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There has been a thought that I have been wanting to write about for a while but felt it was a little too big for me to start. I will try to take it on in a few small nibbles instead. I hope that this will, in some small measure, hindered by my inability as a writer, help you understand my positions and the purpose for this page.
I am not so vain as to entertain the idea that any of my ideas are going to be original. In the course of researching what I want to say here I have come across some nice articles that run along the same lines.
I come at politics from a relative position of ignorance. It wasn't something that was really debated at my house while I was growing up. There weren't heated debates about race or education. I was sent to a small catholic school and moved on to go to the bigger catholic high school. My education in a religious environment didn't influence my politics directly either. I never recall the priest giving sermon's about taxes, abortion or who to vote for come election day. At least not that I paid attention to anyway. I do recall hearing the same gospels over and over again to the point where I knew which one was being started after just a few words. My father was a Democrat because of his union at work and because I think he was raised as one as well, though it was never stated. I do recall at one point learning that the word Reagan was the near equivalent to a curse word that a president's name could get. This was apparently due to the way Reagan's policies led to the eventually purchase and dismantling of the company where my father had worked for some 20+ years.
This is enough biographical information for now. Suffice it to say that religion didn't directly influence my politics and I was never subjected to any direct indoctrination either. I could have come out of my upbringing with very different beliefs.
I jumped into my own political education not so very long ago, but I can tell that even the basic core beliefs that I developed outside of politics influences me. In particular I feel that my education in the scientific field has been invaluable in helping me to approach politics with a skeptical mind. In the process of learning about cells, chemical reactions and developmental process I was practicing a very open minded evidence based approach to learning. This contrasted with the "end goal" based approach that I see other people using.
What has come to baffle and intrigue me is the very bizarre alliance that has formed between fundamentalist Christianity and hard-line pro-capitalism, creating a strange ideology that centers around the god-granted system of capitalism in defiance of the Hell-spawned forces of socialism/communism.
It was not until the nineteenth century A.D. that a man (Karl Marx) lived who so basically attacked the morality of God, as taught in the Hebrew-Christian Scriptures, that there is nothing left of the Eighth Commandment. Either Scripture is all wrong, or Marx is all wrong. Of all things, Marx was no petty quibbler. He was one of the greatest revolutionaries toward God who has ever lived. - Progressive Calvinism, April, 1957; The "Issue" Between Communism And Christianity; by Frederick Nymeyer
This idea seems to be quite a stretch to me though I will make no claims to being an expert on Marx. What it does strike me as is politically useful. I have more experience with the Bible than with Marx but from what I know of the gospels I see plenty that indicates that Jesus himself wasn't so friendly towards those that held political or economic power in his day. I recall that he asked his disciples to forego their material wealth to follow him. This seems a marked contrast to the modern day message that garnering vast material wealth is somehow a service to Christ.
I want to be extremely careful not to be misunderstood. I believe that Communism is a counterfeit that has its origins in hell. But all the pulpit-pounding and the sermon-screaming we have heard in recent years against the evils of Communism needs to be examined. Is God really as concerned about systems as much as He is about sin? - IS COMMUNISM REALLY GOD'S WORST ENEMY? By: Keith Green
Even before I started my political studies I had already determined that organized religion at least as it is practiced here in America by most Protestants had horribly strayed from the message of Christ. The messages of the bible had been cut and pasted and reassembled in ways that gave undue weight to passages that reinforced political motivations. At that point, once confronted with this religious dissonance I walked away and declared myself an atheist. Doing so was very enlightening but I have since then settled on a more nuanced but less succinct way of describing my religious beliefs. I find the practice of trying to guess God's wishes beyond our current abilities. I find people that subscribe to the notion that nearly pre-historical man 2000 years ago not only learned of the true nature of God but did so in such a definitive way that God himself has seen little need to come back and clarify anything, whatsoever, odd. I tend to think that we have just seen the tip of the iceberg regarding human existence and our place in the universe that I don't see any reason to give up looking. Otherwise why do we continue to go on. The alternative, that we are wasted generations between biblical times and the apocalypse is depressing.
So why the rush to bed for capitalism and Christianity? Well, I'll explore that in my next attempt to tackle this issue which I have tentatively titled "Reaganism or Why God is a Butterfly". Till then...
Lions and Tigers and Bears!
In an email I received from the Bush campaign today:
President Bush needs your help to overcome the flood of liberal dollars that will be spent to defeat him.
Liberal dollars? Aww, c'mon why don't they just say it? The heinous hordes of child eating communist agitators are coming to take your money and teach your children to be gay loving abortionists!
When the depth of your political conviction stems from creating a false enemy and then bleating hollow alarms of their impending threat you know that your politics are rotten and shallow.
Never mind that Bush is setting fund raising records with private $1,000 a plate dinners for his corporate cronies.
What place does reality have in the fiction of partisan politics?
Last week, I warned you that liberal special interests had pledged to spend over $400 million to defeat President Bush.
Arrogant Man's Burden
Yahoo! News - Iraq postwar insecurity began in Washington: report:
"'CPA stands for the Condescending and Patronizing Americans,' a Baghdad diplomat told Newsweek.
In other words, they couldn't find and educated professionals to agree with their wrong-headed idelogically driven agenda? People who know the region and know the language are seen to be "arab apologists"? Its "White Man's Burden" all over. We're gonna go in there and bring them civilization!
Sixteen divided by twenty is eighty percent. That's how many people disagreed with Rumsfeld and his goons about how to run Iraq. That's not good news. Not when most of those were experts on the arab world.
Ok, I got this issue. When I try to download something with IE, like of Download.com or something similar it launches Quicktime and screws up the download.
I'm usually good at patching up these little glitches but this one has me a bit baffled. And yes, I know, I should just dump IE and use something else... well, yes I could. And well, yes, I should as well.
Chaotic Not Random:
"These commercials are supposed to make me want to buy beer. They don't. They make me want to shut off all the lights and huddle in the corner, rocking and weeping."
Wonderful. I like this guy.
These laws were made for breaking, and that's just what we'll do
One of these days these laws are gonna walk all over you!
C.I.A. Seeks Inquiry Into Naming of an Operative:
"WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — The C.I.A. has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether senior Bush administration officials broke the law by revealing the identity of an agency operative, a government official said today."
The question is not whether these guys in the Whitehouse will self destruct but if the hard core republican foot soldiers will still feel obligated to vote for the smoldering pile of wreckage.
14 More Years!
WorldNetDaily: Keeping touch with reality:
"In Kyle Williams' newly released book, 'Seen and Heard,' America's youngest national columnist takes on the establishment, offering clear evidence that a leftist agenda is at work in our nation."
So clear in fact that a 14 yr old kid can see it. So if its not a vast well of work experience, global travel, or even filing taxes that gives this young child the insight that he has, what is it?
Written by a wet-behind-the-ears lad of 14, Kyle Williams, the books description drops the following bomb on us: "home schooled in rural Oklahoma, Williams brings a fresh perspective to the debate, shattering stereotypes about the apathy of young people."
oh, I see. And fuels his "driving desire to expose liberal propaganda in the nation’s schools and media," considering the fact that he never attended public schools? Geez, if you can't follow this one folks then you're gonna have to start from scratch. For those with no logical thought process, a step by step:
His parents believe that the public schools and the media are tools of liberal propaganda so they decide to homeschool their little darling, teaching him that, well, the schools and media are liberal propaganda tools. Young Kyle, in the absence of evidence to the contrary (isnt that the definition of homeschooling?) decides for himself that the schools and media are liberal propaganda tools. How very, suprising. A closed loop builds a closed mind?
Reading through Kyle's articles though I have to admit he's a bright kid and with the experience of a few years he'll have a better perspective on life. Its encouraging that he has enrolled himself in public schools to get a firsthand look at public education. Or as he likes to call it "government schooling". Its encouraging, but to be a good objective observer he will have to break down his own belief system first, not to forsake his values but to provide a clean context for his observations. Thinking like this has to go:
I am very confident that my opinions will not change; rather, they will be reinforced by the anecdotal evidence gathered daily.
But like I said, I think the kid is smart, and if if he stays on the same path of inquiry with an open mind, we might see something other than the tired ol' right wing talking points. There is hope. Good luck.
Magic 8-Ball Says: Outlook Not So Good!
Online NewsHour: The Cost of War -- September 22, 2003:
"RICHARD PERLE: With all due respect, your sojourns in the cities of Iraq are hardly the appropriate measure of how well we have done in restoring electricity and getting water back on track. I don't think --
So being there is not an "appropriate measure" of how things are going in Iraq? Perle's mental powers of telepathy will not be questioned!
Of course this explains a few things...
"I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news," the president said. "And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."
Garbage in, Garbage out.
How do you know things are going well in Iraq? Well, you ask the recipients of the billions of dollars of reconstruction money. What do they say? "Things are going great but we need more money". Now, Imagine if you will, showing up at the site of your new house that is being built. You've already given the contractor a significant amount of money, but when you show up there is nothing more than a foundation and a few stacks of wood laying around. So you ask. "How are things going?". You get the above answer. Your conclusion is one of a few.
a) They lowballed the estimate knowing it would cost more, but did so to win the bid
b) They are dragging their feet on your project while they shop for new ones.
c) They know that once you're committed they can soak you for all they can.
d) They're incompetant but they think you're an idiot.
Your best course of action is to bring in a third party that can tell you what the project should cost and what the time frame should be. In Iraq there are couple of things that confuse the issue. Who knows just how much it should cost to rebuild a country? And there is a very heavy security component that adds to the overall cost. But I think its fair that we ask some basic accountability questions. And I think it prudent to assume that if the security concerns arise out of an American presence that a sensible course of action would be to try to minimize our visibility there. But that would mean that the American companies wouldn't reap the benefits of our war there. This would anger Wall Street. We can't have that. So bring on the money!
Speech for Itself
Address by the President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, at the 58:
"We speak here of power in all fields of human activity, including the political, economic, military, technological, social, intellectual, and so on.
So, why do you think it was important that this was said? Any targets come to mind?
A Sinking Ship Lifts all Boats?
Democracy Now! | “The Crazies Are Back”: Bush Sr.’s CIA Briefer Discusses How Wolfowitz & Allies Falsely Led the U.S. To War:
"RAY MCGOVERN: Well, when Wolfowitz prepared that defense posture statement in 1991, where he elucidated the strategic vision that has now been implemented, Jim Baker, Secretary of State, Brent Scowcroft, security advisor to George Bush, and George Bush said hey, that thing goes right into the circular file. Suppress that thing, get rid of it. Somebody had the presence of mind to leak it and so that was suppressed. But now to see that arise out of the ashes and be implemented. while we start a war against Iraq, I wonder what Bush the first is really thinking. Because these were the same guys that all of us referred to as ‘the crazies’. "
... you can listen to the whole thing here, and its not pretty. Former CIA analysts saying point blank, "But the President was not telling the truth and everyone knew that."
Ouch! I have to wonder, the seams are coming apart on this president as he shafts the people around him to keep his polical vision intact. The intelligence community is upset, the families of the Reserve are upset, States are suffering, the terminally unemployed are peeved to say the least, and this whole messy job outsouircing thing is coming to a head.
People vote for change when they don't like what's happening. But will the Republicans continue to back Bush just to keep their power in the Whitehouse? I think they have to, and they will. If Bush does manage to win another re-election and its as divisive as this first term we could see the beginning of long dark days ahead for the Republican party.
Pretty Colors... Pretty Shapes!
William Safire: Clintons Anoint Clark:
"What if, as Christmas nears, the economy should tank and President Bush becomes far more vulnerable? Hillary would have to announce willingness to accept a draft. Otherwise, should the maverick Dean take the nomination and win, Clinton dreams of a Restoration die. "
Here's what happens when you spend too much time drinking the tainted kool-aid folks. Its either a partisan inspired article meant to drive wedges throughout the Democratic party, or a feverish "dream journal" entry that Safire accidently sent off instead of his NYTimes op-ed. You decide!
UPDATE: What Charles Taylor at Salon had to say.
This is such a doozy that the next time I pass by the corner of West 43rd Street in Times Square, I fully expect to see that Safire has staked out a piece of pavement down the block from the Black Israelites to alert passersby to the Clintons' evil scheme. (The LaRouche people have already claimed Union Square.)
All Evil Eminates from Moscow... err.. I Mean, Baghdad!
ajc.com | Opinion | Jay Bookman':
"Mylroie's explanation has found no support in the intelligence community, and in 2001, her credibility was strained further when she publicly suggested that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, convicted in the Oklahoma City bombing, might have been dupes acting at Saddam's behest. She also alleged that evidence of such a connection to Saddam had been suppressed for political reasons by President Clinton."
Mylroie's from the famed American Enterprise Institute. Now, you might think she's out there, but there are some juicy tidbits from the rest of the quoted article. (go read it!)
Cheney was on the board of AEI when the book was published
In the reprinted version there are blurbs of support from Perle and Wolfowitz
She thanks Wolfowitz for "kind enough to listen to this work presented orally and later to read the manuscript. "
The re-issued version has a forward written by James Woolsey
She also thanks John Bolton and Lewis Libby, now both in the White House
Its like a who's who of the of the pro war hawk crowd, who seem to have believed the "Saddam is the root of all evil" theory of the Universe. As if Satan keeps re-appearing on Earth and men with bad mustaches?
When We Hurt the Ones That Vote for Us
"We, family members and friends in support of bringing home the 129th, find this change of rules and the failure to give our soldiers the assurance that they will return home at the end of their 12 month in-country tour of duty unacceptable. The negative impact on our soldiers' morale as well as the impact on their families has already been felt."
At the next Presidential press conference (if there is one) I want to hear a reporter stand up and ask Mr. Bush, "Sir, have you ever been forced against your will from seeing your family for months at a time?"
Just curious what the answer would be, considering the man has had more vacations in the last two years than I have had in my lifetime.
Cancun, Where the Predictable Becomes Possible
Guardian Unlimited Politics | Comment | George Monbiot: A threat to the rich:
"For something else is now beginning to shake itself awake. The developing countries, for the first time in some 20 years, are beginning to unite and to move as a body.
Wow, reading through the hundreds of articles written about the Cancun "failure" it was hard finding a thought that best summerized what I see happening. It is quite amazing to see just how little issues of global trade get discussed here in the states. Its just not that big of an issue, or it wasn't until we saw our manufacturing based sucked dry faster than a hemophiliac at a mosquito farm.
I used to work in this little shopping complex in one of the richest areas of Dallas (Median household income: $149,389 Median house value: $685,700). Every once in a while I would walk about fifty yards down to the corner gas station, to get some fresh air and usually a drink. My favorite times visiting there were the days that an african man from Zambia (I think I remember that correctly) was working. He was studying business here in the states and would head back to his home to work. It was nice to speak to somebody that had heard of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, austerity programs and structural adjustment programs. He saw the United States very differently and verified many things that I had only been able to assume. In the developing world they see the west more as landlords and we're looking more and more like slumlords that even refuse to return the deposit for cooked up reasons. When we got you over a barrel why not steal your pants?
... and if you needed any more reason to love Radiohead (besides the genius of their music... ) there's Thom Yorke:
Increasingly the effects of such globalisation make it clear the only ones benefiting are the multinational corporations, who have the ear of our governments and are having their free trade cake and eating it. They make sure any rules affecting their "freedoms" are first on the agenda at the WTO.
And predictably there are a few people out there floating the idea that the WTO as an organization may be seeing the end of its usefulness... amazingly about the same time that the developing world is banding together to put the screws to the rich nations. Next time they show up to negotiate there may just be a sign on the sign: Sorry, Closed.
You Guess is as Good as Mine?
An Undiplomatic Display (washingtonpost.com):
"State Department types were taken aback last week to find that a longtime diplomatic photo exhibit along a busy corridor to the cafeteria had been taken down. The two dozen mostly grainy black and white shots were a historic progression of great diplomatic moments, sources recalled."
And they were replaced with?
a) This Modern World Cartoons
b) Photos of Bill Clinton
c) Bush family photos
d) Photos of Ground Zero
e) Photos of US Labor History
f) Looted treasure from Iraq
It's part of an effort to "spruce up the building . . . liven up the halls," one official said. There are other similar photos on other floors, we were told. The old photos are to be re-hung in that other corridor once it's painted.
answer in the comments.
Suprise, Its the Obvious!
Yahoo! News - New Terror Laws Used Vs. Common Criminals:
"PHILADELPHIA - In the two years since law enforcement agencies gained fresh powers to help them track down and punish terrorists, police and prosecutors have increasingly turned the force of the new laws not on al-Qaida cells but on people charged with common crimes."
Anyone see that one coming? what... everyone? Yeah, I guess it was prety obvious huh?
We have a close race now.... bigger threat to liberty? War on Terrorism or War on Drugs?
This week's Inhofe Watch is brought to us by Mike over at the incredibly versatile Okiedoke.
"Sen. Inhofe had plenty to say about Iraq at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week. And when Inhofe speaks, the media listens. They love to quote him, even when being attacked themselves. "
I've had quite a few customers at my store that have husbands serving in Iraq. I always ask about how long they plan on being away. The answer is always "we dont know". Sometimes there are babies, young, a few months old, growing up while their father's are overseas baking in the desert to make sure that Bush gets re-elected in November on a strong National Defense strategy.
Meanwhile I enjoy talking to the groups of Indians that visit Tulsa as they train to do accounting for IBM. They enjoy the shopping here in the States. They usually only stay a few weeks to a month. Invariably I enjoy meeting them and interacting with people that don't take things for granted like the average American. I automatically switch into my "ambassador of goodwill" personality. In the back of my minds I think "They are going to take American jobs, but they are good people, its not about us/them, workers in India versus workers in the United States, its about us, workers, being pitted against one another by forces that control both out destinies."
Tonight's blog soundtrack just happens to be The Postal Service. Damn you YAR!
Man the Tuxedos
Opus the Penguin Back In the Funny Business (washingtonpost.com):
"After eight years away from newspapers, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Berkeley Breathed is creating a new comic strip called 'Opus,' starring his beloved penguin of the same name. "
That's right, the comic artist that brought us Outland and Bloom Country is coming back. You have to wonder why...
"It was painful to sit through the war without a public voice."
oh yeah... that's why.
Now, if we could just get Bill Watterson to come back... (sigh)
The Philadelphia Daily News - The People Paper - WHY DON'T WE HAVE ANSWERS TO THESE 9/11 QUESTIONS?
I'm not familiar with this paper or its integrity. But what I think is most important to keep asking questions about what happened on Sept. 11th. I think its too easy to sketch a quick, politically useful story and leave it at that. We should keep looking for as much information as we can so the picture becomes clearer. If nothing else it will give us better insight into How? Why? and What can we do to stop it from ever happening again?
I feel though that this event may become another Kennedy Assasination, a mess of conspiracy theories and half truths.
No!!! Not the List!?
Kiss it, pal!: "Here's the list of organizations and people who can smooch my bum:"
Jim, at Unix, Music and Politics has started a "List" of people who, well... he said it best. So far we have ELF, Planned Parenthood and the RIAA. Two of those three groups can kiss my keisteras well. I'll let you figure out which ones.
The U.S.A. does not horde the wealth of numerous nations. Free enterprise created our wealth. We are the best country there is and that is how we got our wealth and power.
would you say that:
5 - I wholeheartedly agree with this statement
4 - Its true, for the most part
3 - I don't know, we're not the best, but we're not bad either.
2 - This is a overly simplistic view of the reality
1 - What a load of *$%^
Time for Some Rule Changes
Forbes.com: Poorest nations form new bloc at WTO talks:
"CANCUN, Mexico, (Reuters) - A group of 90 African, Asian and other poor nations formed a bloc on Friday to demand wide concessions on farm reform, adding pressure on rich nations at global trade talks.
This is a story worth following. In short, what's at stake is the entire notion of free trade. Will it fulfill its idealogical promise of opening doors that swing in both directions or will the the developing nations find themselves on teh outside looking in?
I know where the smart money will be.
We are the U.S. and we will not do anything that will harm our intersts in the least bit whatsoever. These countries who have worked the system to their advantage expect to get a concession out of America. It won't happen. Once there is any threat that an international organization works for anyone's advantage but the United States that organization will be abandoned and declared irrelavant.
Looking at the U.S. economy you see at least two glaring roadblocks to "globalized free trade" at least in the way it is being promoted. One is the issue of sovereignty, the other is the very mechanisms by which the U.S. regulates its own economy, farm subsidies and miltary contracts.
It should be beyond debate that the United States government has a very active role in the nation's economy. Think bankruptcy courts and federal deposit insurance for banks. In fact our presidential nominees go to great lengths to promote their economic policies. I laugh when anybody hurls the accusations of "wealth redistribution" at anyone. For indeed that is the very process that we undergo on a daily basis. We spend massive amounts to keep agriculture solvent and prices low. We rightly think that allowing food prices to fluctuate wildly would be detrimental to a stable economy. We also pour billions into military spending that serves two "beneficial" purposes. First, it employs thousands of people in what would be called a middle class status either directly or through contractors. Second, it provides a constant and growing market for technology and hardware.
Without this foundation, the nature of the U.S. economy will undergo radical changes, and I doubt most people would welcome those changes.
Why Does Krugman Hate the U.S. (aka George W. Bush)?
Exploiting the Atrocity
Yet it's almost certainly wrong to think that the political exploitation of 9/11 and, more broadly, the administration's campaign to label critics as unpatriotic are past their peak. It may be harder for the administration to wrap itself in the flag, but it has more incentive to do so now than ever before. Where once the administration was motivated by greed, now it's driven by fear.
Here's a little game we can play, its called "How to become a raging alcoholic in one election year". The rules are simple, take a shot every time Bush uses 9-11 to justify his policy du jour. If you're a part time player and just imbibe on the weekends it might be next years Republican National Convention hosted in New York a few days before the next anniversary before you have a full blown Betty Ford. Otherwise you'll be waking up with hangovers almost every day for the next year.
Now mind you, I dont recommend this, I was just trying to illustrate a point. In fact, an even better game to play would be to donate a dollar to a local charity each time Bush invokes 9-11 for political gains. It just might help make up for the bush economy we are suffering through. (oh wait... the RNC wanted me to remind you all that technically the recession started before Bush took office, thanks Ed.)
on a completely unrelated but not worth an entire new blog entry....
I visited a blog today that I found kinda annoying, mainly because the only thing that it did was reprint entire articles from various newspapers, mostly the NYT and the WashPo. Now, I can understand quoting a few lines to give your comments context, which is what I try to do, but really... dont reprint the whole article already!
ok, enough nagging, now go study your grammer.
Strife of Riley
"Yesterday, by a 2-to-1 margin, Alabama voters decisively rejected a tax reform package that Gov. Riley had endorsed.
The anti-tax juggernaut was victorious in Alabama while seemingly defeated in Oklahoma. My advice to Gov. Riley, next time make sure you have huge corporate handouts as the core of your tax increases. I mean even if they don't ever come to pass you can pass all the needed tax stuff under the cover of corporate welfare.
10 BILLION DOLLAR TAX INCREASE TO INDUCE MICROSOFT TO MOVE HEADQUARTERS TO ALABAMA!
in fine print...
In the event that Microsoft decides not to pick up and move, we'll only collect 1 Billion Dollars for education and other needed projects, namely the "staying out of bankruptcy fund".
in finer print...
Oh by the way, we'll be raising the limits of income tax exemption to the poverty line as dictated by common decency.
in even finer print...
So put that in your pipe and smoke it!
That's how its done in these here red states.
Sino the Times?
China and Major Powers Post-9/11::
"Prior to 9/11, relations between the world’s most powerful country and its most populous one were heading towards confrontation over a whole range of issues. As soon as President George W. Bush took office in January 2001, he telephoned every major world leader except President Jiang Zemin, a clear signal of how the Bush Administration felt about China, the “strategic competitor”."
For some reason I thought it was important to remind everybody that prior to the events of two year ago the Bush Administration was pushing hard to create friction and conflict with China. In my memory I remember clearly thinking it was a bad idea to pick a fight with China.
Sino-U.S. relations hit their lowest point in April 2001 when a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) pilot was killed after his jet fighter and an American navy EP-3 spy plane collided near Hainan Island. With talks on Chinese nuclear and missile proliferation to “rogue states” stalled, disputes over U.S. support for Taiwan persisting, and U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty with Russia despite China’s objections, the anti-terrorism campaign emerged as the only bright spot in relations.
Oh yeah, I remember now. There was a big standoff with lots of posturing! But that all came to and end once "things went haywire in NY" and now we have some weird relationship with China were both sides smile alot and try to make nice despite a long list of unresolved disputes.
Foreign Views of U.S. Darken Since Sept. 11:
"A Frenchman, Jean-Charles Pogram, 45, a computer technician, said: 'Everyone agrees on the principles of democracy and freedom, but the problem is that we don't agree with the means to achieve those ends. The United States can't see beyond the axiom that force can solve everything, but Europe, because of two world wars, knows the price of blood.' "
But what does he know right? The french... blah blah blah...
For many people, the issue is not so much the United States as it is the Bush administration, and what is seen as its arrogance. In this view, a different set of policies and a different set of public statements from Washington could have resulted in a different set of attitudes.
You can stick your head in the sand but American's have got to realize that when it comes to our standing in the world, we are slipping, and there's a reason, Bush. Its not just the man, who is a poor representative for the free world with his simple minded black and white rendering of the world that most people find remarkably short sighted but his administration, who are quite open about their imperial ambitions.
This next election we will not only be choosing our direction as a nation, but we will choose whether or not we will start to heal the wounds of the last four years.
Even Broken Clocks
Breaking Death's Grip: Thomas Friedman:
"But message to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: Palestinians are not leaving either, and your iron fist will not make them accept Israeli settlements or a truncated Palestinian state. If you think Oslo was a failure, look at your alternative. In three years, some 850 Israelis have been killed under your strategy. Yours and Hamas's are two failed strategies that add up to a human meat grinder. You want Israelis to believe they have no other choice, but they do. It is to use Israel's amazing inner strength to take a different set of Israeli actions, like really uprooting settlements, to stimulate a different set of Palestinian reactions, like controlling suicide bombers."
Really Tom? That sounds amazingly like common sense.
Amazon.com: A Glance: John Mayer
I picked up the latest John Mayer cd. I only just within the last few weeks started listening to him. I was very impressed with Room for Squares, a solid cd with great songwriting. I heard a small interview on All Things Considered where he played a few acoustic versons of songs off his latest. They announced that his new cd was coming out the next day, I was there to get it, and I haven't regretted this purchase one bit. Great songwriting, wonderful lyrics and singing, sweet guitar work, who could ask for more? Life is good when Heavier Things spins in the cd player....
Fresh Air: Paul Krugman
I heard someone say recently that we all believe that we perceive the world objectively, which got me thinking. Objective reality invariably gets filtered through our perceptions. I question my own ability to see the world clearly, without bias, which despite what people might think, is my ultimate goal.
It comforts me that Paul Krugman is out there trying hard to see the world in an objective way as well. He really strikes me as the last sane voice in the media. He speaks plainly. He has been attacked by all sides for his criticisms, and he harbors a deep disdain for the sacred cows that roam free in the political landscape. And that's why I trust him. I don't see him as a political operative like Franken or even Michael Moore. He doesnt receive his marching orders from anybody. He just hates it when people lie and cheat. That's not partisan folks!
Oklahoma's Newschannel 8 - American Airlines Thanks Tulsans For Vision 2025 PassageThis link may die soon...
In other words, Hey thanks for the free money!
It's hoped that the passage of Vision 2025 will help retain American Airlines' jobs in Tulsa as well as attract new ones as the airline seeks to close one of three maintenance bases.
So if I get this straight, they still might leave? And even if they do stay people in either KC or FW are going to lose their jobs? Oh well.
Pennies in the wind.
Newsday.com - Text of Bush Speech:
"And for America, there will be no going back to the era before September the 11th, 2001 -- to false comfort in a dangerous world. We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength -- they are invited by the perception of weakness."
No NO NO!!! Wrong. This my friends is at the heart of this administrations failures after Sept. 11th. We need not look any further than Isreal to see why this policy will backfire. Sharon's government has escalated the number of incursions and assasinations in its attempt to use strength to end violence. Have the suicide bombings stopped? Hardly. What happens instead is that you create further resolve amongst your adversaries. Despite our animalistic preference for brute physical force, it tends to be the worst response to most situations. Our mythologies are full of tales about underdogs overcoming insurmountable odds to succeed. Browse through the videos next time you're out. Rent braveheart. A band of scrappy fighters take on and defeat an evil power greater than themselves? Carried forward to victory by their own conviction of righteousness? Sound familiar? It should. Its a grand tradition that has been a staple of stories for centuries. Frodo, of Lord of the Rings marches across Mordor, not because he feels that Sauron is weak. In fact every sign points towards his inevitable defeat at the hands of Sauron's massive armies and overwhelming magic. But he marches on, believing that his decision rests not on whether he will succeed but whether the cause is right.
At what point will we rest in building our perception of strength? Apparently having the most powerful and well equipped miltary on the planet failed as a deterrent. So now we must be even more powerful and run around the globe toppling governments to prove our strength? But as we learn from the morality tales, no amount of opposition is too large for a foe that is fueled by his own sense of righteousness. And when that sense of righteousness is fueled by the perception of American aggression and dominance, our escalation of violence will only add to their convictions.
In fact, I seem to recall a particular religion that thrived despite being repressed by what was in that day and age the most powerful empire to have ever existed. But the early christians banded together in their sense of solidarity and perservered. The Roman Empire crumbled.
Changing Lanes Trailer
Human behavior has been well documented in plays, books, fables and artwork. I believe that its that study of human behavior that fuels human civilization and imparts on us collective wisdom.
Note: I have updated this post to delete a sentence in which I refer to "liberals". I broke one of my unofficial blogging rules by using that term. As I mentioned in my comments and I will repeat here, I have decided that the terms "liberal" and "conservative" have lost any and all usefulness. They have become so loaded that their very presence invites partisan vitriol. They have the affect of blinding the reader to all else mentioned and are therefore a distraction I will avoid as much as possible in the future. Thank you.
"Companies like Boeing, CITGO, AA etc create a vortex of economic development that reaches deep into all of our lives. Are they worth attracting, even with calculated incentives? Yes."
A vortex is an apt allusion, but I doubt we forsee the same kind of all-consuming maelstrom. I don't normally think Alfalfa Bill is off the mark, but I have to quibble (I quibble, therfore I blog?) with Bill on the benefits of an economic system based on large corporate employers as anchors. As is exemplified by the American shakedown, these big employers can be a fickle bunch, eager to use their pull on desperate cities to milk what they can. Do we really want to put our necks even further into this noose or do we dare to think beyond this shrinking loop? I don't think Tulsa will ever be equipped with the kind of money, infrastructure or natural advantage to play this game with bigger richer cities. And even if we succeed in creating this extensive web of small businesses that depend on the big corporate employer, what we would end up with is a city full of people that embody a protective mentality towards that industry, even when faced with the inevitablity of its failure.
What I fear most about this process is that once we become dependent on an industry like Boeing for our livelyhoods, we will fall in line with any proposals that seek to extend their reach. In the case of Boeing that would mean any increases in military spending that might positively affect Boeing's financial health. We would become a voting block motivated to expanding the wealth and power of corporations, an illness I think America at large already suffers from. Ourselves be damned, our communities be damned, for we have our own necks to think about if that means unchecked corporate power, so be it?
In general I was appalled that our Vision process has been hijacked by these corporate beggers with their hands out. And I've been turned off by the constant bleating by the "say yes" crowd that handing the keys of the city over to some greedy corporate interests is somehow "for our kids".
For what its worth, the other half of the vision 2025 plan is darn good, and seeing how we stand a slim to none chance of enticing Boeing, I'd say its almost worth appeasing American for the other projects that will see funding...
so, yes.. I'd vote for it. But I hope Boeing goes to hell, their execs would fit right in.
No Really, Its Good for You!
What was known about post-9/11 air:
"Tinsley’s report charges, in the crucial days after 9/11, the White House changed EPA press releases to “add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones.”"
Patterns of behavior?
Why all these changes? Tinsley said, “We were told that a desire to reopen Wall Street and national security concerns were the reasons for changing the press releases.”
A desire to reopen Wall Street?
I know I'm a little late seeing this.. but sheesh, I had to say something, and give this a little more play, because to my point of view this is consistent with the Bush administration's constant pandering to the elites at the expense of ordinary americans. And for all the mileage Bush is getting out of 9-11 (alternative energy source anyone?) it seems odd that he would take this risk and inflict even more suffering on the victims. But then again, people (the disposable kind, ie. the working class) never matter as actual humans but only as symbols in the battle for political power.
Now Entering Laboville has a few choice words on the subject, take it away..
While I am somewhat critical of the EPA for not standing its ground, I am livid at the White House, which played with MY health in the weeks after 9/11. As some of you know, I worked in the WTC and, after 9/11, was relocated to another office nearby. In part, my comfort in returning to the Wall Street area was based on reports from my own government that things were safe. But now it appears that cynical politicians in the White House, afraid of admitting that things were pretty bad (the report said that the desire to reopen Wall Street, and "national security concerns" were factors in the revisions), decided that I didn't need fundamental information about my own health.
Welcome to the meat grinder.
I had heard his site was hacked, and on the off-chance that there might be something worth reading posted there now, I visited. Unfortunately, he seems to be back, and so is the same recycled content.
Mars has numerous enormous vulcanos.
wait wait wait wait.... talk talk talk talk....
I uh.... watched the televised debate from NM. My few quick thoughts:
Mosely Braun - Nice, but she seemed to be just parroting alot of the same old liberal rhetoric without a lot of nuance. But she has a good stance on most issues.
In short, dump the Senators. They were there when all the horrible crap they're ranting about happened and they didnt do anything about it, so why whould we think they'll do anything when their president? I liked Kucinich, which I'm sure confirms your worst fears about me. But its not like his positions are going to be great fundraising slogans. So he really seems to believe what he says, which is refreshing, even if America is not even close to listening right now. He'll look like a genius years from now, but he won't be president. Dean is a good compromise, we can only hope that his "people" that he's attracted in droves can affect real change.
That was short right? Sharpton was absent, and Graham was a non-entity.
I'm Sorry Hal, I Can't Let You Search For That
Google Web Search Features
ask google anything... Meaning of Life?
(6 * 4) + 2 = ?
Bwahahaha.. I am Google, bow before me!
Face, meet Egg
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Richard Perle: Thank God for the death of the UN:
March 21, 2003:
"Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. He will go quickly, but not alone: in a parting irony, he will take the UN down with him. Well, not the whole UN. The 'good works' part will survive, the low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies will remain, the chatterbox on the Hudson will continue to bleat. What will die is the fantasy of the UN as the foundation of a new world order. As we sift the debris, it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions. "
How much help the UN might give : The Christian Science Monitor
Sept 4, 2003: (6 months later...)
In the halls and offices of UN headquarters in New York, the US has already begun pressing a case for greater UN involvement in Iraq. A draft Security Council resolution would establish a multinational occupation force under US military command. It also invites the Iraqi Governing Council to submit a timetable for elections to Security Council members, pursuant to a possible UN role overseeing this electoral process.
Understandably, the bleating debators are reluctant to send their troops into the mess that the United States created. We're back to shifting responsibility. Other nations will get involved out of their sense of right. But we have shown our allies and our enemies the limits of American power. And we have proven the relevance not by our words, but by our actions.
Meetup: Dean in 2004 Meetup Photos
People in Tulsa gather to talk about Dean and his campaign. Some pictures.
Go Ahead, You've Earned It!
You know how every week or two you get a set of checks from your credit card companies reminding you that you have money that needs to be borrowed? Ocassionally they even send you a check with your name on the "Pay to the order to:" line and an amount filled out in the amount box. Now, you know that that check is not free money, that once you cash that check you will be liable for the money you borrowed.
So how is it that tax payers can get a tax rebate while we accrue debt? Aren't the latest tax cuts the federal government's lame attempt to buy us off with our own borrowed money? Its gonna have to be paid off! Duh.
Do they think we're stupid? The credit card companies do...
Bright Lights, Dirty Spoons
LILEKS (James) The Bleat:
"I was standing in line at Target - and you might ask, when aren’t I standing in line at Target? Well, I haven’t made a run in three weeks. My wife is still at home, and that’s upset the Precious Routine. But we were down to the emergency bar of soap - either very old Lava or a very fresh brick - and so off I went with Gnat. "
Everybody and their dog quotes Lileks, so up 'til now I haven't actually wandered over there to take a peak. But Bitweever pulled up this quote about a Target experience. I just had to put my two cents worth into the cup.
Reading Lilek's short ruminations about an imaginary competitor that would swoop in and steal him away from Target was an insight into the consumer mind. One that I have to understand but cannot share.
Actually WORKING in a retail environment you quickly realize that the carefully orchestrated color schemes and slogans are merely a thin veneer over the same machinery that works everywhere else. As employees we are expected to pretend that our company is unique and special, but memories of your last company's similar claims makes that a bit hard to swallow. Its like working in a restaraunt, watching the same food company that supplies all the other restaraunts in the town pull up to your back door and unload the same white boxes with blue lettering. You notice the silverwear that never really gets clean but gets clean enough for the dimned light of the dining room. Occasionally, you witness an epiphany similar to the one described by James Lileks where for a brief moment the willingness to accept the illusions breaks down and they look at the dingy floor, the chipped counters, the dusty shelves and notice that despite the cheerful paint and colorful uniforms they're buying the same products here as there.
As a facilitator of the buying process (ie. sales staff) it is my often explicitly stated goal to help consumers create illusions about how a product will positively affect their lives, by either making tasks easier, more exciting, faster or cooler. You quickly learn to recognize two classes of shoppers; those that are there to get the tools they need to accomplish a task, and those that are looking for some vague, yet to be determined product that will bring a little excitement to their lives. I prefer the former, they are awake, aware, the latter is half asleep and all too often preyed upon by salesmen that have less scrupples than I do.
On this end of things I constantly marvel at the ability of consumers to transform their shopping experiences into acts of suspended disbelief. The music plays, people are moving all around you and products beckon from the shelves. They say that you exist in a semi-conscious state while you shop, and I believe that. As I work I navigate around people that float around in zombie-like states. The employees are cowboys amongst the herd, helping shoppers get a quick buying fix before we send them out the doors where they will re-awake and go about life as usual. During the heights of the holiday rush we sit around in breakrooms and wonder about the seemingly endless sea of consumers that seem unable to grasp even the most simple of concepts. Stores promise to suspend the laws of reality, if only for the short moments you spend shopping there, and when they fail a pact is broken and the consumer awakes from his stupor.
And he goes off in search of a shiny new illusion.
Open up a competitor with a cooler color scheme, a comparable pricing structure and a promise to open up another line as soon as the customers start to stack up, and I’ll abandon Target in a second.
White House Approved Departure of Saudis After Sept. 11, Ex-Aide Says:
"WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 — Top White House officials personally approved the evacuation of dozens of influential Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, from the United States in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when most flights were still grounded, a former White House adviser said today."
Damning, very damning. An article in Vanity Fair is about to hit stands on Thursday (umm, today)
The article depicts an elaborate but hurried evacuation carried out within a week of the hijackings in which private planes picked up Saudis from 10 cities. Some aviation and bureau officials said they were upset by the operation because the government had not lifted flight restrictions for the general public, but those officials said they lacked the power to stop the evacuation, the article says.
Yes, yes, we know the Saudis have huge neon signs pointing their direction flashing "Terrorist links!" and "Terrorists from here!" but... we don't hear much about that from the Whitehouse as they run around Iraq looking for ANYTHING... ANYTHING.... linking Saddam and Osama.
Blessed are the Taxed
Watching tonight's edition of Nightline I was fascinated with the story of Alabama governor Bob Riley, who has, in my opinion finally realized that living the life of a good christian has more to do with caring for the poor than catering to the rich; a concept that I always thought wildly inconsistent with my christian upbringing. He has apparently made the oulandish arguement that taxing the poorest of the poor is unbiblical.
"Jesus says one of our missions is to take care of the least among us," the governor told the Birmingham News after announcing his plan. "We've got to take care of the poor."
What a novel concept! But for some reason the idea that government, as an institution of the people should serve to help people, not just those that pad the campaign coffers has turned Riley's conservative "family values" supporters against him. Bob Riley's decision to raise taxes based on his position as governor has raised the hackles of the Christian Coalition. But hey, why should the christian coalition give a rat's ass about taxes? Taxes? I mean, its not like Riley has declared christianity to be illegal. He hasn't decided to ban churches. Hardly, the man prays all the freakin' time and he even brought his own Bible to his inauguration. But apparently, according to the report, the recent deaths of family members has taught him that there is more to life than your political career when you could be gone tommorow.
After watching the christian coalition of Alabama's slideshow about taxes, full of figures and charts showing the revenue, budgets and tax trends I was left with the question. What does this have to do with God? I mean, I understand the Roy Moore, ten commandments thing. But it seems that their whole position boils down to TAXES BAD. Which is fine as a political position. But there is more biblical arguements to be made for Gov. Riley's position than for the CC's.
What we see is that some of the right wing christian organizations are merely tools of the wealthy elite that are pressing their footsoldiers into service to protect their riches. No suprise there. A careful study of the bible and the actual words of Jesus can't help but lead you to the conclusion that some of the major "christian" organizations in America are nothing more than tax-exempt arms of the elites. They argue not for peace, love and forgiveness but hate, division and the politics of slander.
Its a shame really. I still have a great deal of respect for the teaching of Jesus, but the institution of religion has gone far astray.
He's so Heavy
Today for a brief moment during lunch I watched a press conference by Sen. Tom Harkin promoting his Amendment to a Bush proposal that would change the overtime rules. The new rules would expand the definitions of some jobs to allow them to be exempt from overtime requirements.
I watched with an odd mixture of repsect and scorn for Harkin. On one hand I thought he was doing the right thing, standing up for worker protections and stopping what I see as a clearly harmful proposal. On the other I thought to myself "Let the bastards hang themselves out to dry, why do you have to go and save their asses?" Sure enough he'll stop this awful proposal (that umm... nobody was asking for?) and nothing too bad will happen. Bush gets of scott free. The economy may indeed recover due in thanks to the hard work of other people to negate the effects of Bush's runaway spending and reckless tax cutting. Bush gets the credit for handing out free money and taking out Saddam Hussein, while teachers deal with larger class loads, states make due with less and thousands of soldiers work their asses off to keep Iraq from turing into a quagmire.
Its called shifting the responsibility, making others be the "heavy" or the "spoilsport", making them clean up the mess and do the unpopular things that need to be done. Like when one parent has to "lay down the law" because the other refuses to be seen as the mean parent. We're a little like the kids of a divorced couple, with the republicans playing the cool dad that always gives us expensive gifts and takes us places mom would never approve of. While the mom has to work two jobs to make up for delinquent child support, never gets to buy us cool stuff and never lets us stay out late.
When watching coverage of Iraq I feel extremely frustrated. This was an instance where Bush got what he wanted despite the desperate warnings of people that knew better. Of course, now its getting messier and messier each day as we learn that the rosy predictions of our easy mission in Iraq turned you to be nothing more than the demented fantasy of Donald Rumsfeld. But I can't feel happy about being right. People are dying. I've run into several young men who were getting their things ready for tours in Afghanistan or Iraq. They are the ones paying the price. Not me, not Bush and not any of the squaking war hawks that bought the pipe dream being pandered before the invasion.
Bush gets to let go of the wheel of a speeding car, and when somebody else grabs the wheel and steers us back on the road, he just smiles and says "see, nothing bad happened, re-elect me for president!"
What a jerk.
Just Don't Celebrate at Work
For labor day, I put in a nice full shift. I'll get time and a half for the duty but I couldn't help but spend a few minutes with a quite visable smirk thinking of a few devilish ways of celebrating labor day at work; wishing all the managers a "Happy Labor Day!" or leading an impromptu rendition of "Solidarity Forever!"
But I thought better of it. For besides being a holiday that we all recognize, do we even really celebrate the true meaning of labor day anymore? And would you get "fired" for doing so at work? Odd enough that on a day set aside for honoring the labor activists of the past and the accomplishments that have improved the lives of working people I know darn good and well that any and all talk of Unions would put me on a short list of people with one foot out the door.
Tonight, Fox new's local broadcast did a puff piece about employees at Target that "are just lucky to have a job". They are more than willing to put in longer hours and request extra shifts for even holiday hours, because when put over the barrell people will do what they need to do to survive. They followed that report with a short piece that explained to viewers that president Bush "believes" that his tax cuts will create jobs.
Hey thanks... Happy Labor Day to you too!
Today's post brought to you in stereo by John Mayer's, Room Enough for Squares, and the sound of rain.
Dissolve into Evergreens