bush lied, people died. escalate nonviolence.
Natural Selection In Action
Overwhelming violence rarely solves problems in living systems. Violence can certainly change things, alter the landscape, etc. But it doesn't tend to solve the problems that it was intended to solve, instead it creates a tangential problem space. It could be argued that, of course, it could solve problems correctly given sufficient information about where to apply it. But human beings are so notoriously lacking in the 'sufficient information' department that this allegation must be relegated to the realm of fairy tale for now.
We could consider the problem of disinfecting hospitals. For many years, hospitals lead the charge in buying ever stronger antibacterial potions with which to scrub Every Available Surface. As an end result, they became home to such virulent infectious agents that a primary danger to recovering surgical patients was secondary infection acquired at the hospital. The overuse of antibiotics has followed a similar trajectory. (This article covers it pretty well, though the author is a little light on his evolutionary theory.)
Or, we could look at agricultural pesticides. The unintended result of their mass application is pesticide resistant pests. Yeah, lots of insects, fungi, etc. die. But some will live, will become the dominant strain, and will take over the space left by their recently vanquished brethren. Living things of all kinds have been engaging in this kind of temporary one-upmanship for millions of years, very rarely with any clear, long-term advantage.
But the way it works is that varied populations of living organisms usually have some number of members capable of surviving more extreme circumstances. Under normal conditions, these individuals might not be the healthiest, the most fit, or even the most favored among their species. But we're talking about survival, after all. Wipe the rest out, the few who can survive will move in and take over.
And we've been seeing this in the extreme, in the macro, over in the Middle East for well over a hundred years now. After successive waves of colonization, puppet governments, the gradual accumulation of power in the hands of the ever more ruthless, survival doesn't always accrue to the best elements. When it comes to politics, to the actions of nations as a whole, it becomes dangerous bordering on suicidal to be gentle and civil.
This was proved by Rachel Corrie. Her mother made this statement on Mother's Day, in part:
The 2002 death of a UN aid worker, and the shootings of others who followed the ideals of nonviolent resistance effectively neutralize the voice of restraint in Palestinian society. Every bit as much as the attack of 9-11 neutralized the voice of restraint and moderation in America.
The Israelis act out of a desire to be safe. Wounded America lashes out furiously around the world to achieve a state of safety. Indeed, every group or government that enacts a reign of blood and terror does so to try and make things better, to become safer. They frequently succeed in changing the circumstances under which they operate, of getting rid of some enemies. But their original goal remains tantalizingly out of reach.
In complex living systems, harsher attacks generate more strenuous defense. In the microcosm of the individual, they push us towards the least civilized, and most cunning parts of our psyche. It happens because living things want to continue living, and will attempt to destroy what threatens them if they cannot escape it. It can be forgotten that the mirror of that desire lives in our opponents.
We live together today in a knotty web of causality and responsibility. It's too easy to underestimate the strength of the survival instinct in others, to perilously ignore the resourcefulness of the human animal under threat. Far too easy to forget the things that tie us all to each other. Today, a target can be removed. Tomorrow, a wilier one will take its place. A battle can be won, but the war...posted by Natasha at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK |
Billmon put up a 4th of July post on the price of patriotism that's worth your while.
Magpie wants us to go read Molly Ivins' patriotic commentary.
From the Political State Report, I find that my home state of Washington has recently joined California in getting the finger from the FERC.
The Mad Prophet has two posts in succession about the latest Coulter idiocy, and then pointed out the Anarchist's Wedding Guide - 11 Reasons Not To Go Through With It. This article is one which, if you're a guy dating a girl, you shouldn't even think about sending her. Untoward things might be Read Into It. But with an opening like "Besides costing enough to feed a village in Madagascar...", how could it not be fun?
Pandagon finds some exceptionally stupid French bashing. You could be tempted to ask if there were any other kind, but I wasn't kidding about the 'exceptional' part. Also, Jesse takes us on a quick tour of tax cut rationalizations.
Further thoughts on Leadership
After presenting an argument about why I think George W Bush is not a true leader, it seems appropriate to give some examples of what I look for in a leader. This week, Allen Brill of the Right Christians has had a wonderful series of essays discussing Harry Truman (start here and work your way back up). Going into the 1948 elections, Harry Truman made a decision to integrate the armed services when the majority of the country was against it. As Allen shows, no one believed that Truman could survive the fallout, but Truman believed it was an issue that was worth losing the election over.
