via Easter Lemming, this Arab News article just takes the biscuit. This is exactly why we aren't trusted, exactly why 'they hate us,' or more precisely our policies.

posted by Natasha at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK |

Oh, the usefulness of a salt marsh. One of the many services provided free, courtesy of our planet, on a daily basis.

posted by Natasha at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK |

This article via Lisa, via Instapundit, is another 'mugged Leftist' piece accusing all progressives of being Marxists and apologists for Mao and Stalin. (News to me)

Rosenbaum, after hearing someone say that 9/11 might give America a chance to reflect on its past as Germany did, says: "Well, goodbye to all that, goodbye to the entire mind-set behind it: the inability to distinguish America’s sporadic blundering depradations (dissent from which was sometimes successful) from "Germany’s past," Hitlerism." He probably forgets that America supported Hitler pretty enthusiastically at first, and was happy to trade with him, until they realized that an ocean wasn't going to protect them. Then they started to publicly feel bad about Jews (who were, sadly, pretty universally despised at the time) getting killed, in hopes that their relatives here would support (bankroll) a war. And he forgets something else; Hitler was a right-wing fascist, which is important because...

He goes on to imply that it was no mere coincidence that the worst totalitarian regimes have all been leftist (China, Russia, etc.), and that it's a crime unique to the Left to not want to face that. And while these 'ultimate embodiments' (huh?) of leftist thought have done awful things, and I sure wouldn't want to live under them, we often forget that many of our allies are socialists. In other words, most of the good guys are leftists, too. Even though anything smacking of socialism is roundly declared to be communist in America's right-wing establishment, the EU, Canada, and Japan, are all socialists. If leftist governance is somehow inevitably prey for fascist takeover, how did it come to pass that these countries also have some of the highest living standards in the world?

And his implication that the depredations of the US have been trivial is simply incredible. Even a war of direct involvement like Vietnam practically pales in comparison to the long list of US installed dictators (right-wing fascists, if you're keeping score) like Noriega, Mobutu, and... Saddam Hussein. And lest we complain about islamofascists in Iran, we should remember that such a movement would never have succeeded if a democratically elected government was not overthrown, and the Shah's puppet regime (complete with murder and 'disappearances' of islamists) installed. As much as the people of Iran hate their present government, they're more afraid of us, and why do you think that is? To this day, in the politics of the ideological hotbed of the Islamist movement, Saudi Arabia, there's nothing worse to accuse someone of than communism. Our depradations have been global, concerted, and distinctly tilting towards fascist. What's not to examine about this?

Rosenbaum implies that 'lip-service' to the dead of 9/11 has become a necessary preamble to leftist 'America bashing'. He fails to consider that the regret may be genuine, or that without bringing it up, people are too easily dismissed as terror apologists. The accusation he levels at all leftists is that they refuse to admit that anything bad has ever been done in the name of their philosophy. Yet the same charge could more easily be made against the knee-jerk patriotism that refuses to look at America's foreign policy as anything worse than well-intentioned bumbling. Irritatingly, no one accused Israelis of opportunism for saying that they hoped this incident would help Americans understand their position. They've since used our renewed 'sympathy' as an excuse to increase the level of hostility and step up their destruction of Palestinian towns. Yet this somehow needs no excuse when faced with someone who simply hopes that our country will become more reflective?

But perhaps it's simply a sin not to feel that our dead are more valuable than the dead of other countries. While this is not implicitly stated, how else do you account for the reaction that pointing to piles of dead in other countries somehow constitutes hatred of America? Yes, 3,000 people died, and that's always bad. But awful things have been happening in the less fashionable parts of the world for a long time now that the US has either been a party to, or outright ignored. 3,000 deaths in Iraq won't even get on the news here. Why, for love of god, is it alright to be upset about the one and anti-american to be upset about the other? Maybe those deaths do not somehow constitute a blow against freedom?

Some years ago, America hired the most radical of the Afghan mujahideen to commit mass murder in the name of keeping the world safe from communism. Known islamofascists with no respect for human rights or liberty. America financed, through Pakistan, the training and travel of similar radicals from all over the Islamic world to do their dirty work. People like bin Laden were pulled from the US supported religio-fascist regime in Saudia Arabia, who has their own 'Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.' When the commies were good and licked, the US left those people in power to murder and terrorize the people of Afghanistan, and cause unrest across the region. Now that the world is pretty safe from communism, it turns out that the world still isn't safe. In the interests of not making this all about us for a moment, who should the people of Afghanistan blame for the destruction of their country? The Russians at least built some schools, America just sent in some thugs to shoot up the joint.

Whatever evils there are in the world because of governments to the left or right, everyone seems to agree that the biggest evil on the horizon at the moment is the radical Islamist movement. But looking at the chain of events, the origin of their rise to power was here, in a government who proclaimed that anyone in the world was "better dead than Red." Well, some of our people are dead now. But thank God they didn't die commies.

posted by Natasha at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK |

Lisa wonders why there are still anti-globalization protests when everything is getting so much better due to all this wonderful capitalism we have in the modern world. And I have to agree that it's pretty silly to protest capitalism. But that isn't what's happening, though it would be easy to believe from listening to mystified journalists who never seem to interview protest organizers. It would even be pretty silly to protest actual free trade, but that isn't what's happening either. (I'm not going, for the moment, to get into the environmental issues involved)

People are protesting corporate globalization, and lobbying for fair trade. If you don't think the terminology makes a difference, you'd be wrong. Our present trade systems are pretty far from what is theoretically meant by the term 'free trade', which is used so liberally by politicians that you'd think the whole world had it right this minute. As Lisa pointed out from a link to this 9-part Slate article: "According to the World Bank, economically advanced nations levy tariffs against developing nations that are four times as high as the tariffs they levy against other advanced countries... " Is that free trade?

If some of the protestors can't distinguish protesting capitalism from protesting blatantly discriminatory trade practices, I don't blame them, because news anchors and politicians can't seem to either. But I think that really, they don't want to. Capitalism is a good idea, free trade is a good idea, and who wants to be against something that sounds good? Yet the people who've appropriated these terms as belonging only to them use the excuse of capitalism as a blunt instrument to overturn democracy whenever it suits them. No one gives their farmers more subsidies than the US and EU. And Pakistan isn't the only country that finds its few exportable products blocked from western markets by high tariffs. At most, western governments and businesses believe in free trade when it suits them, and in protectionism when that suits them. And they seem to see their brand of capitalism as superceding democracy (or the will of the people in non-democratic countries), whenever that seems to be expedient, while speaking in public as though capitalism and democracy were identical.

Anti-corporate globalizers just don't believe that what's good for business expansion at all costs is necessarily good for the public. Since capitalism has been commandeered by people who believe the opposite, there will continue to be protests labeled anti-capitalist.

posted by Natasha at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK |

Thursday, October 10, 2002  

The Christian Science Monitor's Women Making History page is worth checking out. If as I said previously, there is to be a viable place for a women's political movement, this webpage reads like a partial blueprint of where it needs to go.

This article discusses the increasing prevalence of grandparent childcare in the US, a more personal and traditional option for even the busiest two-income families. In South Africa homeless women have started building cooperatives to remedy their housing problems on their own. And Faranez Nazir works to rebuild her home country, Afghanistan, through spreading literacy and basic healthcare knowledge. And here, we get to speak to some authentic 'women of cover'. (Is it just me, or do you get an overwhelming urge to smack the person who came up with that phrase?)

As a side point: These women ultimately do not see dress codes as their biggest problems, which says a lot for them, and much less of those in the west that make it the most public issue. When they all get to go to college, have jobs, own property, and move around on their own authority, they'll be in a better position enforce their decision on the subject themselves. For now, in societies where they have fewer legal protections than men, many of them seem to feel somewhat protected by the anonymity of being covered in public.

posted by Natasha at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK |

A new energy future is gaining ground in Europe, as especially evidenced by the long term strategies of EU petroleum companies like BP. And David Scott says that while the technology for going to Mars is available now, the lack of interest may delay manned expeditions to that planet for some time.

posted by Natasha at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, October 09, 2002  

The CIA strikes latest blow against doctrine of pre-emption. While director Tenet later declared that the CIA report did not contradict Bush's argument, they did in fact say that they think Hussein is a negligible threat at the moment, but was increasingly likely to use WMDs against the US in the event of an actual invasion.

Also, in the Guardian, this article suggesting that NATO call Bush's bluff on pre-emption. Dan Plesch argues that Europe is not nearly as irrelevant as American pols seem to publicly insist.

posted by Natasha at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK |

Thanks to this Eschaton post, I found an article by Phyllis Schlafly, also deploring activist judges who interpret the constitution in ways that displease conservatives.

The federal courts have invented new "rights" such as the right to abortion and welfare payments. The federal courts have arbitrarily overturned the votes of the people in California, Colorado, Arizona and Washington State who had the old-fashioned belief that they could exercise self-government.

This is an interesting assesment considering conservatives' blatant disgruntlement about the rights of Oregon citizens who decided by ballot (twice, no less) that they wanted to allow the terminally ill the right to die with dignity. Even more atrocious is the ongoing Justice Department war (only increased in intensity from Clinton to Bush) against allowing states to determine whether or not the terminally and chronically ill shall be allowed to use marijuana.

If you really want to get into a strict argument of constitutional powers, Peter McWilliams wrote a tremendous book called 'Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do'. Wherein he argues that congress has far too often interpreted the "congress shall make no laws" references in that document to mean that congress shall make *some* laws, if they feel like it, when it comes to interfering with personal freedom. You won't find many hard-right conservatives championing his views though, because they are definitely not RC (religiously correct).

posted by Natasha at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK |

I've previously linked to this Nation article on right wing judicial activism, particularly Bush nominee Miguel Estrada. But I thought I'd give voice to the opposition, as found by looking the other day for some information on Rev. Falwell.

The Christian Coalition published this action alert, suggesting that Senate Democrats should prove they are not opposed to the advancement of minorities.

The self-labeled Accuracy in Media group published this column asserting Estrada's qualifications (which largely seemed to be that he's a hard-working immigrant living the American dream) and the lousy way that a special interest dominated judiciary committee seems poised to treat him.

While I think that the Nation article neatly refutes these points, and compares present Senate behavior with the treatment Clinton's appointees (minority or not) received, it seems better to remember that there are dissenting opinions on what constitutes 'fairness.'

posted by Natasha at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK |

Monday, October 07, 2002  

Bush gave a speech tonight regarding the grave peril of Iraq. By the halfway mark, it was clear that the speech should have been titled "The Big If," or perhaps even, "The Eleven Year If."

For the full remarks, please see the link above. It looked accurate, except that as a transcript, there are several places where it should have read "nucular (sic)." My summary follows:

  • Hussein is a bad, Bad, BAD, *BAD* man and he doesn't like us.
  • He could fire missiles at countries where American expatriates and military personnel live.
  • By desire alone, he is more dangerous than all the countries who already have what he merely covets.
  • Abu Nidal, who killed 12 whole Americans, and Abu Abbas who killed 1 American, later hid in Iraq. This is not the place to mention the wanted war criminals presently retiring in Florida.
  • Because both Hussein and Al-Qaeda dislike us, they must be working together.
  • Saddam Hussein would have the miraculous power of dominating the entire Middle East if he were able to get a single atomic weapon.
  • People who hate America are indistinguishable from each other in motive and method.
  • I will now quote President Kennedy to prove that I am not introducing a radical departure from previous policy.
  • We want the UN to be effective, therefore it must do as we ask.
  • We will now insist that a country who has lost millions of citizens and thousands of soldiers immediately come up with this one pilot who disappeared in the thick of fighting.
  • Bowing to massive public and international protest that has merely grown louder with time, we will include a nod towards respecting the possibility of resolving this issue without war.
  • If Hussein orders his generals to do bad things, they should know that they will be prosecuted as war criminals in an ad hoc court that will have to substitute for the International Criminal Court we've been fighting tooth and nail.
  • If we do not act this very minute, blackmail may become a feature of world events for the *first time ever!*
  • We are very sorry that Iraqi citizens have had to put up with the kind of terror regularly featured in our central american banana republics since we first started our elite 'Paramilitaries of the Future' training at the former School of the Americas.
  • We intend to establish "institutions of liberty" as a reward for those sections of the Iraqi military who will support our permanent meddling in their country.
  • Because Hussein rules a country with internationally recognized borders, he represents a more defined threat to the security of this nation, and sort of to the world in general.
  • We did not ask to be gifted with such a good cover for our ineptitude, but we'll run with it... as far as we can.

This speech included not a shred of new or urgent evidence. It would be disappointingly easy to whip up a fury against at least a dozen other countries using virtually identical, if not stronger, arguments. I can only hope that this ends better than it presently looks like it might.

posted by Natasha at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK |

Cable news in passing:

CNN is now reporting under the title "Showdown: Iraq"

MSNBC is now reporting under the title "Countdown: Iraq." Lester Thurow reported tonight from "The Situation Room", complete with a table full of matte grey model warplanes.

CNBC's Kudlow & Kramer discussed the content and market war between satellite and cable. Kudlow remarked that the latest incarnation of the Christian Coalition had organized a 500,000 letter campaign targeting the Bush administration, declaring that only Rupert Murdoch would keep television safe for religion. I was unable to find an internet article regarding this topic, but I wanted to preserve the remark in memory.

posted by Natasha at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK |

Notes and commentary on MSNBC cable news last Friday, October 4th, 2002:

Donahue had Ralph Nader on to talk about corporate crime and his recent protest rally on Wall Street. His remarks went generally as follows:

  • There aren't enough prosecutors assigned to corporate crimes in the Justice Dept.
  • It seems to be the impression that if you have enough people in suits involved, nothing is a crime.
  • Even bank robbers only stole 9-10 million dollars last year.
  • Politics isn't about left and right anymore, it's about top and bottom.
  • In response to the inevitable lost election query: Gore beat himself in the 2000 election, whereas the Green vote helped get Maria Cantwell (D-WA) elected to the senate, helping secure a narrow liberal majority.
  • Getting to ignore corporate crime because of the war is a perk for the two 'draft-dodgers' in the White House.
  • You have to really WORK at pulling down a strong company like WorldCom, which had millions of paying customers.

As a side note of my own, I also number among those people who aren't even remotely 'over' the 2000 election theft. But I'm not blaming Nader or the Greens for it in the slightest. I put that pretty squarely on Florida Republicans (who zealously 'scrubbed' the voter rolls, among other sins), the Supreme Court, Bill Clinton, the Bushies, and a media which failed to adequately report to the public the more dubious behaviors and arguments involved in the recount.

There's also a distressing tendency among liberals and progressives to worry more about heretics than about enemies, which is exactly the wrong thing to do in the face of organized opposition. Conservatives in national election season turn their quibbles down to a simmer, focus on their core costituency, and try to look calm. Liberals in national election season argue with each other almost as much as anyone else, focus on their fringe 'constituency', and look manic. Liberal voters can feel taken for granted, like they know we have no choice whatever, which is probably why liberally inclined eligible voters are less likely to become actual voters.

Hardball with Chris Matthews was graced by an appearance of Jerry Falwell, who was invited on to speak about his recent assertion that the prophet Mohammed was a terrorist. Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations came on as a foil, but regrettably made few points. He seemed too offended by Falwell's mere existence to effectively argue, but I empathized. Of course an opponent was unnessecary; when it comes to looking like a complete wanker, Falwell is a DIYer. The main points were as follows, paraphrased from Falwell's comments unless otherwise noted:

  • Evangelical support for Israel shouldn't surprise people.
  • Most Muslims are peaceful, we are not at war with them. (Some mention was made of how his stance in this backed the president.)
  • Mohammed's behavior shouldn't be held against Muslims or the religion of Islam.
  • Mohammed was a violent man who killed innocent people.
  • Mr. Hooper countered that Mohammed was a military commander, and one who had also laid out rules for war stating (among other things) that children and old people must not be killed.
  • Chris Matthews asked whether by Falwell's definition of terrorism, any military commander could be called a terrorist. He specifically asked about George Washington and Harry Truman. Particularly on whether or not the nuclear bombing of Japan, done to end a war, would be classified this way since there were definitely innocents killed.
  • Falwell seemed to dismiss the notion that our first president had ever participated in any way in the killing of an innocent.
  • He mentioned the My Lai massacre as an act of war that he would define as terror.
  • The atom bombing of Japan was in no way an act of terror.
  • Turning to other issues, Matthews asked what Falwell thought about creating a Palestinian state...
  • Israel alone should not have to provide a solution for the 'Palestinian problem.' Falwell called on Jordan and the surrounding countries to provide placement.
  • When asked what he thought about a Palestinian state in the West Bank, he responded that there was no Palestine, just Israel.
  • Falwell further explained that it's wrong to talk about the West Bank or Gaza, it's all just Judea and Samaria, which areas are 'part of the patrimony' and belong to Israel. (This comment led to the first time ever in my memory where Chris Matthews was left looking shocked, and stating that he didn't know how to respond.)

While these positions of Falwell's may be mystifying to some, held as they are by a definitive non-Jew, I have a suspicion as to why. Most likely, it comes from the burning fundamentalist desire to assert the literal and unchanging truthfulness of the bible. Since that book alleges that god gave this land in perpetuity to a small tribe of tenacious nomads, then it must go some small step towards bringing the world in line with god's desires to make sure they have it even now. There's a certain internal consistency, which seems to fit in nicely with other Crusade and Inquisition era rhetoric coming from the Bush-Falwell-Robertson Axis of Bullpuckey. What do you expect from people who've never bothered to work for a living as adults?

posted by Natasha at 7:33 AM | PERMALINK |

A search in Google News for Asperger's syndrome references turned up some interesting stories. this one regarded a 12 year old boy who seems to be flourishing in the presence of proper encouragement. This article about a British school for children with autism spectrum disorders discusses the topic in a more general way, and had some interesting statistics at the end. It does seem somewhat unlikely, though, that their claim of 1 in 10 people having some sort of autistic diagnosis is accurate. In another search, this Seattle Times article from earlier in the year came up, discussing local programs. Apparently, Seattle is up there with the SF Bay Area in the number of cases per capita.

posted by Natasha at 5:38 AM | PERMALINK |

Sunday, October 06, 2002  

My (blogless) friend Julia attended a talk by Tim O'Reilly of the infamous technology reference publishing company, and had this to say:

O'Reilly's talk "Alpha Geeks":
Tim O'Reilly has things to say and is good at analyzing and predicting trends. Regrettably, lecture by O'Reilly was less then what I was hoping
for. I guess because it was advertised as a talk of the future, but ended up as a talk of the past. I.e. Microsoft Vs. Netscape, Microsoft vs. IBM. The
most interesting part of the talk was Q&A where people (including yours truly) asked the questions about the future. So, our future is

  • no PCs
  • wireless everywhere
  • digital video, especially personal digital video
  • P2P
  • and DRM impass being resolved with or without Holywoods help.

Interesting description of current online music scene: it's a large store with no checkout counter in sight. The customers do not want to shoplift, but there is simply no cash register to pay at.

On another note:

Harvard University this week awarded its annual Ig Nobel prizes for scientific achievements that "cannot or should not be reproduced." Ig Nobel
committee commended the executives and auditors at Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen and a host of other companies "for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world."

This 'death of the PC/wireless everywhere' prediction is a somewhat different vision of the future than that of Jakob Nielsen, usability advocate, who believes that small screened devices will never entirely replace their large screened counterparts. Unless O'Reilly was thinking of really big screened wireless devices. After all, as Nielsen has pointed out elsewhere, bigger monitors are considered to be desirable luxury items. This preference seems unlikely to go away, especially as the wired population ages. While network terminals may become the norm, instead of something you could really call a PC, those terminals will have certain size minimums set by the physical needs of the users.

The whole argument is moot, though, if we get heads up displays for the general population that could substitute for monitors. Add in a set of VR gloves, and the actual size of the end-user's equipment could be negligible, while still maintaining a correct subjective size for ease of use. But people in general aren't going to chuck their clunky, big, easy-to-read monitors and keyboards for palm pilot type devices of the sort we have today, no matter how many applications are written for them.

posted by Natasha at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK |

This Nation article, 'Operation Endless Deployment' lays out the present scope of US millitary expansion since 9/11. So much for Bush's 'humble nation' argument of the 2000 presidential debates.

posted by Natasha at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK |