Thursday, March 31, 2005

What in the F*cking F*ck??

A right-wing warmonger with a proven track record of utter ineptitude and rampaging destruction with no development experience and no training as an economist is going to head one of the world's most important development organizations???

Ech, what do economists know about poverty and stuff anyway?
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner and a former World Bank chief economist, said: "Choosing the right general in the war against poverty will not assure victory, but choosing the wrong one surely increases the chances of failure."
Oh.
Well, I'm sure there weren't that many big names criticizing Wolfotwitz's appointment.
Greenpeace, ActionAid, and Oxfam were among other critics.
Well, okay, yeah, but somebody thinks Wolfotwitz can do a decent job, right?
But World Bank critic Allan Meltzer, who chaired a US congressional committee on the bank in 2000, said Mr Wolfowitz was well qualified for the job.

"We don't need a development person, there are plenty of people at the bank who do that," Mr Meltzer told the BBC News website.

"What the bank needs is focus: how many children are inoculated against measles every year? What have we done to bring water to the villages?"
Oh, I see. The person who thinks Comby McSpitshine™ is "qualified" for the job is a critic of the World Bank in the first place. Uh hunh. Riiight. And this bright bulb thinks that there are pleeeeeenty of development people to go around [Pshaw, who needs 'em? Like, whatever, it's just a development organization, what could be so hard?], and Wolfotwitz is there to bring focus.

Hahahhaahhahahhahaahahah! Focus!! Focus like he brought to the Iraq War? Hahaha ... ha ... heh ... erm ... sob.

BUSH ADMITS TO SOME MISTAKES IN IRAQ

From wire services

WASHINGTON D.C. - In an unexpectedly lengthy and circumspect news conference at the White House today, President Bush admitted that some of the evidence that led the U.S. to go to war in Iraq may have been "embellished" and he announced plans to withdraw the bulk of U.S. troops within the next 12 to 18 months.

What was expected to be a 20-minute news conference that focused primarily on domestic issues, particularly Social Security, turned into a nearly 55-minute encounter than dealt with a wide range of subjects, including some of the most controversial policies of Bush's administration.

In light of news that the Ukraine would be pulling it's troops out of Iraq in the next year, a reporter asked the President if the United States felt confident in scaling back it's military forces in Iraq anytime soon. "Let me answer that by saying that first and foremost, we remain in Iraq to secure democracy and help keep the peace. But I've had talks with Condi, Rumsfeld and our top commanders and I can see a time, over the next 12 to 18 months, where we can begin to give some more of our responsibilities to the local Iraqi army and police and then gradually begin to bring our reservists home. They have fought admirably, they have defended democracy well and they deserve a chance to return home to their families in the near future."

When told that this was in contradiction to recent statements indicating that U.S. troops would be in Iraq for the long haul, President Bush replied that our nation's foreign policy was "evolving," and that it wouldn't be the first time that we've had to adjust after making mistakes in our policy towards Iraq.

"At first we believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we believed that Saddam may have even kept some in Baghdad itself," the President said. "But looking at the evidence more closely we realized that there were flaws and even outright errors in the intelligence. But we had to go forward in Iraq anyway, because people were suffering and we knew that Saddam still posed a threat to the region. That's why after the invasion, we changed the message to more of one about liberation, instead of focusing on the weapons of mass destruction which may or may not have been there."

Elsewhere during the press conference, President Bush also said that it was tougher going on Social Security reform than he thought it would be, especially since "people aren't really buying the numbers on when the program will go insolvent." President Bush said his administration was working on making up new numbers and hoped to have those out by the middle of May.

The President also took time to praise Condoleeza Rice's diplomatic efforts around the globe. Curiously, his comments took on a strangely personal, almost intimate tone. "Condi has been great for America, great for this administration and great for me," the President said somewhat wistfully. "There's no finer woman in this country than Condoleeza Rice and I think she's going to prove to be the best Secretary of State this nation has ever seen, no disrespect meant to what's-his-name from the first term." --

Happy April Fools Day. If only President Bush were really that entertaining and forthright...

Peace.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I WAS WRONG...

The sorry spectacle of the Terri Schiavo case has been played out in the state and Federal courts, in the mainstream media and even on the floor of the U.S. Senate and in the White House for the last two months and it has seemed clear to many progressive writers and commentators that the Bush Administration and the GOP-dominated Senate has been bending over backwards to intervene in what appears to be a clear case of an individual's right to die, or at the very least, to euthanize someone who is in a vegetative state and is never going to get better, someone who had unwittingly become an unconsciable burden to her family and loved ones. How dare our Federal government yield to the whims of the Right t0 Lifers and far religious right on this issue when they should have no legal right to interfere?

The only thing wrong with this synopsis is that it is both right and wrong. The Schiavo case is far more complicated--and more sinister--than that.

"How can this be?", you might reasonably ask. Well, the problem is that--once again--the mainstream media has failed to do its job to report the story in a thorough and balanced fashion. Recent polls indicate that the vast majority of Americans believe that the President and the Federal courts have overstepped their responsibilities in the Schiavo matter. But how many of those polled would change their mind if they knew the following:

--That it has never been definitively determined by medical officials whether or not Terri Schiavo really is in "a persistent vegetative state."

--That Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, refuses to allow doctors to conduct more tests to determine the exact state of her incapacity.

--That Mr. Schiavo is currently living with another woman, has two kids by this woman and would like to marry her legally, something he can never do as long as Terri is still alive.

--That merely disconnecting Terri's feeding tube, if she is in fact NOT in a persistent vegetative state, may be tantamount to murdering her via cruel and unusual punishment.

These are four indisputable facts from the case. Want to read more? Check out Nat Hentoff's excellent essay in this week's Village Voice. Even if you don't agree with all of his analysis, it was certainly eye-opening to see just how much information has been left out by the mainstream media or spun by Michael Schiavo's lawyer.

Of course, one problem is that the Right to Lifers have jumped on this case as a cause celebre and they have been twisting its implications to suit their political agenda. Also, if a person doesn't leave a living will or some kind of clear legal document as to their intentions if they should become incapacitated, then they will become prey to anybody in their family who may want to disrespect or misinterpret their intentions for whatever selfish reasons. Terri Schiavo doesn't deserve this fate of course (none of us does), but this is one of those areas where the law is woefully lacking. Modern medicine continues to be way ahead of legal precedent. And Terri Schiavo can't tell us what she wants, so mouthpieces on both sides that don't have her best interests at heart are speaking for her.

Maybe this is not a case that is suitable for the Federal government to intervene in. It certainly stands as counter to what Republicans have always claimed as their preference for individual rights and smaller government. But before we assume this is just a basic civil rights issue and that Terri Schiavo should be allowed to die, ask yourself the following question:

Is it euthanasia or is it murder?

I admit that I was wrong because I didn't have all the facts. If only the media would get around to reporting the whole story, more of us could make an informed opinion.

Peace...

Monday, March 28, 2005

25 THINGS THAT BREAK MY HEART

I've been a long time in the wilderness with a lot on my mind. Here's my list of 25 Things That Break My Heart:

1. The sound of children crying out of loneliness, pain or discomfort.

2. When my girlfriend cries.

3. When politicians shamelessly grandstand at the expense of our freedom and a person's individual choice (see the Schiavo case).

4. Lost puppies and kittens.

5. Anybody I know who suffered a brain trauma or a disease like Alzheimers, when you can remember the person they were as compared to who they are now.

6. When people blame teachers for the declining quality of the public schools while they hop into their SUV's and drop their kids off at a private school in the suburbs.

7. Oil spills.

8. When I read a poem by Pablo Neruda and realize I will never, ever, write a poem that good.

9. Teenagers raising babies.

10. The realization that almost everything George Orwell and Aldous Huxley wrote about the future has, or soon will, become horrifyingly true.

11. The knowledge that George W. Bush is our President.

12. (from 11) The fact that at least 50 percent of the United States is not only not horrified by that fact, but actually thinks it's a good idea.

13. When long friendships end for no good reason.

14. Knowing that Africa is the richest continent on Earth but that colonialism, racism and tribalism have left it the most impoverished continent on Earth for over 200 years.

15. When a team in any sport makes a thrilling comeback only too fall justthisshort at the end.

16. Seeing little girls, six and younger, enrolled in beauty pageants.

17. Knowing that in much of the Muslim world, women are treated as second or third class citizens.

18. Knowing that in these "liberalized, free" United States we've never had a female president and women make 68 cents for every dollar a man is paid.

19. Pedophiles who molest again and again and again. If they can't be cured, why are they allowed to live in society?

20. Seeing young men and women going off to Iraq, knowing that 1 in 5 will suffer some permanent psychological scarring, 1 in 10 will be seriously wounded and 1 in 1000 will probably be killed.

21. Knowing that the administration that sent these people into harm's way continues to cut their benefits when they return, find ways to extend their tours of duty while there and fails to provide adequate protection and armament in the field.

22. Watching one insipid reality or "celebrity documentary" show after another premiere on the tube while writers and performers with real talent suffer in obscurity and never get their shot.

23. Every other story that came out of the December 26 tsunami (the one thing for which my birthday will now probably be forever known).

24. Looking at that part of the skyline where the World Trade Center used to be.

25. Willful ignorance.

What breaks your heart? Write in with some suggestions...

Peace.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

What Happened to Real Republicans?

A damn fine question, really. L.A. Heberlein takes it up in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

To wit:
When I was a Teenage Republican, all Republicans knew the 10th Amendment by heart and Republicans resisted the increasing power of the central government. Now Republicans leap over one another to make the federal government ever more powerful. It is Republicans at the federal level who now want to tell states whether they can allow medical marijuana or assisted suicide, or even who can have a driver's license. They want to tell the states who can get married. Imagine a Republican of my youth thinking the federal government should dictate policy to local school boards.

When I was a boy, Republicans cherished personal liberty. Creating secret no-fly lists and spy-on-your-neighbor programs, turning medical records over to police, holding people without trial in hidden military compounds, saying it's legal to torture them -- that's how we thought only Communists would behave.

So what does "Republican" mean now? Hysterical moralist? Meddler in deeply held personal affairs? Dictator of religious instruction (not plural)? Anti-science heretic? Deficit maker? War lover?

Will the real Republicans please stand up?

(via Scaramouche)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Reverse Frank Luntz

The Center for American Progress has read Frank Luntz's 160-page playbook (so you don't have to). They cut through the crap and left you with this one-pager, you lucky duckies.

Par example, on the Economy:
• Talk about the economy using “facts and figures.”

• Talk about the overall size of Bush’s proposed tax cut.

• Describe how repealing the estate tax protects America’s wealthiest families.

• Talk about the economy without bringing up 9/11.

• Recall how Bill Clinton produced balanced budgets in the late 1990s.

I love the idea that talking about "facts and figures" is the best method of being the opposite of a conservative strategist. Ha.

Now, get out there and put 'em to use! Save some poor Republicans from voting for this misguided crap. When they're able to go to a doctor, exercise their civil liberties, benefit from job security and protection, breathe clean air, put their children through school, attain retirement security, and enjoy our beautiful national parks, they'll thank you.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

2005 National Conference for Media Reform -- Be There!

Looks like we're going to have to head to St. Louis for the National Conference for Media Reform. Roooooad trip!

The conference is sponsored by Free Press, "a national nonpartisan organization working to increase informed public participation in crucial media policy debates, and to generate policies that will produce a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system with a strong nonprofit and noncommercial sector." Sounds good so far.

Conference organizers seem to have covered most topics of concern:
Panels and workshops at the conference will cover topics including:

* Media policy 101
* Media reform activism 101
* Case studies in local organizing
* What we have won -- how past media activism has made a difference
* International perspectives on media policy solutions
* News, information and corporate media
* Media ownership
* The Telecom Act of 2005
* Policies for advancing independent media
* Media literacy for media reform
* Media justice
* Localism and diversity in radio
* Public broadcasting
* Cultural diversity and free trade
* Media accountability: policy and activism
* Broadening access to the Internet
* Media policy & racial justice
* Labor & Media reform
* Advertising and commercialism
* Copyright & intellectual property
* Globalizing the media reform movement
* Fundraising for media reform
* Organizing around cable franchise renewals
* Challenging broadcast license renewals
* Media monitoring & accountability
* Citizen pressure and media policy

I'd be curious to sit in on the "International Perspectives on Media Policy Solutions" panel. And lord knows we need a "Media Accountability: Policy and Activism" panel, not to mention getting familiar with the Telecom Act of 2005. Though, I hate to nitpick, but where is the "F*ck You, Gr*ver N*rquist, Eat Our Media Revolution Dust" panel?

Friday, March 04, 2005

Bill O'Reilly: Afraid of a Hyperlink

Just when you thought it impossible that O'Lielly could be any more of a horse's ass, his lawyers send a threatening cease and desist letter to a website that had the audacity to link to his column. Link. To. His. Column.

[popping popcorn for the show]

This is rich. Go give the News Hounds some love.

(via Sivacracy)

New Poll Finds Bush Priorities Are Out of Step With Americans

Well, lookie here. New Poll Finds Bush Priorities Are Out of Step With Americans

File Under:
Duh.
You Reap What You Sow.
The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost.
Look! It's Reality!
Americans say President Bush does not share the priorities of most of the country on either domestic or foreign issues, are increasingly resistant to his proposal to revamp Social Security and say they are uneasy with Mr. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the retirement program, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

[...snip...]

On Social Security, 51 percent said permitting individuals to invest part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's plan, was a bad idea, even as a majority said they agreed with Mr. Bush that the program would become insolvent near the middle of the century if nothing was done. The number who thought private accounts were a bad idea jumped to 69 percent if respondents were told that the private accounts would result in a reduction in guaranteed benefits. And 45 percent said Mr. Bush's private account plan would actually weaken the economic underpinnings of the nation's retirement system.

Re: the emphasis, hmm. Seems that if you -- oh, I don't know -- give people information (!!!), they tend to think the preznit's "ideas" stink. Yep. They're a load of horseshit if anybody actually knows what's going on. Note to WH: more Newspeak. The proles are on to you.

In a sign of the political obstacles confronting the White House, a majority of those surveyed said they would support raising the amount of income subject to Social Security payroll tax above its current ceiling of $90,000, an idea floated by Mr. Bush but shot down by Republican Congressional leaders. Yet there is strong resistance to other options available to Mr. Bush and lawmakers to repair the system, in particular to raising the retirement age or making participation voluntary.

Such hackery! Such unmitigated hackery. Are raising the retirement age or making participation the ONLY options available to the preznit?? I think not. Oh, poor preznit. Blocked at all turns. Hey, I know! How about he offer a decent, judicious, prudent plan! Just one. Surely he can manage that.

Thankfully, people are somehow resisting the bullshit.
Notwithstanding Mr. Bush's argument that citizens should be given more control over their retirement savings, almost four out of five respondents said it was the government's responsibility to assure a decent standard of living for the elderly.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Ladies First?

Amnesty International, in their new report, "Decades of Suffering, Now Women Deserve Better," seems to feel that the ladies may not be getting a fair shake in the new "liberty" and "freedom" that "we" are "bringing" to "the Iraqi people." Sigh.
Women and girls in Iraq live in fear of violence as the conflict intensifies and insecurity spirals. Tens of thousands of civilians are reported to have been killed or injured in military operations or attacks by armed groups since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The lawlessness and increased killings, abductions and rapes that followed the overthrow of the government of Saddam Hussain have restricted women’s freedom of movement and their ability to go to school or to work. Women face discriminatory laws and practices that deny them equal justice or protection from violence in the family and community. A backlash from conservative social and political forces threatens to stifle their attempts to gain new freedoms. The general lack of security has forced many women out of public life, and constitutes a major obstacle to the advancement of women’s rights.

Friends, let's please actually do something good for the Iraqi people. It is women who take care of and educate children, foster families, maintain their communities. If we act on behalf of women, ensuring their protection and support, we act on behalf of everyone.

And while you're at it, join Amnesty International. Make a donation. Act now for human rights.

IT'S THE OIL, STUPID

Oh Sure, We're Not Going To Attack Iran...

As the Iraqi insurgency continues on, killing dozens more every day, sinking our troops even further into quagmire despite the recently hailed Iraqi elections, it is important to remember the real reason the U.S., led by Dubya and his neocon-men, were hell bent for leather to go into Iraq in the first place--not W.M.D's, nor regime change, but oil and a misguided sense of loyalty to Israel. Yes, the same Israel that spied on us in the 1950's and used that stolen intelligence to form the basis for the nuclear weapons program that they now "may or may not have". (Oh the rich ironies...the United States would never invade Israel to deter their nuclear weapons program and we KNOW they have the weapons since we tacitly and sometimes directly helped them develop it.)

For a terrific analysis of the current foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as a possible preview of horrors to come, please do yourself a favor and check out this dispatch from Ray McGovern, a former CIA officer and presidential advisor who lays out exactly what it is that Dubya and his handlers have in mind for the next four years and beyond. It's why "Peace Now" should be more than a slogan and why nothing less than our children's future is at stake.