Allen then asks us to consider our present slate of Democratic candidates and to say how our particular favorite measures up to Truman's example. Do take time to consider this question and add your thoughts to this conversation. Even though I haven't yet settled on my own choice (not surprising since as Stephen at the Barricades noted, I'm a Dead Dog Democrat), I thought it was well worth considering. When I think of that type of optimistic, humanistic and courageous leadership, Paul Wellstone comes to mind.
Some might ask, well, doesn't Bush also make decisions that are unpopular? Why judge him differently? The difference in my mind comes in how the decisions are made and to what purpose. Both Truman and Wellstone were very open to hearing all comers and then making up their minds on what they thought was right. Bush, on the other hand, only listens to his own cronies. The purpose of both Truman and Wellstone was to build a more inclusive, fairer society. Bush, on the other hand, supports policies that creates winners (his friends) and losers (everyone else). Instead of deciding after gathering evidence, Bush's style is to pick the policy that advances his overall goal and then search for evidence that backs the decision. His vision for our country and our world is ultimately bleak and selfish.
Another example of real leadership is seen in Aung San Suu Kyi. Today on NPR, Scott Simon used his essay to talk about her and what the world has pieced together after the generals took her into custody a little over a month ago. It's been a horrible month for her and her supporters. She has been held in Mynamar's most notorious prison until just recently, and was only moved after UN special envoy Razali Ismail expressed deep concern over her detainment. Just this week, a couple of her supporters who had escaped to Thailand, gave evidence about the attack on her convoy leading to her imprisonment. The military government encouraged the mob and then took her into custody because, they claimed, Aung San Suu Kyi was inciting unrest.
When looking for courage, I often reflect on the example of Aung San Suu Kyi. I hope she also finds solace from her words which have inspired so many to face fear and yet carry on.
When Nelson Mandela was finally freed after decades of imprisonment, there were reports of how his dignity and kindness led to his guards to grow to love him and so they found ways to care for him through that period. I sincerely hope that Aung San Suu Kyi also finds guards that will be a source of human kindness while she waits. Her safety lies in the international community who will not let her be forgotten.
If you care about this issue, please visit Amnesty International to help with their efforts to keep the pressure on the Mynamar government.posted by Mary at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK |
Friday, July 04, 2003
Letter to Emma Bovary, 4 July 2003
Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older. Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder. Firdowsi and I sat on the roof all night long and watched the sun rise this morning over Oakland. We didn't mean to, but we found it was somehow agreeable to talk about you. It was I who wept.
Firdowsi is doing well. You didn't ask but he is. He's tanned and working on something new. I told him again and again that the story of Rustam and Sohreb needs work. He contrived a plot device that sets the work in Oakland. He loves it here, now. He says there's something so glorious and splendid about this city that he could only put his heart in a story set here. And the displays of national pride today are really stunning. You would like it, Emma. I remember when you first came here and there was the airshow. Yeah, we look really goofy but we're fun to watch. The tiles of the Mosque of Dzheri Burown are glistening arabesques of red, white, and blue, and the muezzins are reading the Declaration of Independence. What fine words!
Yes, and the Okay City opened last week. I looked through my older letters to you and discovered I didn't actually mention the Okay City. It's like the Forbidden City except the opposite. Whereas Yongle surrounded his palatial complex with double walls, the Okay City is set on a hill surrounded by escalators and waterfalls between the escalators. As one ascends one is hailed by those on the down escalators, and we reach across over the cooling mists and clasp hands, or blow kisses. The grand arches sweep outward to hail the glittering lights and the glistening copper sheet that is the San Francisco Bay. There, beneath the colossal eaves stretching a dozen meters out from high stone pillars, with brilliant red varnished dragons with forked tongues offering benediction, are Gandarese sculptures of ecstatic apsari.
Firdowsi was impressed.
It's bright and sunny and I write this to you from a PDA on a howdah. Thankfully, my elephant is unperturbed by the cackle of firecrackers and the little children of all complexions running about with magnesium sparklers. In the shadow of the high stone pavilions, there are is the astringent odor of sweet rosemary olives and the spectra from sunshine through glasses of Greek wine. I see a procession which I caught on my digital camera--here it is!
Firdowsi says hi. Sincerely, J. MacLean.
Thursday, July 03, 2003
Bush, the unlucky?
Gee, all the time I've complained about Bush's lucky streak* during the last few years, it turns out that as usual with a compulsive gambler, his luck is going sour.
And here all the time, I thought we were the unlucky ones having such a dorkus in the White House during these turbulent times.
* Bush's luckiest day: having 9/11 happen on his watch. America's unluckiest day: having 9/11 happen on Bush's watch.
Community Meeting with Jay Inslee
Note: For the sake of clarity, these statements are mostly being relayed in the first person. They are not exact quotes, as the staff requested that there be no recordings, and the audience questions have been significantly shortened (everybody was far more eloquent). That noted, I've done my best to make this accurate to the spirit of what was said.
Q: What can be done about pharmaceutical advertisements?
A: We can make sure that they're accurate. I haven't supported barring generic advertising out of respect for the First Amendment. Also, when drug companies create a relationship with a doctor, offering trips, or promotional packages, and patients come in with a problem, the doctor may prescribe that company's drug even when others may be better. Patients should not be denied information about other medication.
Q: How can our security be improved?
A: Police or military action should be designed to respond to modern threats instead of Cold War issues. We need to fix transportation and port security. Our intelligence system is inadequate. We don't have enough human intelligence in the field, we're too enamoured of electronic measures.
Also, we need to reduce the desire of people to kill us. A primary concern is to bring peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two things need to happen: 1) Palestinian moderates need to confront the minority who will not accept Hebrew people in their region & push for contiguous Palestinian state. 2) Israeli moderates need to confront the minority who want to extend the Israeli state into the West Bank.
Q: Audience member made a statement about not being able to have unprincipled aggression without respect for others, expressed opposition to the way the Iraq war had been handled.
A: Congressman Inslee stated that he had opposed the war with Iraq. [At this point, and recall that the average age in the room was approx. 60, there was one of many points of spontaneous applause. This was also the only point during the meeting when the congressman was booed, and it came from only one (very noisy) person. The significant majority pretty much just clapped harder.]
I have concerns that one of three situations existed during the debate: 1) Intelligence failed, 2) intelligence was not conveyed to the White House, or 3) the White House did not convey intelligence to the public. It's impontant to the future of democracy to have a non-partisan public investigation.
[I'm including here an 'orphaned' quote from later in the session that relates to the topic of the previous exchange. I don't seem to have written down the question that it was a response to.] ...Quite a number of intelligence services likely told the president that Hussein was not cooperating with Al Qaida. I suspect that information was withheld.
Q: I'm concerned that we need to investigate the ownership of electronic voting, as some of these companies are part owned by Saudi Arabian investors. What are we doing to implement a paper trail?
A: We're very concerned about this issue, and we're looking right now at supporting a bill with congressman Rush to require a paper trail in all electronic voting systems. Additionally, I'm also looking into another bill the congressman is sponsoring, the Apollo Energy Program which will reduce our country's emissions and create jobs.
And that's all for now. Tune in next time, for more democracy in action.posted by Natasha at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK |
Greek Mythology in Our Own Lives
Every so often someone comes along who always asks you questions you've always wanted to answer. Mary occasionally invites me to liken people to figures from Greek legend. One of the more compelling questions was, "If we at The Watch were characters from the Greek myths, whom would we be?" Let's see a show of hands for floating through Elysium nude, endowed with an exquisite body. The tricky part is that that we have to pick our works of literature carefully. Mary is like Pallas Athena in The Iliad but unlike the same goddess in The Eumenides of Aeschylus. In Homer, Athena is the sucessful and gentle partisan of the fractious Argives:
Only Achilles saw her, none of the other fighters--Well, we can hardly afford to have Achilles the Green draw his sword on Agamemnon the Democrat, now can we?
Her gray eyes clear, the goddess Athena answered,But the Athena of The Eumenides is entirely unlike Mary in every respect. There, the goddess--remember, having sprung from the head of Zeus--appears to make an embarrassing sppech for patriarchy. It's too complicated and fulsome to explain.
In the later plays of Euripides, it is usually the men whose courage is lacking and the women who must not only lay down their lives, but their pride too.
Clytemnestra:Answer what I shall ask like a man, O husband.And so Clytemnestra spills the beans about Agamemnon's glorious methods of getting a human girl for the ultimate sacrifice. The careful reader will notice that Agamemnon was earlier allegorized as a Democrat against the Achillean Green. But I was really focused on the women in these analogies; and your humble bloghead has a perverse mania for compound ironies. Clytemnestra's strenuous efforts come to nothing, but hardly because she's outsmarted by Agamemnon. Agamemnon outsmarts himself.
Now, at this point I'm supposed to think of someone from Greek mythology who reminds me of our fearless leader. Oh, my aching head. Who makes me think of a man who lies to his soldiers and his wife, sacrifices his children not only out of religious hysteria, but a sham of religious hysteria, launches a silly and immoral war against a Middle Eastern country, humiliates his colleagues in the high command, and struts around the deck of his ship holding an effigy of the god Priapus? Remember, he has to respond to direct questions by declaring that the question itself is outrageous--as a tactic to avoid lying. Sorry, Mary, I can't think of anyone.
FOOTNOTES: * Translated by Robert Fagles, Penguin Classics, 1990
ADDENDUM: Most readers of Greek plays aren't used to the idea of Clytemnestra as a sympathetic figure. Sophocles and Aeschylus wrote plays in which she is arrogant and conniving, when not ruthless. But in some versions each character is by turns glorious and barbaric. Euripides tends to turn stories on their heads. This is because he was exhorting his countrymen to end the insane war they were waging, a war that began confidently enough but culminated in the destruction of the democratic state itself. Euripides, at one point, actually has one of his plays feature Athena pleading with Zeus against Athens' forces.
In contrast, Homer, Aeschylus and Sophocles were usually conservative in outlook. They favored piety over the state, but the patriarchal heroes were usually protagonists, even when flawed. Euripides turnd the tide, especially as the mania of his countrymen threatened to engulf the nation he served. BTW, you knew Euripides was a a general as well as a playwright?posted by James R MacLean at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK |
Why Bush Is Not a Good Leader
One of the more mysterious things to me about Bush is why anyone would think he is a good leader. Why is there so much confusion about what leadership is? For the past few decades, people believe that those who exemplify success on the free market are our heros: leaders like Ken Lay or Al Dunlap. Today warriors are also shown to be leaders as witnessed by the types of movies and TV shows that become blockbusters. Who are the heroes of our days? What type of person do kids want to grow up to be? One thing is clear: more and more people want to be rich and famous. Because of this, the warrior kings, the CEOs, and those made wealthy by their fame are now what many people expect to see in a leader. They are honored for their willingness to break eggs to impose their will on their domain. Yes, many people see confident and decisive people as leaders.
So what about George W. Bush? He certainly drapes himself in the robes of the bold, risk-taking and strong leader that is glorified by today's culture. And even though he has had very little real business success himself, he affects the confidence and demeanor of a strong CEO. His facade allows him to present himself as a warrior king. So despite the fact that he shirked his responsibilities during the Vietnam war, he struts around like a bantam cock and spouts off threats like "Bring them on" to show the world what a pugulist he is. Billmon notes:
With George W. Bush puffing himself up as the toughest man in the universe, I found myself shaking my head once again. Why would anyone think he is a leader?
Reviewing some leadership training material at work today, I was struck by the list of Derailment Inhibitors listed, because it is pretty clear that Bush would have had a very hard time being promoted at my company.
Update: Personally, my favorite leader these days is Aung San Suu Kyi. She exemplifies courage and vision and is a tremendous example to follow. What more can you ask of a leader?posted by Mary at 1:11 AM | PERMALINK |
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
To The Barricades talks about the next wave of veterans with PTSD.
Back to Iraq highlights our Dear Leader taunting the Iraqis to bring it on at a press conference, and points out that our tax cuts to millionaires come at the direct cost of a dangerously underfunded public safety infrastructure.
Ampersand has a good blog roundup of his own.
Follow Me Here on libel protection for bloggers and speaking in quotes.
Brian Linse on the recents Republican bigot eruptions.
MyDD talks about Dean & payroll taxes.
Mark Kleiman has more on Lawrence vs. Texas.
Lisa of the no-working-permalinks plays language
Ekr at Educated Guesswork applies economic multiple personality disorder to CD pricing, and then a ridiculous amount of math to affirmative action as the Supremes have approved it.
Electrolite talks about the insanity of California prisons, and finds that another senior Democrat has had the backbone to be publicly outraged by Bush's remarks inviting attacks on our troops in Iraq.
Making Light on vanity press publishing scams.
...of a godawful, but genuine, statement made by a member of way too many Republican mailing lists, and regular Fox News watcher. Thank god it was a phone conversation, so that my look of shock and horror went unseen. While talking about how horrible it was that the US was losing its sovereignty to the UN, the ICC, and any form of multilateralism in general, said of the UN general assembly, 'half of them can't read, how can they even think?' I just can't think of anything to say to that, so on that disturbing note, I'll be seeing y'all tomorrow.posted by Natasha at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK |
Community Meeting with Jay Inslee
Over the weekend, I mentioned the community meeting that my district's congressman held, and promised to write about it. Well, I took several pages of notes, and if I wait until I have time to sit down and type up the whole thing in one go, it just won't get done. So, I'll post it as a series of installments.
In the highly unlikely event that you, dear reader, were there, note that I'm not going to be putting all of the Q&A in sequence, and that there are few direct quotes. Inslee's staff asked that the session not be tape recorded, to ensure that everyone in attendance felt comfortable about speaking.
As background, for those of you who don't live in Washington state's 1st congressional district, Jay Inslee is quite progressive. Though he did not get to speak (in a shocking display of bad time management by the organizers), he attended the February 15th peace rally in downtown Seattle. He favors environmental protections, alternative energy, reproductive choice, government funded healthcare, unemployment protection and retraining, opposed the FCC media consolidation ruling, and holds a liberal position on many other issues discussed daily here, and at neighboring blogs.
At the 2002 midterm election, he re-won this district with over 70% of the vote.
To start, there were well over 100 people in attendance, and more filtered in throughout the beginning. The average age was probably 60, though that may be lowballing things a bit. And I note this not only to give you a better image of the occasion, but to challenge the idea that liberalism is something that's inevitably grown out of.
The congressman suggested that we be polite to each other if we disagreed, but stated that we were welcome to boo him, as a public servant. That only happened once (and it was only one person), and I'll get to it, but with that exception, Inslee got a very warm reception. His statements in support of progressive/liberal ideals were greeted with frequent applause and general enthusiasm.
We began the event with the pledge of allegiance, and a round of applause for all the veterans in the audience, who were encouraged to stand up. And briefly, we were offered some good news: they're very close to getting approval for 150-200 additional screeners at Sea-Tac airport, and working on better port security.
He spoke to us briefly about the national debt, and how it constituted a tax increase on every citizen. A figure that stood at approximately $4,000 per head would have covered this year's payments, and by 2008, the amount will rise to over $6,000 for each and every one of us. As he noted, this money buys no federal services.
Then he lightly touched on a topic that would come up several times, Medicare. Inslee stated that due to low funding for the program, only 50% of WA state doctors will even take it. He says they just don't get paid enough for their services.
Q&A - As best I could scribble down
Q: Why did congress pass such a tremendous tax cut if they're aware of this debt?
A: The country was just digging out of debt in 2000. Increased defense expenditures, recession, and tax cuts worsened it. Two of these conditions are temporary. But the tax cuts, which represent a transfer of taxation from me to my children, with be with us much longer. Republicans are trying to starve Medicare, Headstart, and many other federal programs which they don't believe in. Also, these are the budget projections from the president's office, and not from the Democrats.
Q: As a manager, I just had to ship off my entire team's jobs to India. Why are we giving tax breaks to corporations that are exporting jobs, even as we lose the taxes on those wages, and not making worker retraining available?
A: Well, it is a global marketplace now. But unfair tax law allows corporations to get a post office box overseas and not pay tax. The minority party is working on this. And we need to start looking at retraining as a lifetime process, to allow people to keep up with technology. It should be as easy to get an education at 48 as it is at 12.
Statement: The congressman was thanked for working with a constituent who, without additional counsel, was able to get 27 years worth of arrears from Social Security for her ailing, 90 year old mother.
Q: How can drug companies be provented from taking advantage of the prescription drug benefit?
A: The prescription drug benefit bill that passed in the House at 3am is a benefit for the drug companies. There are enormous gaps in coverage, no cost containment mechanisms, and the bill makes it illegal for the US government to negotiate a better price with drug companies. In 10 years, it would effectively do away with Medicare, replacing a guaranteed lifetime benefit with guaranteed lifetime premiums. The bill in the Senate is more reasonable, closer to simply adding a drug benefit. But I do believe that we need to maintain a profit incentive for new drug development.
Q: In the upcoming presidential election, is there a plan for elected officials and party leaders to work together to counter the president's message?
A: I get that question a lot. But I'm here as a representative today, and not as a Democrat. We'll have to talk about campaign strategies at another time.
That's all for today, folks. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the next riveting installment of your political process in action.posted by Natasha at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK |
To Wisdom, Courage and Long-Suffering Love
This, of course, is from a "bad quarto" of Hamlet. The Watch, of course, must bear witness to Hamlet that his father's unavenged spirit wanders the battlements by night--setting in motion the action of this supreme political thriller. Another version might be from Agamemnon*:
The Watch, here, waits for the sign of the news that Troy has fallen; for the Mycenaeans, this is glorious, chiefly because their husbands and sons shall be returning after ten years in Ilium. But now I shall think of the spirit of Prometheus: in Greek mythology, the creator of man, our defender and advocate before a surly Zeus, and finally, one who pays the ultimate price to save us from the arrogant Olympians. Prometheus created humans from the earth and endowed us with fire; for this he is literally crucified to the highest and remotest cliff known to the ancient Greeks, in the Greater Caucasus mountains. There he is left for three thousand years, with shafts of bronze driven through his flesh; every day a kite comes to tear out his viscera, and every night it is renewed. The earthquakes rattle the ground beneath his back and the blazing sun scorches his flesh, while the ice-cold of night clasps him in ice.
Prometheus keeps watch.
Why did Zeus feel such an animus towards Prometheus? According to some oracle, he would one day be supplanted by a new generation of gods--this was the unknown god, whose shrine the Apostle Paul mentions (Acts 17:23). Zeus had overthrown his father, Cronus, despite the latter's rather gruesome methods to prevent the rise of the Olympians. Now Prometheus, a Titan who had briefly served the Olympians, had created and empowered humans, a race Zeus assumed was the most likely successor to himself. But with the fecklessness and narcissism of absolute power, Zeus forgot his dread of the race of humans, turned them against each other, and took to raping or seducing humans--both female and male.
Why did Aeschylus write such terrible things about Zeus and present them as plays for the edification of the state? The Athenians were intensely proud of their piety. Their dilligence in creating splendid shrines to Pallas Athene and to Zeus were seen as evidence of this. But the notion of how God ought to behave was very different then:
This, from Homer's Iliad, I.600ff,** is motivated by a petty outrage to her son's pride. Zeus reveals himself to be terribly fearful of his wife's outrage and offers to help his beloved Thetis surreptitiously. The ideal of a truly omnipotent, transcendent God was still very far away from the ancient Greeks. Henotheistic gods served their children and glorious members of their earthly cult. Aphrodite, personally dedicated to the person of Paris (called Alexandros throughout the Iliad) does nothing to help Ilion--she's wrecks a truce that might have saved Ilion, just to rescue her darling Alexandros.
The idea of the omnipotent God seems to have developed independently of the henotheistic cults we usually associate with ancient Greek religion. Piety lay in anticipating the rights owed to higher beings, beings whose motives were analogous to those of kings and warlords. But the gods--Zeus, Apollo, and certainly Hera--were described in ways that warned of the consequences faced of affronting their wishes.
This is the first of a series of posts on the idea of Prometheus as a direct affront to these Olympians. The Olympians, you see, were not at all affronted by the ugly depiction of their motives in the Iliad. As long as the rites were done punctually, and due respect paid to their emblems on earth, they did not care about the resentment with which they were viewed.
If Zeus represents the sternness and arrogance of power, Prometheus represents an ideal of opposition to that power. He is always awake; he's been angry and hurt, and yet he has transcended anger:
His love and gentleness grows and he begins to inspire a growing number of questing explorers. He's interesting in part because he has to cope with the inability to do anything. We at The Watch--that goes for our beloved readers also--often do have the feeling of being unable to influence events and yet unable to look away. But I have a particularly lush, hidden vale of delight I'd like to share with you that should offer a welcome solace from our daily cup of trembling.
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Vote With Your Wallet
In what's going to become a regular feature here, I'll be encouraging readers to support causes that advance a progressive agenda. Even if your contribution is small, it makes a difference, because it demonstrates support for issues that matter. An organization with 100,000 members is in a far better bargaining position with legislators than one with only a couple thousand.
Earth Justice is "an independent, nonprofit, public interest environmental law firm that represents hundreds of clients in more than 275 active cases around the country." Their website draws attention to an article about how the Bush administration has ignored overwhelming public comment on environmental issues.
But in a recent mailer they point out that the administration is also undermining environmental legislation passively, by simply failing to adequately defend environmental laws in court when attacked by industry. Look at the urgent cases they're fighting to enforce what's left of federal protections for our land, air, and water, and think about sending them whatever you can.
Our votes didn't count in 2000, our comments and concerns didn't count at all after that. But that doesn't mean we can't make a difference for the environment. It's down to money and the courts now, and if each of us chips in a little, we can still win this. After all, now that corporations and wealthy citizens are bailing on their financial responibilities, it's a lot of 'little people' like us who now make up the bulk of our government's budget. And that's a lot of weight to throw around.posted by Natasha at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK |
"But I'm an engineer. I like to poke at things to find out how they work."
"Well I'm a biologist. I know that if you poke at things long enough, they'll bite you."posted by Natasha at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK |
Old News That Isn't
Seeing the Forest pointed out a posting over at TBogg on insider trading at the American Enterprise Institute, or AEI. And after reading that, I went back and clicked on the link to Media Transparency's AEI page, and found the following headline on the sidebar:
The link goes to a page that no longer exists, and in looking for additional information, I came across this collection of Enrongate stories. Here's a Washington Post headline and excerpt from that page, with a great story about one of the Bush 2000 campaign's finest political consultants:
In other words, the standard Mighty Wurlitzer campaign. On behalf of corporate executives in the process of stealing billions of dollars from the public. The article goes on to tell us a little more about Ralph Reed, and his corporate consulting tactics, emphasis mine:
And Reed is in pretty tight with those faith-based activists, with this 1999 Human Life Review article discussing the possibility of a constitutional anti-abortion amendment referring to Reed as one of the Christian right's Big Three:
Dizzy now. I feel a powerful urge to stand with hand on heart while listening to Lee Greenwood, and then, I think I would like to see someone get body slammed while drinking myself into oblivion. But I'll feel bad about it, so I may follow up with a chaser of the 700 Club, where another member of the Big Three and longtime Friend of Bush can cleanse my mind of all these terribly impolite thoughts about Dear Leader.
AEI 1996 roundtable discussions on political strategy, starring; Karlyn H. Bowman, Lynne V. Cheney, Irving Kristol, Michael Barone, Gary Bauer, Robert P. Casey, Michael Farris, Christopher Hitchens, Frank Luntz, and Grover Norquist.
AEI commentary on why evangelical christians support Israel.
Karl Rove's incestuous political circle.posted by Natasha at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK |
A while back, I attended the New Progressive Network's Saying Something event in Portland. It's taken some time to get back to this subject, but tonight I finally posted something about it at the Political State Report. This is a really exciting organization and they've got some great ideas that can be picked up by progressives in other states. Along with building up the institutional infrastructure like the Commonweal Institute and Podesta's American Majority Institute, taking our message to regular people is key. Finding ways to talk to your family, friends, neighbors and coworkers is what will allow progressives to spread their message despite the fact that our mass media is so bad.
One thing I noticed when I got on to PolState today is that Emma Goldberg of Notes on the Atrocities is also going to be an Oregon reporter for PolState. (Yes! Oregon needs more stories!) Emma has an Oregon blog as well, where she writes up her thoughts on Oregon topics. And I love her mission statement: One eye on Bill Sizemore, one eye on Salem, and one eye on my beer.
(Oh no, another blog to add to my must visit list! sigh. Someday I'll just have to figure out how to get by on 2 hours of sleep. Or read faster. Or stop working. Or ....)posted by Mary at 12:36 AM | PERMALINK |
I'd like to urge you all to go see Winged Migration coming to a theatre near to you soon. It is an incredible thing of beauty. I received the following via my Oregon Birders OnLine email list yesterday:
Having seen it, I can say, yes, you really do feel like you are flying with the birds. It was an awesome experience.posted by Mary at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK |
Monday, June 30, 2003
Max speaks on the proposed prescription drug benefit.
PeaceTreeFarm on Dean's declaration and Brett Bursey's arrest.
Eschaton: start here, read down.
Al-Muhajabah highlights the growing willingness of women in Saudi Arabia to speak out for their rights.
Talk Left on Bill Frist's backing of a anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, the innocence project in Alabama, and the disheartening news that Ralph Nader wants to run again. Ralph, for love of god, stay at the office, and stick to inveighing against corporate malfeasance from there.
Billmon has mixed feelings about Dean, but is impressed by his fundraising. Also, he writes about the death of one of our best and brightest, and I think he speaks for many when he says that Lance Cpl. MacDonald was "fed into the meatgrinder of a pointless, unnecessary war by men who were quite literally not fit to lick his combat boots." Read the comments, and read this.
Edit: addendum removed.posted by Natasha at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK |
Reincarnation of a Very Bad Idea
Jeanne over at Body and Soul alerts us to the fact that the Bush administration would like to see a strong international peacekeeping force trained and directed by the US government. As she goes on to point out, there are a lot of places in the world that could use some peacekeeping, or perhaps more accurately, peacerestoring.
But the US government via the auspices of the Defense Department has already tried training foreign troops to 'keep the peace' in their countries. And that effort was formerly known as the School of the Americas, since renamed as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC). Here's the introduction from the School of the Americas Watch, links mine:
This is a brief sampling from their 2002 Graduates in the News page, links mine:
Additionally, the attempted 2002 coup in Venezuela against elected President Hugo Chavez was backed by SOA trained generals, at least one of whom was refused entry into the US in a Bush administration bid to distance themselves from the failed takeover. This 2001 Guardian article has a more general perspective, emphasis mine:
And I guess what I'm trying to say here is this: Perhaps the possibility should be considered that the US Department of Defense should not be the first choice institution for training a multinational peacekeeping force. But maybe it's just me.posted by Natasha at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK |
Sunday, June 29, 2003
Dennis Kucinich (and I guess I should have noticed this earlier) actually has an opinion on water rights and privatization. Ye gods and little fishes. I have to love a candidate that even knows this is an issue, shows he's thinking ahead.
It's moderately less noteworthy (but only slightly so) that he's willing to tell the truth about the drug war. I'm interested in this topic on a personal level because while I've passed the point where I have any interest in partaking, I deeply resent the fact that we think nothing of spending money on prisons while my school has to struggle for funding. There are a lot of good general arguments to be made on the basis of erosion of civil liberties, and the sheer insanity of victimless crimes, but anything that hurts education spending is just standing on my last nerve right now.
Kucinich is even willing to be attached to that uber-elitist concern, worker's rights. He appears to know what inflation means, too. And not just because it shrinks the absolute value of your investment portfolio:
These are issues that in the 2000 election, only Nader was willing to touch. If these issues, or any of the others that Kucinich is talking about are important to you, and you don't feel like they're being adequately addressed elsewhere, help him get heard. Even if he doesn't win the nomination, you will have supported reintroducing 'third rail' topics to our public debate.posted by Natasha at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK |
Dwight Meredith agrees with Charles Krauthammer on energy policy. Which is disturbing and encouraging all at once, though by now, the benefits of not being dependent on OPEC must be clear to everyone. However, I'd like to note my strenuous disagreement to the idea that drilling in ANWR represents a sensible part of a long term solution.
Seeing the Forest with the goods on the concentration of wealth in America.
Shadow of the Hegemon takes people to task for being hoodwinked by the phrase "nobody in their right mind," as it applied to the belief that Hussein's Iraq indeed had no weapons.
Unknown News on the military attack on Qaim which occurred as US troops were firing at a convoy at the Syrian border, the $6,000 fine levied on a business for not reporting a customer question about the origin of a product, and points to stories on federal officials using the RAVE act to shut down a political fundraiser.
Over at This Modern World, our attention is drawn to some slyly titled letters to the editor and the evangelical assertion that Islam itself is a WMD, also, a link to the video of President Bush doing nothing when he first received the news of the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Skippy tells us that charges against anti-war activists in San Francisco have been dropped. Apparently, there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute them, so like, yay.
Go check out Zizka's June issue where he talks (among other things) about the ways that New Democrats weaken the Democratic party.
TBogg points out that instead of engaging in whatever sinful, prurient, or simply pointless, activity we occupied ourselves with this weekend, we could have been attending an abstinence convention. In Las Vegas. Also, in something that I was sure he was just making up, but turned out not to have been, the Bush reelection effort will be partly relying on the heinously unfunny Dennis Miller. Irony... slowly... asphyxiating...posted by Natasha at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK |