the watch
bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.

Evict Bush!

Saturday, December 07, 2002  

Old South Gone With the Wind.

posted by Natasha at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK |

Jobless rate at 8 year low of 6%. This number is probably even a little optimistic. Not everyone whose unemployment benefits have run out has found a new job, and many of those available won't be as good as the old one. Some bloody magazine in early 2001 ran a cover of a guy sitting at a desk looking miserable, it was titled "The Return of the Crappy Job." Prescient, or what?

posted by Natasha at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK |

Apparently evangelicals have an image problem. In a survey asking Americans their feeling about different groups, evangelical christians were barely beat to last place by ladies of the evening. They're apparently much less popular than gays, but you can see why. I mean, who's more fun at lunch, really?

...Affirming results from other studies, the Barna survey also found the more highly educated non-evangelicals are, the less likely they are to have a positive view of fundamentalist Christians.

posted by Natasha at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK |

A very hefty report from Iraq purports that no WMDs will be found in their country. The report wasn't due until Sunday, we'll see what happens next. I'm just waiting for Cheney to crack at a press conference and shout out that he knows 'the bugger has something, cause I sold it to him at Halliburton.'

Escalating deployments watchers expect the official war to begin in January, if war is actually declared. I was going to say that the bombs would probably start dropping in January, but then I realized that of course bombs have been dropping there for over a decade. It's hard to say if the Iraqis currently living in the no-fly zones would know the difference for a while.

posted by Natasha at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK |

Buzzflash commentary notes that this isn't the America we thought it was just a short time ago.

These days, it's hard to read anything without thinking, "this can't be true." We're living in an age of secret bunker governments and stealth legislation, however, and unlikely scenarios are tempered with the realization our old reality is gone. This America differs drastically from the country we knew two years ago, when tales of felons ogling our e-mail would have been capped with a punch line. Yet here we are, scratching our heads, while guardians of the public trust shill for the state. When Chris Matthews responds to Christopher Hitchens' charges against Henry Kissinger by braying about how "our very free notion of the first amendment," allows Hitchens to say "anything he wants about somebody," (as if Hitchens were making things up), our airways are either populated by the misinformed or by those paid to propagandize. ...

posted by Natasha at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK |

Bill Moyers fact checks O'Reilly. Fortunately, the good gentleman was only refuting slander against himself. Fact checking the sum of O'Reilly's work would surely take longer than the renowned interview series with Joseph Campbell, "The Power of Myth."

posted by Natasha at 8:01 AM | PERMALINK |

Tariq Ali muses on the history of the Nobel Peace Prize, and on why giving it to Jimmy Carter is only slightly less ironic than giving it to Henry Kissinger, if at all. Truly, an impressive list of carnage and political malfeasance.

The commendation honouring Carter should read as follows:

· For ordering the CIA to organise the killers running the death squads in Argentina to train Nicaraguan Contras in Honduras and hurl them into battle against the Sandinista government.

· For dispatching millions in aid and riot equipment to the Salvadorian military and sending US personnel to train Salvadorian officers in Panama.

· For sending special envoy Richard Holbrooke to South Korea, where workers and students were demanding democracy. Holbrooke gave US backing to the South Korean military and insisted that they crush the rebellion. Some 3,000 South Koreans were killed in March 1980.

· For authorising the covert CIA operation in Afghanistan that led to the creation of the mojahedin and giving the green light for Saudi religious, ideological and financial intervention, begun under the leadership of Osama bin Laden.

· For re-arming Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge in Thailand after they were defeated by the Vietnamese.

· For leading a campaign in favour of the release of Lieutenant William Calley, found guilty of mass murder in the My Lai massacre in South Vietnam.

· For support and weaponry supplied to the Indonesian military dictatorship after the brutal occupation of East Timor.

· For encouraging the rise of the Christian right.

· For accepting financial help from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International while this outfit calmly cheated its depositors.

For all these reasons, the Nobel committee is delighted to award the peace prize for 2002 to former US president Jimmy Carter.

posted by Natasha at 5:53 AM | PERMALINK |

The TAP review of the Gores' new books.

posted by Natasha at 5:44 AM | PERMALINK |

Friday, December 06, 2002  

When contemplating whether capital punishment is just, we can all think of people who almost certainly deserve to die for what they've done. But instead of thinking of Dahmer, Kissinger, or Manson, think about the dozens of people who've been taken off death row because DNA evidence cleared their name beyond the shadow of a doubt. And most recently, the five young men sent to prison for the attack on the Central Park jogger, were completely exonerated following the confession of a man in jail for another rape and murder, whose DNA matched that found on the victim.

Project Innocence has dedicated itself to retracing DNA from evidence files to determine whether or not a conviction punished the right person. They've released 116 people to date, by proving that they could not have committed the crimes they were sentenced for. A fallibility rate like that should indicate that we, as a society, don't know enough to be deciding who lives and dies.

posted by Natasha at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK |

Thanks to the Agonist, we found this blog by someone who appears to be an actual Iraqi living in Iraq, called Where is Raed. To quote the latest post:

Deoxy wrote a fine suggestionin the comments link below:

“Now SHUT THE F--- UP and learn to appreciate us a little!!!”

OK, let us all have 5 minutes of silence to do some appreciation.
I appreciate the dropping of tons of bombs on my country.
I appreciate the depleted uranium used in these bombs.
I appreciate the whole policy of dual containment which kept the region constantly on the boil because it was convenient for the US.
I appreciate the support the US government shows to all the oppressive governments in the region only to dump them after they have done what was needed of them.
I appreciate the US role in the sanctions committee.
I appreciate its effort in making me look for surgical gloves and anesthetic in the black market just to get a tooth pulled out, because these supplies are always being vetoed by the sanctions committee.
I appreciate the policies of a country which has spent a lot of time and effort to sustain economic sanctions that punished the Iraqi people while it had no effect on Saddam and his power base, turning us into hostages in a political deadlock between the Iraqi government and the US government.
I appreciate the role these sanctions had in making a country full of riches so poor.
I appreciate watching my professors having to sell their whole personal libraries to survive, and seeing their books being bought by UN staff who take home as souvenirs.
I have so much appreciation it is flowing out of my ears.

Back to Deoxy:

“FuCk us, huh? OK, rot under Hussein's rule - we don't have to help you. You are angry as though we OWE it to you - we don't. Be glad we help at all, EVER”.

Honey-bunny no one asked you to friggin’ come here. And no one asked for your help. It is your government that has been poking its nose in the region’s affairs. Why is it always forgotten that the US government supported the Islamic extremists during the cold war era as a way to keep Soviet influence at bay. Well I guess it backfired now, didn’t it? Just as the US support to Iraq has backfired.

“In his affidavit, Teicher writes that ‘CIA Director [William] Casey personally spearheaded the effort to ensure that Iraq had sufficient military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to avoid losing the Iran–Iraq war.’ The United States supplied ‘the Iraqis with billions of dollars of credits,’ claims Teicher, and offered ‘military intelligence and advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to Iraq made sure that Iraq had the military weaponry required.’”

And guess who Reagan sent in 1983 as an emissary to give Saddam all sorts of military advice: Donald Rumsfeld. What I want to say is don’t stick your thingy in places where it doesn’t belong. It will get hurt. And I am definitely not asking for your help, your so called help has already done too much damage so keep out of my back yard PLEASE!

We give the stand to lanny now:

“If all your people got gut and stand up who could fuck you up, eh?”

Excuse me there but who do you think is getting broken bottles shoved up their ass? and who is getting his balls electrocuted? Don’t you ever call me a whiner. You don’t know what its like to have a member of your family taken away from you because he is suspected of anti-governmental activities, this suspicion being based on a couple of foreign friends he has. You don’t know what your life looks like after a family member has been executed because he spoke to the wrong people and expressed an honest opinion. If I may quote DEOXY here “SHUT THE F--- UP and learn to appreciate us a little!!!”. You stay where you are and let me deal with my shit.

About mike’s question:

“So, what would you do? Come on folks. Instapundit has brought us all here. Lots of people are reading. This is your chance to show everyone just how stupid George Bush is. Let’s hear your ideas that make his look so lame in comparison.”

I do believe that you are smart enough to know there is no answer to that question. And as lynn has said in her comment, We can't go back in time and undo what has already been done. What is coming is inevitable. Everybody seems so entrenched in their positions. Besides, the regime change plan has nothing to do with 9/11 and al-Qaida or the war on Terrorism. These events only brought everything to a head, or maybe even delayed that policy because the US had to deal with Afghanistan first. I quote from an open letter written on the 19th of February 1998 to William J. Clinton from the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf:

“[….] Only a determined program to change the regime in Baghdad will bring the Iraqi crisis to a satisfactory conclusion. For years, the United States has tried to remove Saddam by encouraging coups and internal conspiracies. These attempts have all failed. Saddam is more wily, brutal and conspiratorial than any likely conspiracy the United States might mobilize against him. Saddam must be overpowered; he will not be brought down by a coup d'etat. But Saddam has an Achilles' heel: lacking popular support, he rules by terror. The same brutality which makes it unlikely that any coups or conspiracies can succeed, makes him hated by his own people and the rank and file of his military. Iraq today is ripe for a broad-based insurrection. We must exploit this opportunity.”

And you might also like to take a look at the people who have signed that open letter among them you will find Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (the same Rumsfeld who in 83 went to Baghdad to tell saddam that the US will give saddam’s use of chemical weapons in the war against Iran the blind eye), Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

The US moves in mysterious ways. So don’t expect any answers to your question.

Today is the last day of Ramadan. And tomorrow is Eid al-Fitr, so happy Eid to all of you. And may peace be upon us all. ...

Update 12/9: As Body and Soul points out, the Where is Raed blog has been taken down, and its archives deleted. Glad I copied the post over in its entirety.

posted by Natasha at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK |

Mark Morford is delighted with Kissinger's appointment, because what we really need now is more murderous criminal masterminds in power. He closes thusly:

...It has been recently revealed in a national poll that most Americans don't really like Republican policies on war and gays and health care and the economy. But they like Democrats as individuals even less, which is understandable, given all the spinelessness and pathos on that side of the aisle.

But then you look a little more closely and you see Strom and Dick and Jesse and Rummy, DeLay and Ridge and Kissinger and Poindexter, and realize, oh my God, look at these people, these bitter hawks, why are we so duped by them and how is it that they've kept us so scared, and do we really want to believe a group of angry old white men who apparently never go outside or have sex or who have finally quit sniffing all that ether?

You realize, finally, that this can't be all there is, that it can't all be convicted criminals and mass murderers and corrupt CEOs leading the American government into a giant dank cave of ignorance and bile and rogue-nation status, not really, and you look around for the alternative voices.

You look for the leaders of the counterforces, the voices of reason, the peacekeepers and powerful objectors and proponents of the new revolution. And you look, and you keep looking ... and looking ... and looking ...

posted by Natasha at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK |

Naomi Klein: Democracy Is Not a Hamburger. No matter what Trent Lott says.

posted by Natasha at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK |

The The Global Accounting Scam, why the GDP is bad for us.

...Imagine an accountant who can add but can't subtract, and who is so nearsighted he can't see past his nose. That is the mentality behind the GDP. The GDP simply adds up the money Americans spend and calls the result growth and good, regardless of where the money went and why.

By this reckoning, the more medical bills you incur, the more junk food your kids yammer for, the more you sit in traffic and the more your credit card company rips you off with hidden charges, the better the economy is doing and the more the politicians can brag about the nation's "growth." ...

posted by Natasha at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK |

An interesting discussion of Islamic attitudes towards women and sex, which makes distinctions between cultural and religiously mandated practices. A complex picture of a faith which encompasses over a billion people.

posted by Natasha at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK |

Robert Kuttner wonders why more people aren't outraged about disparities in pre-school child care that favor the wealthy. With shifting budget priorites, the youngest children are getting cut out of good care, even as their parents have less and less time to spend at home.

posted by Natasha at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK |

Mandela hopeful that growing awareness of safe sex practices will slow the spread of AIDs.

To anyone inclined to be snide about this, I'd remind them that upper class Europeans around the time of the French Revolution were dying left and right due to syphilis. And various STDs which have mellowed in their effects over the years are rampant in the US today, it's just that we can treat them better now. No people on the planet has a monopoly on licentious behavior, even though we all seem to believe fiercely in our unique virtue. Yeah, and we're all good drivers, too. Sure we are.

posted by Natasha at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK |

Ten thousand take to the streets in Turkey to protest their country's involvement in an Iraqi war. The country has been asked to contribute 40,000 troops to the effort, which would be handy because then we have cannon fodder whose body bags won't be coming home to America.

The Turkish people, according to a Democracy Now broadcast, feel that their country can't afford a war and haven't fully recovered from trade losses suffered in the last one. Turkey's government wants a specific UN declaration of war before participating in any military operations in the country.

posted by Natasha at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK |

Ariel Sharon generously offers Palestinians their own state, on less than half the land they currently have, barring security zones, and providing that they choose a leader to Sharon's liking. Will this, too, be remembered as a tremendous olive branch that the ungrateful Palestinians slapped the kind Israelis with? Probably.

As a follow up to the recent wave of targeted Israeli attacks (formerly known as extrajudicial killings, and before that, as assasinations) on Palestinian militants, their families, PA police forces, 95 yr old women coming home from the doctor's, and anyone standing too close to the places where these targets allegedly are, nine are dead in the bombing of a two story building. Four of the dead were from the same family. The building was the suspected former residence of a recent suicide bomber.

Israel has begun to claim that Al-Qaida members have recently entered Gaza. I guess that's alright then, it was only a matter of time. Next thing you know, we'll have Al-Qaida members mysteriously working in Latin American countries who've been getting uppity enough to elect populists.

posted by Natasha at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK |

Thursday, December 05, 2002  

ZenFlea posts an anthem for the coming war, sung to the tune of 'If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.' Very catchy, worth a dozen articles:

If we cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.
If the markets hurt your Mama, bomb Iraq.
If the terrorists are Saudi
And the bank takes back your Audi
And the TV shows are bawdy,
Bomb Iraq.

If the corporate scandals growin', bomb Iraq.
And your ties to them are showin', bomb Iraq.
If the smoking gun ain't smokin'
We don't care, and we're not jokin'.
That Saddam will soon be croakin',
Bomb Iraq.

Even if we have no allies, bomb Iraq.
From the sand dunes to the valleys, bomb Iraq.
So to hell with the inspections;
Let's look tough for the elections,
Close your mind and take directions,
Bomb Iraq.

While the globe is slowly warming, bomb Iraq.
Yay! the clouds of war are storming, bomb Iraq.
If the ozone hole is growing,
Some things we prefer not knowing.
(Though our ignorance is showing),
Bomb Iraq.

So here's one for dear old daddy, bomb Iraq,
From his favorite little laddy, bomb Iraq.
Saying no would look like treason.
It's the Hussein hunting season.
Even if we have no reason,
Bomb Iraq.

Update: It comes to our attention that this song was originally posted in its completed form on TAPPED.

posted by Natasha at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK |

CalPundit has found a fun game for all of us to play, what would you cut out of the US budget. The easy version is 'cut whatever you want.' The hard version is 'cut only what affects you.'

posted by Natasha at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK |

Thomas Freidman thinks that the saga of Hashem Aghajari is the most important story in the world right now. He could be right. Aghajari was sentenced to death by Iran's conservative judiciary for making a speech questioning the right of the clerics to run the government and be the sole interpreters of the Koran. In part:

...Mr. Aghajari's speech was delivered on the 25th anniversary of the death of Ali Shariati, one of the Iranian revolution's most progressive thinkers. In the speech — translated by the invaluable MEMRI service — he often cited Mr. Shariati as his inspiration. He began by noting that just as "the Protestant movement wanted to rescue Christianity from the clergy and the church hierarchy," so Muslims must do something similar today. The Muslim clergymen who have come to dominate their faith, he said, were never meant to have a monopoly on religious thinking or be allowed to ban any new interpretations in light of modernity. ...

For more detail, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) further analyzes Aghajari's statements, and reproduces them in detail below. This segment was interesting, but the whole thing was food for thought:

...In many non-Islamic countries, they at least recognize these principles in dealing with their own people. Maybe when it comes to other people, they oppress them - [like] what Bush is doing, and most Western nations, if they had the power. Human rights have become so vital in some foreign countries that some of our own clergy, whom I see going for two or three weeks of medical treatment, become enchanted with how the authorities of those countries act towards their own people. About 150 years ago, [a Muslim cleric] went to Europe; when he came back, he said, 'I saw no Muslims in Europe, but I saw Islam' [i.e. he saw righteousness]. In our time, we see Muslims, but we don't see Islam (audience applause)." ...

This article notes that President Khatami has publicly denounced the slowness with which the judiciary has acted to review the matter. Aghajari's lawyers have filed an appeal on their own initiative, Mr. Aghajari had said that the entire affair was a farce and that he would not appeal.

Pointed out by our friendly neighborhood Easter Lemming.

posted by Natasha at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK |

Steve Perry believes that all good liberals should abandon the Democrats like rats from a sinking ship. He makes a good case, and I'd agree, except I'm not helping any more Republicans get into the White House. Local races, now, there is an active Green party in my area...

posted by Natasha at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK |

More on the No Child Left Behind Act's little known provision that military recruiters must be given access to high school student contact information. While parents can choose to opt out, some people are concerned about the possible implications. If the schools choose not to comply, well, why would they choose not to comply?

... Under the new law, schools can no longer refuse such requests from the military unless they want to lose federal funding that ranges from tens of millions of dollars yearly for the Milwaukee Public Schools to several hundred thousand dollars for smaller districts. ...

posted by Natasha at 12:24 AM | PERMALINK |

Wednesday, December 04, 2002  

Does Europe 'Get It?'

Thanks to Not Invented Here, we get this Regions of Mind post discussing the growing gulf between Europeans and Americans based on this article titled They Still Don't Get It. In part:

The main thing to take from Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's success in playing the Iraq card in September's German election is that the Germans, and most Europeans, still don't get the post-9/11 world. They did not experience the transformative moment that so profoundly changed America. And, absent an attack on their own soil, they're not likely to share America's fundamentally altered notion of national security any time soon. ...

It goes on and on like that. The author was profoundly distressed that Germans seem to think that the Dresden firebombing trumps all arguments, even though the person he spoke to was born after the event. Well you know what? The closest we've come to war in America before 9-11 was Pearl Harbor, which we continue to prattle on about as a defining moment in American history.

I mean, no one complains about Americans who stir up the people talking about the firebombing of Los Angeles, which killed millions and took years to rebuild from. No one complains about people who still go on about lessons from the Mexican invasion of Texas in '44, or the tours of the burned out remnants of Old Dallas... Oh yeah, that's right, the US hasn't suffered a serious invasion in well over a century. We haven't seen entire cities laid waste, had to bury millions of people, or come up from a crushing burden of debt and reparations. We haven't had to face war crimes trials showing us that even our own fellow citizens have darkness in their hearts. We don't have the surviving descendants of our leaders' past perfidy winning multi-billion dollar lawsuits against our embattled industrial sector.

Further, the implication by some that they're looking forward to Europe getting a major terrorist hit so they come around just sounds creepy. No better than the snide Israeli 'sympathy' after 9-11 itself, when no one seemed to think it was at all perverse for them to say that they were glad we'd know what it felt like. What could be more morally repugnant than hoping that people die in order to instill fear and panic in a populace such that any available target will be struck back at blindly, and a ready excuse created for any war that anyone wants to wage? Is it much better to hope for terrorism than to commit it?

And Germany, to keep picking on them, has been as helpful in the actual war on terror as any ally could possibly ask. But it's a little rich of us to tell them that they don't know anything about the consequences of violence. Maybe we should examine another possibility: That some of our European allies have begun to believe that all-out war isn't the best solution to every problem.

Does It Matter Who Fixes The Problem?

Later in the article, the author says this:

...One way to know that Germans still don't get 9/11 is that they often couch their opposition to firm action in Iraq in terms that are more anti-Bush than anti-American. During a long string of conversations in Berlin at election time, my interlocutors always veered quickly from Iraq into a string of Bush administration decisions that they hate: rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, U.S. withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, last year's new steel tariffs. ...

But what does any of this have to do with going to war against Saddam Hussein? The answer is nothing. Yet the Germans seem unable to distinguish between objectionable environmental and trade policies and desirable security policies. They bundle them all together, and seem to give them equal weight. ...

No decision to take action can be made properly without an assessment of the motives and trustworthiness of the actors. There are as many ways to wage a war as there are to build a house, maybe more. And there's a wide range of possibilities for the aftermath of any given conflict. So given a stated goal, a regime change in Iraq that will make the world safer, people have every right to ask whether or not the record of the party proposing the solution indicates they can credibly accomplish it.

There's virtually no doubt that we can topple Hussein, but that isn't the tricky part. It's that second bit, the part afterwards, that has people concerned. There are a large number of calculations to be made as to whether this war will in fact leave the world safer, or whether it will make it more dangerous. Can a war in populated areas, a war of occupation, be waged with minimum civilian casualties? Can the US bring together enough different nations on a diplomatic level to engage in the crucial rebuilding? Will we commit to rebuilding, and stick with it until the end, or will we leave an even more shattered country behind us? Will we be able to use the occasion as a time of improving regional ties and cooperation such that the entire region will be more stable and less threatening?

These are questions on which the administration has done very little to reassure people. The Germans in particular, should know how dangerous it is to leave a defeated nation penniless, hungry, friendless, and desparate. The record to date in Afghanistan encourages no one.

This Just In: I Have Unilaterally Decided Not To Punch You In The Face.

And above that post, there's this Richard Perle criticism of the multilateralist stance, as drawn from a Front Page transcript. This part really caught my eye:

When we talk about unilateralism, let's remember German unilateralism. How else should one interpret Chancellor Schroeder's position that not only would Germany not participate, but even if the United Nations conducted an operation against Iraq, Germany wouldn't participate in that? Is that not unilateralism? What about French unilateralism?

There's plenty of unilateralism in the world. No one much likes it and it's a tragedy if the United States, in defending itself and in defending the common values of all of us, is driven to acting alone, or nearly alone.

This is a pollution of the debate over the morality of international actions by attempting to make the term 'unilateral' meaningless. And here's why: Is it unilateral of me to decide not to punch you in the nose? Why not? What if my buddy hates you and told me to go punch you in the nose? Why not then? It's no more 'unilateral' a decision than the US deciding not to invade Mexico. The term simply has no meaning in such a context.

These terms specifically apply to actions that affect other nations whom our government was not elected to represent, particularly those cases where the benefit/loss calculations are hard to determine. Killing people has to be the most disputed method of solving problems, with highly questionable benefits. And when Perle says that the US, "in defending itself and in defending the common values of all of us, is driven to acting alone, or nearly alone," he's saying that taking actions that affect others should be viewed as some kind of meta-multilateralism because it really reflects the values of everyone involved. But if this were genuinely true, wouldn't the supposed beneficiaries agree with us?

The provision of things that everyone really wants and values is never spoken of in this way. No one refers to Doctors Without Borders' 'unilateral' provision of medical care to war zone victims. No one complains about the UN aid workers providing 'unilateral' food aid to the starving. The results of caring for the sick and feeding the hungry are universally accepted as Good Things, and there is seldom any reason to argue about whether so-and-so should get to provide these benefits.

Let's look this straight in the eye as a nation and admit that a pre-emptive war (formerly known as an unprovoked invasion) is about as questionable an endeavor as a country can get involved in. Our allies shouldn't become enemies overnight for pointing this out.

posted by Natasha at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK |

A search serendipitously turned up a Jon Stewart interview held just after Bush's first 100 days. Enjoy.

... I'm excited about it. I think what he realized is, over these last eight years of peace and prosperity, we've learned one major thing as a country, and that is we need an enemy, and he is just going through the Rolodex right now. "Let me throw some bombs at Iraq. What's Russia doing? Send their spies back. Nothing? What about China? Let's kick their ass. Hey, can I ask you guys a question? Poland still a country? Can we go after them?"...

You know, all I hear about is what a good guy he is. You know, that's the reputation: good guy, not so bright. Here's what I think: Very bright, mean as hell. My opinion is that he is not a patsy in any way. He is not a prop. He is not a puppet. He is in charge. He is large and in charge. And while he had the book of malapropisms open, underneath was a book called, "The Prince," by Machiavelli, and that's what he was really reading. ...

And watch The Daily Show, or get someone to tape it for you. I mean it.

posted by Natasha at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK |

A worldwide poll indicates deep suspicion of US motives in Iraq, though there is broad support for the war on terror.

...The poll also found broad support outside the Muslim world for American-led efforts to combat terrorism but an "an equally strong global consensus that the United States disregards the views of others in carrying out its foreign policy," wrote Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, who headed the Global Attitudes Project. ...

There is even sharp disagreement among these key U.S. allies whether Iraq or the Middle East poses the greater domestic danger. In no country except the United States was Hussein's continued rule seen by a majority as "the greater international threat to our country."

This uneasiness over Iraq arises, in large part, from deep suspicions of U.S. motives for using military force to remove Hussein, the survey found.

When asked whether the United States was more interested in achieving stability in the region or more interested in controlling Iraqi oil reserves, majorities in Russia (76 percent), France (75 percent), and Germany (54 percent) said "the U.S. wants to control Iraqi oil." In Great Britain, the public was evenly divided on the question. ...

It appears that while US culture and citizens are viewed favorably, US government policies are not. Citizens around the world expressed general dissatisfaction with the way things were going, both in their own countries and the world at large. Lots of interesting information, best to read it all.

posted by Natasha at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK |

In the BBC:

Chinese and European scientists collaborate on space mission.

Exciting molecular computing breakthrough hints at exciting data storage capacities in the future.

Large oil find in Kazakhstan may threaten the Caspian sea due to seismic instability in the region.

Iran's young economy struggles to grow fast enough for the three-quarters of the population under 30.

Indonesia arrests militant involved with the Bali bombing group.

Rioting in East Timor seems to have stoppped, but officials are on alert.

UN workers feel threatened by Israeli military.

A suspected Palestinian militant was killed in an Israeli missile strike on a building owned by the PA.

Militants clash in northern Iraq.

Rebel group in Burundi refuses cease-fire. The country has been at war for 9 years.

UN troops to bolster peacekeeping efforts in DR Congo.

Missiles on sale in Kabul.

India to begin producing natural gas from a Vietnam field.

Researchers demonstrate that Marijuana is not a 'gateway drug', and its availability has no effect on hard drug use.

posted by Natasha at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK |

The Onion informs us that Presidents Washinton Through Bush May Have Lied About Key Matters. The article states, "While conventional wisdom holds that only two U.S. presidents, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, have ever openly lied about anything, the report offers substantial evidence linking all 42 presidents to deliberate acts of deception and dishonesty." Also included are photographs of 4 of the 137 known presidential mistresses.

posted by Natasha at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK |

Tuesday, December 03, 2002  

As the country reels from the SHOCKING revelation that John Kerry gets expensive haircuts, No More Mr. Nice Blog tops that by sharing that George W. Bush buys expensive cowboy boots. Good thing he's not running as a ... populist? Erm...

posted by Natasha at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK |

The Daily Howler dissects the widespread lie that Gore lied about his congressional involvement in the Internet. The remark, at the time it was made, was unremarkable because it was widely held at the time to be true. As a senator, Gore had put in more work than any of his peers (though it was apparently a horse race with Gingrich) to understand the issue and convince the government to fund its development. It's worth reading all the way through, but this part was particularly clear:

Al Gore, 3/9/99: During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.

Newt Gingrich, 9/1/00: Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet.

David Maraniss, 8/26/00: Gore really was instrumental in developing the Internet. He was the one congressman who understood the whole thing in the ’70s.

Two of these men remained major pundits. One of these men stood condemned as a liar. But so it went throughout Campaign 2000 as the press corps conducted its War Against Gore. So it went as a deeply dysfunctional press corps made a joke of your White House election. ...

Of course, the thing that happened sometime later was that the RNC got hold of this statement and turned it into the lie of the century. Which was, naturally, repeated at every other mention of Gore's name in the popular press. The 'liberal' media.

To recap, they created a credibility issue out of hard work and forward thinking, while making credibility a non-issue for a drunk-driving failed businessman who deserted a National Guard post over refusing a drug test. My head, it's definitely spinning.

posted by Natasha at 11:44 PM | PERMALINK |

Jesse at Pandagon adds a new measure of online discussions: "...I want to introduce a post-9/11 corollary to Godwin's Law: Any discussion of support of the War on Terra will eventually mention Noam Chomsky's purported "anti-Americanism". ..."

posted by Natasha at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK |

Alas, A Blog posts a very funny song about sodomy, sung to the tune of 'Yesterday.' I bet some of you didn't know just how funny sodomy could be ;)

posted by Natasha at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK |

Jonathon Steele examines Gerhard Schroeder's position on German involvement in war in the Guardian. It begins:

Pity Germany. Usually caricatured as a country with militarist instincts, for the last few months it has been in the dock on a different charge. The Bush administration accuses it of pacifism.

Ever since its chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, announced during his re-election campaign in August that he would not take part in any "adventure" in Iraq, Washington's propaganda machine has been in high gear. Spinners put out the word that its irresponsibility may have lost Germany any chance of getting a permanent seat on the UN security council. Schröder's government was cold-shouldered by senior US officials. ...

Compare to this MSNBC article by Michael Moran in September, "The Germany that can say 'no'." It's actually an interesting piece, even though it begins on the ludicrous premise that Germans are 'genetically autocratic,' only to note later that Hitler had cursed them in high Napoleonic fashion as a 'nation of shopkeepers.' I suppose that the French were congenitally autocratic for a generation, too. It opens:

After more than four decades of teaching the genetically autocratic German nation about the joys of democracy (1945-89), followed by another decade spent goading the united Germany into being more “assertive” on the world stage, the United States stands face-to-face today with its greatest achievement and worst nightmare: a peaceful, democratic Germany that won’t be guilt-tripped, cowed or led by the nose onto a battlefield. How ever did this happen?...

posted by Natasha at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK |

Sometimes when I'm at the grocery store checkout line, I make the mistake of looking at the tabloids and reading the titles. Yesterday the cover of Woman's World - The Woman's Weekly, whose tagline reads 'God Bless America', had a bold story subtitle that I couldn't resist for all its kitchsy glory.

The miracle pill that lets you




Turning to the inside, I was disappointed to discover that the touted remedy is a white kidney bean extract called Phase 2. Even more of a letdown, that it works best with a moderate, balanced diet. There are so many things I'd like to say about that, but I wonder if they wouldn't just detract?

posted by Natasha at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK |

Monday, December 02, 2002  

The UN reports that investment in women's health care and family planning provided a significant economic bonus to developing nations. One of the major benefits is decreased infant mortality, creating a situation more like the developed world, where women no longer need to have extra children to ensure that at least a couple will survive to adulthood.

posted by Natasha at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK |

Of course, it's already presidential candidate season, even though the elections are about 2 years away. How is it that people with parliamentary systems manage to announce an election abruptly, coordinate their parties, and have that election within a couple months? Anyway, John Kerry has pretty much come out and admitted that he's running, so here's the full transcript of his Meet the Press interview. You can read the Liberal Oasis commentary here.

posted by Natasha at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK |

Courtesy of Easter Lemming, we get this report by Citizens for Tax Justice on where the tax cuts are going, and especially where they will go if the final year of allocation is made permanent.

Year-by-Year Analysis of the Bush Tax Cuts Shows Growing Tilt to the Very Rich

Over the ten-year period, the richest Americans—the best-off one percent—are slated to receive tax cuts totaling almost half a trillion dollars. The $477 billion in tax breaks the Bush administration has targeted to this elite group will average $342,000 each over the decade.

By 2010, when (and if) the Bush tax reductions are fully in place, an astonishing 52 percent of the total tax cuts will go to the richest one percent—whose average 2010 income will be $1.5 million. Their tax-cut windfall in that year alone will average $85,000 each. Put another way, of the estimated $234 billion in tax cuts scheduled for the year 2010, $121 billion will go just 1.4 million taxpayers.

Although the rich have already received a hefty down payment on their Bush tax cuts—averaging just under $12,000 each this year—80 percent of their windfall is scheduled to come from tax changes that won’t take effect until after this year, mostly from items that phase in after 2005. ...

For the four out of five families and individuals making less than $73,000 this year, three-quarters of the tax cuts—averaging about $350 this year—are already in place.

Tax cuts for the 19 percent of taxpayers making between $73,000 and $356,000 this year will grow a little over the next four years as the cuts in the upper tax rates continue to kick in, but then will dwindle thereafter. By 2010, the tax cuts for this group will be no bigger as a share of income than they are now. ...

There's more in the report, plus graphs and charts if you like that sort of thing.

posted by Natasha at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK |

Sunday, December 01, 2002  

Nathan Newman finds a post explaining that Nancy Pelosi is a Communist because she belongs to a caucus that's approved of by an organization that many years ago had the founders of communism in its ranks, but now includes all of the center-left heads of state in Europe. (Our allies, who are mysteriously unsavory in every way, except when we need their approval or partial adventure funding.) Oh, and btw, this makes her an apologist for Stalin by association.

Leaving aside for the moment that it would be way easier to tie many prominent Republicans to 'unreconstructed' fascism, where do these people come from? Let's take this to its implied conclusion, to dispel any hint of sanity that might cling to the argument.

Do they imagine that a congresswoman from one of the most entrepreneurial and financially successful states in the country is going to come out in favor of adopting an across the board command economy, confiscate all the property and everything? Do they think that the state whose publicity machine tirelessly cranks out a multicultural and cooperative message is going to put up with someone who wants to jail people for political opposition? Californians may be tree huggers (which is a point in their favor, imo) but they're not about to give up the ability to start their own businesses, or elect people who imply that perhaps they shouldn't. Further, this is the state where Republicans lost the governorship (and by now, every other important office) partly because state residents weren't willing to tolerate the racist implications of forbidding illegal immigrants (by which the Republicans meant Mexicans) to use state services like public schooling.

I think we all know which party has been filling the news with suggestions that entire cultures deserve our bloody and immediate retribution. We know who's been expanding the ability to perform surveillance on citizens purely for information gathering, an act that our government deemed a generation ago to be highly prone to abuse. We know who's been turning the media into a timid mouthpiece for their own political benefit. And it's obvious that someone is pushing tax cuts that will undercut the millions of small businesses in America, by ensuring that their potential customers can't afford their services. It sure isn't the Progressive caucus of the Democratic Party.

posted by Natasha at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK |

Lisa Rein finds links and commentary that make Henry Kissinger look like an even worse choice to head a fact finding commision. And here I was thinking it just couldn't be done. Included is a link to an archive of Christopher Hitchens' work, before he started collecting money from the other side. As Atrios noted, the poor man's head must be nearly exploding. This quote was particularly 'good' (wherein I'm using some alternate meaning of good that makes my head hurt):

"Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government."

-- Henry Kissinger speaking at Evian, France, May 21, 1992 Bilderburg meeting. Unbeknownst to Kissinger, his speech was taped by a Swiss delegate to the meeting.

posted by Natasha at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK |

Courtesy of my friend Julia, I'm informed that San Jose Mercury News writer Mike Langberg is engaging in speculation about the 10-yr future of technology. Included is a link to his self-graded report card for how his 10-yr predictions in 1992 came out.

posted by Natasha at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK |

As though there weren't enough problems in the world, administration hawks are growing paranoid that Latin America may be a threat, owing entirely to a resurgence of mildly leftist populism. I guess they thought that Kissinger and his ilk had arranged to have all that sentiment removed from the thoroughly devastated region, whose economy is worse off than it was in 1980. In part:

Washington threatened to halt desperately needed aid to Bolivia if Morales were elected. Though the tone has been far more cordial toward winners in Brazil, Ecuador and Peru, tensions are surfacing.

Last month, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said if Brazil didn't sign a free-trade deal with the United States, it could "trade with Antarctica." U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill warned he would be watching da Silva closely to make sure the Brazilian leader "is not a crazy person."

Don't these people feel in the least embarassed about villifying some countries for a lack of democracy, and punishing others for practicing it? Do they really have no shame in suggesting that no electorate should be able to pick a government of which we disapprove?

posted by Natasha at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK |

In the Paper of Record today:

The world's glaciers are disappearing, creating a looming water shortage, and ample evidence of rising temperatures. How long will we continue to call for 'more research?'

...According to a story last week by The Times's Juan Forero, the glacier on Chacaltaya Mountain, which claims the world's highest ski slope, has been shriveling so fast that scientists predict its disappearance in 10 years. Chacaltaya Mountain is hardly alone. Shrinking glaciers are a worldwide phenomenon. Great slices of snow and ice are disappearing in places from the Austrian Alps to Glacier National Park in Montana, where the number of glaciers has declined from 150 a century ago to 35 today. In 30 years, there may be none in the park at all. ...

The hypocrisy of farm subsidies is that our 'free-market' loving developed nations block the very markets that would allow poor countries to build their economies. By undercutting their agriculture through drastic import tariffs and subsidizing our own farming sectors to the extent that they can export at less than the cost of production, the one advantage of developing nations is erased in the global trade regime. They continue to remain economically isolated as commodities exporters, based on the mineral content of their land, with those items produced by the actual labor of their citizens restricted from the market.

...A healthy, export-oriented farm sector, based on the cheap land and labor that many poor countries have in abundance, ought to be the first step on the ladder of economic development. But across Africa, South Asia and Latin America, that path out of poverty has been perversely blocked by the subsidies the United States, Europe, Japan and other rich countries pay their most affluent farmers and agricultural businesses. The developed world pays out more than $300 billion a year in farm subsidies, seven times what it gives in development aid. ...

posted by Natasha at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK |

Bombers are called in as fighting breaks out between rival Afghan warlords. I guess that country is all wrapped up then. They can get back to fighting each other, and we can get back to paying attention to more important parts of the world.

posted by Natasha at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK |

Matthew Yglesias and a cast of dozens discuss the terrible threat of the feminists who want to get rid of men. As if.

Doesn't it ever strike anyone as odd that the people who seem most worried about the terrible peril of radical feminism seem to be the very most eager to start wars in which thousands of men will inevitably die? Who's trying to kill off who?

posted by Natasha at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK |