bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.
In this Stand Down discussion, someone once again implied that Hitler was a communist by saying they didn't think he was a devotee of the free market.
The previous framework of the discussion explored the connection in American conversation where the words communist and traitor appear to have become interchangeable in some sense. Which is why you can be accused of communism for being a peace advocate, even though the term also has the implication of bloodthirstiness. Hitler came up because someone was wondering why leftists feel the need to apologize for Mao and Stalin when cornered, but capitalists never seem to have to apologize for Hitler, Suharto, or Pinochet. I am not a communist, but I despise imprecision of such magnitude, so this is my response:
The US doesn't even have a 'free market' in the true sense of the word. In fact, free market may actually rank as the number one most abused term of our era, and it can't be proved really to exist anywhere. We employ protectionism, subsidise certain industries, and block goods that our own companies can't compete with. Any country that has the power to do it, also does it. Maybe it's even necessary and great, and it doesn't preclude capitalism, but it isn't a free market.
While capitalism and democracy are often found together, they are not synonymous, nor always together. Capitalism is an economic concept, not a political concept, which entails private ownership of business. Free market ideals are a subset of capitalism. And there are so many combinations thereof, it can make your head spin.
Modern day Europe is for the most part made up of politically parliamentarian socialist democracies, economically capitalist but without a true free market. The US is a democratic republic (small r) politically, capitalist economically, but also not free market. Many poorer nations are at present some form of military government (with or without looming democratic reform) politically, capitalist economically, and often more free market than either the US or Europe.
If you really want to be sure that Hitler was a capitalist, you can either watch Schindler's list or do more extensive searching. The Hugo Boss, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Deutsche Bank, Siemens, and Volkswagen companies all sold goods to the Nazis, many taking advantage of the free labor, they were private enterprises not owned by the government. Nothing against those companies today, but they existed before the Nazi regime, through it, and after it. Even many of Japan's pre-war zaibatsu survived WWII in one form or another, they had always had private business as well. Both definitely capitalist, but that capitalism made them neither peaceful not democratic. Wouldn't have been the case in Russia or China, where private enterprise has only now reemerged.
Does it matter that Hitler was a capitalist? Only if there are crazy people running around who think he was a communist, because these two things do not generally go together. Otherwise, it is neither an excuse nor an indictment in itself, just a correction to fuzzy thinking.
In a purely Communist country, there really is no separation of the politics and economics. The government owns every single business, no private enterprise whatever. Hence, the maximum inefficiency. But there has rarely been a human government that was 'purely' anything, and that's probably for the best.posted by Natasha at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK |
That's Republicans for you. Borrowing from the future to make merry today. They're using up our environmental capital so fast, you'd think it was international goodwill.posted by Natasha at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK |
Friday, November 08, 2002
Check out the DSIRE website to find out about clean energy programs and incentives in your state. If there are programs available to consumers, look into participating. For extra credit, write your governor's office to request either an expansion of existing programs, or an inclusion of new ones.
Here in WA state, we get the option to purchase a certain amount of power from renewable sources. Utilities must give customers the opportunity to opt in 4 times yearly. Also, corporate tax for renewable energy companies has been eliminated, though this law will sunset in 2004 if not renewed. Several counties have their own reimbursement programs for solar energy, and various other forms of distributed generation.
Find out what's available near you. The sooner we can eliminate our dependence on fossil fuel, the sooner we can stop getting involved in conflicts spurred by squabbles over resources. This is the first step of a citizen-based foreign policy.posted by Natasha at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK |
CNN Headline News is now describing the post-election stock market drop as a 'second day of profit taking.' What, there were profits this year?posted by Natasha at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK |
In a small victory for the democratic wing of the Democratic party, Nancy Pelosi looks set to be the House Minority leader.posted by Natasha at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK |
In the Guardian:
China holds a national party meeting, expected to be the last meeting chaired by Jiang Zemin. Mr. Jiang made the point that he favored economic change, but not imitation of western-style political reforms. His probable successor, Hu Jintao, is considered both young and modern by party standards, though he's no softie. Last night, CBC television broadcast footage of Mr. Hu's crackdown on Tibetan monks a while ago, wasn't pretty.
EU proposes desperate measure to deal with fish crisis: a complete fishing ban in 2003.
An online pan-European war memorial website offers multiple perspectives of 20th century conflicts on the continent.
The 'anti-globalization' movement mainstream seems to be waking up to the damage caused by fringe violence. With any luck, future protests will be internally policed, with the cooler heads of peaceful organizations becoming more picky about who they march with.posted by Natasha at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK |
Just one of the stories that warms my heart when I think of all the discussions I've had with people who think privatization is the solution to all our problems. From the site of the Democracy Now radio broadcast, we get a story about private school contractor Edison, a firm whose stock price has tanked. Twenty of Philadelphia's worst schools were given to them, with now disastrous results.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has more on the financial aspects of Edison's troubles.posted by Natasha at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK |
Thursday, November 07, 2002
The Daily Show's Jon Stewart had this to say last night regarding the election on Nov. 5th:
posted by Natasha at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK |
On the Fox News ticker, it's been reported twice in half an hour that Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Martin Frost (D-TX) will compete for the position of House Minority Leader now that Gebhardt is stepping down. The ticker stated that Frost thinks in order to be effective, the Democratic party must occupy the center, not the left. Pelosi's position was undisclosed, for reasons that should be obvious from the above link.
Made me even more glad that earlier today I had called the office of my re-elected Democratic representative, who voted no on Iraq, to express both my support for Pelosi as Minority Leader and congratulations on a successful campaign.posted by Natasha at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK |
Oil and Gas International publishes the statement of the administration that President Bush has no interest in controlling Iraqi oil. I'm sure this will reassure everyone.
Rmember, regime change begins at home.posted by Natasha at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK |
I went to a seminar on web content management ages ago, and one of the speakers was talking about the role of a moderator in online discussion forums. The idea was that the more tepid you insist on keeping things, the less interested people are. Basically, sometimes 'people want to see a fight.' Not a flame war, generally, but a real debate that leaves no sacred cow untipped. The our-sided rush to embrace bipartisanship left the political climate flat and stale, nothing to see here.
Democrats have a lot of great issues, we don't need to look far, but the timidity must go. A little thunder, a little passion and boldness. We need to stop hiding the fiery ones in the closet like embarassing cousins and making nice. There are more of us than there are of them, and there's an untapped market for representation screaming out for contenders. The letter notes:
posted by Natasha at 4:48 AM | PERMALINK |
In various pro-war web venues recently, I've heard people say that if there's a proactive strategy on defense, what can citizens do to make their country safer? This is usually framed as a rhetorical question, with the presumed answer that we should leave it all to the government. Well, I think this is a little defeatist.
For short term offensive power, we can safely leave it to the government. But there are definitely strategies that could be implemented by just about anyone to help ensure a more secure future in the 2-20 year time frame. With this post, I'm sticking to things that don't require government action, approval, or even interest. Some of them save money in the short term, some save over the life of a decision, there's something for every budget. Warning: the following proposal takes extreme exception to VP Cheney's 2001 asessment of conservation as a personal value.
Most of the wars and conflicts that the US is presently involved in have something to do with the protection of our 'interests.' Interest is a pretty nebulous word, but it usually means oil and gas. While the electricity we use every day is clean at the point of use, its production often involves a disputed fuel whose supply depends on imports. Cars probably represent the single largest environmental footprint most of us make, and tremendous reduction of petroleum use would result from even a 3 mpg increase in national fuel efficiency.
Weaning ourselves off our current path of high consumption will make us far less dependent on the stability (complicity) of foreign governments, many in high conflict areas. The purchase of oil and gas often enrich governments and individuals that oppose both the stated (human rights, democracy) and unstated (safe oil supply) interests of the US. Reducing our need for future entanglement only stands to improve our image around the world, and make us a less interesting and obvious target.
The fish issue may sound out of place, but as noted here a day or so ago, the world is actually running out of fish. We might not think this is a big problem (even though Western countries eat the most fish), but it's huge in the world's poorer countries where certain classes of society rely on it for most of their protein. Our high consumption is taking a toll on deep sea fishing around the world and competing for the catches of small fishermen, or driving up prices beyond the point where it can be a staple food for the poor. For individuals concerned about the health benefits of fish, free range meat offers many of them, being both leaner and higher in Essential Fatty Acids than penned and grain-fed animals.
Organic produce (while it could be promoted for other reasons) is actually another way to help the fish situation. The pesticide runoff produced by traditional farming was declared at a governor's conference in 2001 to be responsible for a periodic 7,000+ square mile dead zone (too poisonous for fish) in the Gulf of Mexico, where much of the country's fish is caught. The fish populations of the Great Lakes and other coastal areas are seriously threatened by both overfishing and pollution, and it doesn't help that those areas must make up for this lost productivity. Fair Trade coffee purchases help ensure that your morning java isn't creating pesticide runoff in some other waterway.
Why should we care about fish? Because it probably wouldn't hurt to step down competition for prized food resources. If we destroy our own fishing, we can easily outbid the world's poor for the ever scarcer fish in their own waters. We have plenty of food from other sources, and we don't need to overfarm this commons. Hunger has been a major cause of war and failed states throughout human history, and we can easily avoid causing it in this case. All indications are that fish stocks come back pretty quickly when left to their own devices for a while (barring high pollution), so no permanent austerity is necessary.
Far from being doom and gloom, saying that a situation is problematic doesn't mean it has to stay that way. Through recognizing our issues and actively working to change our direction, we can create a different outcome. The first economist predicted that the world would shortly run out of food. It's been over 200 years, and he wasn't wrong because of his population assumptions, but because he assumed people would continue to use our resources the same way we always had.
No inconvenience or poverty has resulted directly from the resource allocation that has allowed our species to grow to over six billion members, with many left better off than the ruling classes of previous generations. Smart use of all our resources today will decrease the need for future conflict, and prevent volatile foreign 'interests' from holding our diplomatic policy hostage. A vote with your wallet can send a clear signal to the powers that be, letting them know that conservation is a politically viable platform.posted by Natasha at 3:41 AM | PERMALINK |
A recent meeting of the G-77 in India has failed to set emission targets for developing nations. The argument against doing so is probably summed up best on a sign held by a photographed demonstrator:
The responsibility for cutting greenhouse gas emissions reasonably lies with countries that produce a lot of them to begin with. But widespread adoption of renewables in the west would likely make them competitive by realizing economies of scale. If a sufficiently aggressive implementation was in place, by the time we'd have to worry about these countries' contribution to greenhouse gases, it would be cheaper for them not to produce the emissions in the first place.posted by Natasha at 2:02 AM | PERMALINK |
NZZ reports on the issue of Turkey's on again/off again relationship with the EU after a moderate Islamic party won their recent national elections. The BBC has more detail on the election outcome. Traditional rival Greece has been provididng unexpected support for Turkey's inclusion, though the most on the table at present is the setting of a date for consideration. While human rights violations in connection with the Kurdish minority are one of the largest public difficulties with Turkey's acession, considerable foreign debt and income inequality don't help matters at all.
The EU has already committed to the economic equivalent (as mentioned by The Economist) of the US agreeing to integrate with Mexico, with its recent ratification of the Nice treaty. The treaty potentially adds 12 members, as many as 10 within the next two years. Turkey's status may hinge heavily on how well this goes.posted by Natasha at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK |
The Arab News reports the statements of Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, on Iraq and global finance.posted by Natasha at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK |
Our Customs department has started an overseas inspection program, recently securing China's cooperation. The measure is called the Container Security Initiative (CSI). China, it should be noted, is responsible for approximately 20% of the foreign goods purchased in the US.
posted by Natasha at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK |
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
Spain strikes a tremendous blow for... Internet censorship!? Whacked.
CNN Headline News is on in the background. I couldn't find a story on the web site to match the tidbit I just heard, but... This 'liberal' station waited until today to mention that the Republican victory would significantly affect environmental groups, and change the playing field on issues like ANWR and logging in national forests. Thank you very much for mentioning it the day after our 'no issue' election.posted by Natasha at 6:35 PM | PERMALINK |
Speaking of religion, being on (by now) almost every progressive cause mailing list, I got a mailer from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice the other day. In the current atmosphere of this country, this might be an even better contribution bet for your political buck than Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood still funds clinics and a team of very helpful legal staff, so I think it would be ill advised to write them off the contribution list. But in terms of influencing the political process, the RCRC might hold more sway with conservative legislators than NARAL or the more actively political arm of Planned Parenthood. That isn't a qualified endorsement, though. They sound like a good organization, no matter the climate.
Reproductive rights will need all the public support they can get right now. Help pay the cost of contraception for someone who can't afford it, for educational outreach and legal assistance to under-represented segments of the population. Help pay for pressure on the government to fund critical UN programs that handle a whole range of reproductive health care to the impoverished. Show your support and be counted.posted by Natasha at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK |
The day before the election, the two minutes of the God Channel I could stand featured one of these on-the-verge-of-tears preachers exhorting his flock to go to the polls. Foreigners were asked to make November 5th a worldwide call to prayer to support American christians at the ballot box.
While contemplating the religious right's influence on our politics, check out this article on where our faith-based initiative money is going, and why it isn't being spent the way the public has been led to believe. In fact, there's very little oversight on such crucial issues as administration costs, and whether or not the actual funding goes towards secular programs.
Not content to hijack our public life, the far religious right wants to enrich themselves through our tax dollars. This is as bad for both the state of religion and the state of our democracy in this country. There are a lot of deeply religious people who don't think their personal practice should be imposed on the general public, and who are offended by the use of religion as a cash machine. We need to speak up.posted by Natasha at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK |
Alexander Cockburn says 'Enough with 'the economy'. It's your lack of conviction, stupid!'
For the record, the representative for my district, Jay Inslee (D-WA), was reelected by a comfortable margin. He voted against going to Iraq.posted by Natasha at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK |
Well, it's now official, the Republicans have made a clean sweep of all three branches of government.
The Republicans now have the position they've been insisting they deserve, and will have to deliver the utopia they've been claiming only they can provide. They will have to make the country very safe, highly prosperous, and leave no child behind. They have no opposition, no one to blame mistakes on, no one to hinder their agenda. Should be interesting.
In related news, an informal office survey was performed at a friend's Seattle-area workplace, a small high-tech company with a high proportion of professionals and college graduates, largely under the age of 35. Out of 30 people, only 5 knew that an election was even happening. Two of those people were not born in the US.
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
An actual speech from the Wellstone memorial. The 'grotesque' and 'sick' one. This eulogy was given by Wellstone's son, Mark. Just read it, and make up your own mind as to whether or not this was a fitting tribute to a politician from his family.posted by Natasha at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK |
The Christian Science Monitor posts this update on the war on terror. By which is meant, the war against actual non-state entities with a declared goal of destabilizing governments. While I would take exception to their inclusion of Chechnyan separatists, the article isn't bad for a blow-by-blow overview. It also reminds us that our allies (if not partners in our single-minded pursuit of Iraq) are in fact doing quite a bit of investigative foot work to bring these people to justice.posted by Natasha at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK |
The Guardian posted these op-ed takes on the present situation. Matthew Engel compares British and American forms of democracy. And I'll take this opportunity to put in a plug for question time in Britain. Prime Minister's Question Time airs on C-SPAN Sunday nights (when there aren't elections here), and it consists of a rigorous weekly grilling of the current head of state. Sort of like being subjected to a free-for-all debate for the whole of your career. Check it out at least a couple times, 's great fun.
George Monbiot seeks to explain Britain's slavish following of America's foreign policy. It should be noted that people have been concerned (or hopeful) that oil will run out imminently ever since humans found a use for the nasty stuff, but the study quoted by the article was put out by respected American policy groups. If our administration's current behavior is any indication, this position is being taken seriously. The article describes Britain's current energy situation as being precarious, hence the sucking up. The rest of the EU countries appear to think that they can stave off catastrophe by upping their renewables sector, and we can only hope they're right.
posted by Natasha at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK |
No War Blog posts this link to raving hippie peacenik and America-hater, General Anthony Zinni's take on war with Iraq. (For the humor deficient, there was a moderate amount of sarcasm in that last sentence.) He closes:
posted by Natasha at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK |
The New York Times provided an unexpectedly blood pressure lowering article today, about the beneficial effect of maternal grandmothers.posted by Natasha at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK |
Happy election day, btw. Go vote. Even better, take a page from the Florida Democrats who are urging people to 'Arrive with Five,' iow, bring at least five friends. Just go, go, go, go, go!posted by Natasha at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK |
The Nation posts this collection of tributes and this article in remembrance of Senator Paul Wellstone. The man from, as he said, "the democratic wing of the Democratic Party." I think Buckminster Fuller would have liked him; Wellstone believed that the solution that proves to be the most sensible, will also be the solution that benefits the greatest number of people.
I was watching Hardball tonight for a little while, and heard 'former Democratic pollster' Patrick Caddell read from this tasteless 'Peggy Noonan channels Wellstone from Heaven' op-ed regarding the memorial service (Noonan was sitting next to him at the table). He referred to the service as 'grotesque', to which there was much head nodding from Noonan and Howard Fineman.
They talked about how Mondale lost a point in the debate by admitting to being a tax and spend Democrat. Not even Donna Brazile, on the satellite screen, tried to defend that. Any of the four theoretical liberals (two media guys, one former Dem pollster, and a current Dem campaign organizer) in the studio could have handily responded to this with Mondale's own words, or mentioned that Reagan himself raised taxes anyway:
They showed a little clip of Clinton in a rally in Harlem saying (loosely) "The media talks about things in this order: Politics, Personalities, Policies. After the election, the things that matter are: Policies, Personalities, Politics". He bet the crowd $100 that coverage of the event he was at would mostly concern who was there, and not what was said.
Then, surreally, Norah O'Donnell came on for a brief little black hole of hope to declare that there were no national issues in this election. The talking heads did roundly thump the Democrats for not talking about issues, but they did so without talking seriously about any issues, though lip service was paid to the corporate-crime-environment mantra by Caddell. It's really too bad, Norah and Patrick, that no issues have been discussed. Maybe the news agencies could have suspended the sniper-Iraq-refugee-Moscow babble for a few minutes, and we could have had some.
I couldn't stand it any more, I just felt dashed. This is my 'liberal' media. I'll say it again as I have before, I'm a liberal, and I have no idea who these people are. I don't care if they are registered Democrats. They don't talk about the stories I'm interested in, they don't answer my questions, they rarely interact with citizen activists who represent actual progressive movements. And the 'Democratic' politicians barely stand for anything, they almost deserve to lose. (Except my local representative who listened to the avalanche of our phone calls and voted no on Iraq.) They won't fight for us, the people who vote for them faithfully because we loathe the Republicans more than our own sell-outs.
I want some representation. The Left needs a Barry Goldwater for us, as someone was hoping Wellstone would have been. Someone who realizes that, holy cow man, there are votes for us on .... the LEFT!posted by Natasha at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK |
Monday, November 04, 2002
This link on the dead (since Bush secured the Republican nomination in 2000) 'Funeralgate' story is a must for anyone who has begun to question what exactly the words "honor" and "dignity" mean when coming out of the mouth of our current pResident. The piece goes on to document several cases of media malfeasance and seeming collusion.posted by Natasha at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK |
While my absentee ballot is sitting relatively safe in a federal mailbox waiting for its pick-up this afternoon, some people are being actively discouraged from voting by parties unknown, as this Baltimore story makes clear:
The flier was distributed in mostly black neighborhoods, and fits with Republican tactics during the 2000 election of telling black voters that they needed to pay up any outstanding fines or have extra forms of ID in order to vote. They have denied it, of course. In Broward county Florida, some individuals may be excluded from voting by time constraints.posted by Natasha at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK |
The BBC examines the looming fish crisis, with additional links to related stories at the upper right. For many in the developing world, fish is what's for dinner. But they're competing more and more with the consumption habits of the developed world, which is rapidly depleting its own fish stocks. I feel better every day about mostly eating organic land critters.posted by Natasha at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK |
Sunday, November 03, 2002
The Nation posts this analysis of energy subsidies and asks whether or not it would be better invested in solar power. As the world spends 210 billion dollars every year subsidising polluting technologies, this should not only make us question the 'free market' credentials of our leaders, but seriously reconsider our priorities. No longer having to rely on unstable regions of the world for our energy would be sort of a door prize.posted by Natasha at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK |
Our daily political eagle eye over at Eschaton has posted a link to Lunch in reference to the Saturday, November 1st (no permalinks) post. It discusses reactions to the death of Senator Wellstone, and comments on the nature of the paranoia springing up in the wake of that event.
Also, we are brought a link to this Jon Stewart interview with CNN's Howard Kurtz. You must read it if you like the Daily show, but this had to be the best bit:
posted by Natasha at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK |
The Saudi government says it will not be party to an invasion, stating for the record that while they will not oppose any UN sanctioned action, neither it's military bases nor airspace may be used to attack Iraq. That government is reportedly insistent that a political solution be tried, and that the Iraqis be given a chance to fulfill their promise to allow weapons inspections to proceed.
But since, as we all know, money makes the world go round... This article regarding new avenues for Gulf investors to move into the European property market, now that they appear to be shying away from the US stock market, may prove over time to be the more influential story. Saudi investors have been pulling out of the US ever since sweeping allegations of collusion with the 9/11 terrorists and massive asset seizures have made many of them nervous. While Arab funds do represent a powerful force in US markets, the British continue to be the largest investors in US exchanges and have so far stayed put.posted by Natasha at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK |