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January 31, 2005

Initial Reactions to the Younger Women's Task Force Meeting

The National Coalition of Women's Organizations is sponsoring a task force to "provide a collective voice for the younger generation..." to "ensure that NCWO's policy work is intergenerational in focus, that there is continuous dialogue between generations, and that a new generation of NCWO leadership is developed."

What is NCWO? It's a DC bureaucracy created to be a political voice for women's groups across the country. The US Section of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom is a member organization and I am a member of WILPF. I found out about their YWTF conference through a fellow WILPF member and WILPFers provide the money necessary for me to register and travel to the conference. (YWTF also gave me a partial travel stipend.)

I fear that many of the DC organizers of YWTF dislike me or think I dislike them. I say this because one of the things I was told to do at the conference was to always speak my mind (it was a prerequisite for some of my funding). So, I kept asking process questions and refused to back down on my policy positions. I think people took my criticism personally and I have to admit that at times I got frustrated and may have made a personal attack or two. (In particular, I regret telling a group of individuals that clearly none of them were transgender, so how do they think they can speak for the transgender community.)

Personally, I was offended by some of the things that happened this weekend. First, the address of the event wasn't clearly stated on the materials we received prior to the conference. I stayed with friends b/c we were asked to do that to cut back on hotel costs. I showed up at George Washington University and spent 45 minutes in the snow and cold searching for the meeting location. When my phone calls to the organizers were finally returned and I got to the meeting location, I was immediately asked to fill out forms instead of being allowed to take off my coat and get a cup of coffee.

Next I was offended by being asked to state what I do for a living. Perhaps this just sounds like normal introductory material to you. The majority of the people in the room were either students or worked for nonprofits. I felt like there was a bias against people who work in for-profit environments. I also think my job title has nothing to do with my activism. Finally, the introductions upset me because it appeared all of the conference participants were either working towards a college degree or already had one. That doesn't create a very diverse younger women's movement. Furthermore, when I attended an inter-generational dinner I was told by an older woman that I would never be taken seriously as a glorified secretary. (I explained that I am currently working in a position basically as a glorified secretary because I spent about a year trying to get a paid position at a nonprofit and was unsuccessful in my job search. I also told her that I do my activism in a volunteer capacity as a member of the national board of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. All of my experience was devalued by this women who thinks I will never get anywhere being myself.)

I realized something this weekend. I have been an activist for 15 years. I have been a leader of activist organizations and planning conferences for 15 years. I am not an individual who can simply be grateful for the opportunity to meet other people. My understanding of the issues - both structurally and philosophically - is too deep for me to simply sit and be a good follower in any organization.

I don't think I like the bureaucracy they're creating with YWTF. Nevertheless, I'm excited about the opportunity to meet other younger activists. I've already made some great connections and I'm sure I'll continue to communicate with particular participants in the YWTF Conference whether or not I continue with YWTF.

Posted by cj at 10:36 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 28, 2005

random article for a cold friday

Today's Papers pointed out this WaPo fashion alert from Robin Givhan. Apparently, at yesterday's gathering of world leader's to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Aushwitz, "The vice president, however, was dressed in the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower."

The picture is truly priceless.

Posted by cj at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

Female Candidates on Provincial Level in Iraq

Today's Boston Globe features an article by Thanassis Cambanis titled "Iraq's female candidates raise voices before vote." It's all well and good that the US-written constitution mandates that 1/3 of candidates be female (not clear why it's only 1/3), but the reality is that the majority of the female candidates are fighting each other for provincial offices, leaving national power to males in their parties. This is not exactly the same as having gender equity. Nor do I believe it is an accurate implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.

In other Iraq news, the USG spent $92 million on a GOTV for Iraqi expatriates and only 10% of eligible voters in the US and 25% worldwide registered. What a great return on investment. Full deets from Paul Richter, Alissa Rubin, Maggie Farley, Jean Pasco, and Elise Castelli at the LAT. The article has an extremely different tone from the "we're so grateful to vote!!" stories I recently heard on Morning Edition on NPR.

Posted by cj at 3:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2005

This Week, This Week BLOWS

The chattering class just got done chattering about Harvard President Summers' recent comments that women can't learn math and science as well as men. They laughed at each other's quick turn of phrase. And they chided the liberal mob for being so harsh on the poor president that he was forced to issue several "Soviet-style" apologies. Gee, it's so nice that even the FEMALE commentator couldn't stand up for the abilities of her sisters.

Again, I ask you - if these "scientists" were saying that Asian folks have a greater innate ability at math and science than white folks would we all roll over and agree simply because they're scientists? Give me a frickin break. The great scientific brains of America can't even figure out how the drugs they pump into us fix depression (nor will they even admit the fact that those drugs might cause you to kill yourself) so how the hell can we trust them to figure out how male and female brains differ? And does that mean that queer brains don't fit in their neat little dichotomy? Then, what makes a brain queer? Flagrant homosexual relations? Or maybe just intense homoerotic desire? Please, stop standing up for bad science.

Posted by cj at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Your Tax Dollars Fund Rummy's Spy Network

WaPo ledes today with investigative journalist Barton Gellman's article, "Secret Unit Expands Rumsfeld's Domain: New Espionage Branch Delving Into CIA Territory".

Some basic reasons for opening up a secret spy shop:
1. Less Congressional oversight of DOD than the CIA.
2. Rummy has personal control instead of relying on the CIA or DNI (Director of National Intelligence, the guy who is supposed to eventually control "all" US intel work.)
3. DOD is "less risk averse" than the CIA. (Meaning they're okay with having their people killed in the line of duty.)
4. Keeping it secret reduces public scrutiny and could avoid the government being attached to embarrasing and notorious sources. (AKA criminals willing to spy for the USG.)

Scariest quote, from Assistant Secretary of Defense Thomas O'Connell, who oversees special operations policy:

One scenario in which Pentagon operatives might play a role, O'Connell said, is this: "A hostile country close to our borders suddenly changes leadership. . . . We would want to make sure the successor is not hostile."
Let's take a wild guess, shall we? Raise your hand if you think O'Connell is referring to Cuba.

Okay, everyone can put their hands down now.

Bonus points for naming other Latin American countries that could be described in these terms.

Posted by cj at 7:09 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Venezuelan Government Now Owns a Paper Mill

I was first tipped off to this story from a Marxist article that was forwarded to the WILPF listserv. (Most of our listservs are open to the public, by the way.) I attempted to decipher to the news from the rhetoric in this article. Frankly, it's early and I haven't had any coffee so I simply went to Google news and typed in "Chavez Venepal." That led me to this article, which offers historical context and a more balanced view of the events.

Nevertheless, Jorge Martin (the Marxist) was able to include the most intriguing quotes. Apparently, these are the words of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez:

Capitalism wants to annihilate the workers... here we are carrying out a process of liberation of the workers, and this is why they are annoyed in Washington. [...]

In Venezuela we are at war, but not invading other countries or violating other countries’ sovereignty... here we are at war against misery and poverty.

I'm intrigued by the quote because I'm usually turned off by Marxist rhetoric. Their view of history is tinged by their Hatred of Capitalism and their belief in the working class seems ridiculously simplistic to me. (If factory owners can be corrupted, why can't factory workers have the same human flaw?)

Nevertheless, I too sometimes want to wage war against misery and poverty. Usually, I don't want to uphold the culture of violence by using such a violent metaphor, but ultimately I wish more time and energy was spent decreasing misery and poverty. After all, universal healthcare will not come if we all continue to accept that our health should be the basis for profit. We must accept a small amount of socialism into our great "ownership society" if we're truly going to fix the problems fo Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the uninsured.

I'm not sure if my belief in basic human rights turns me red, but this post could put me on a government watch list (if my past activist experience hasn't already).

Posted by cj at 6:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 22, 2005

Evangelical Relief Workers: Not Just for Hungry Africans Anymore

Anyone who read Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell understands why mixing Christian evangelism with relief work is dishonorable. Turns out, some people see the aftermath of the tsunami as a perfect time to increase their conversion efforts.

David Rohde, with contributions from Neela Banerjee, writes about this problem in the NYT. Here's a classic example of why evangelism and humanitarian relief don't mix:

W. L. P. Wilson, 38, a disabled fisherman with a sixth-grade education, said he allowed the Americans to pray three times for the healing of his paralyzed lower leg because he was desperate to provide for his wife and three children again. Mr. Wilson, a Buddhist, said that he believed that the Americans were trying to convert him to Christianity but that he was in "a helpless situation now" and needed aid.

"They told me to always think about God and about Jesus and you will be healed," he said. "Whenever I ask for help they always mention God, but they do not give any money for treatment."

Now perhaps I am biased because my religion doesn't believe in evangelism. But seriously folks. Even the major Christian relief agencies agree that relief and religion shouldn't be mixed. Alas, it's not just a random small church from Waco, Texas that refuses to recognize this crucial separation. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University plans to send evangelicals to South Asia armed with food, medical supplies, and scriptures.

How long before people learn that their religious beliefs might be a panacea for their own problems; but the world would be a helluva lot better if people stopped trying to shove their beliefs down the throats of others? Don't get me wrong - I respect religious people and I respect their right to practice their religions. I just wish everyone could do that without prostelytizing.

Posted by cj at 6:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

Kerry: A Good Sport in Defeat

From CQ's Midday Update:

There's no more painful place to be for a losing presidential candidate than the inauguration of his rival. But Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., appeared to be in good spirits today as President Bush took the oath of office for a second time.When the crowds spotted Kerry as he emerged from the Capitol onto the stage, a chorus of boos and jeers rang out -- punctuated by a scattered cheer or two. Kerry grinned, then paced along the edge of the stage, leaning over to chat with a group of high school students from Hattiesburg, Miss., who had the best seats of the entire assembled hordes. "Who'd you vote for?" he called out. "We're too young to vote," they called back. "We're going to convert all these kids for the future," Kerry told reporters.
I'm sure the assembled masses in DC are happy to know that a bunch of high school students from Mississippi had the best seats in the house. Clearly, that was a politically good use of prime real estate. Looks like the only political upswing from that placement choice was some nice quotes for Kerry. Way to go, Shrub.

Posted by cj at 3:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Black Outs and Spending Stops

Many of my fellow left wing bloggers took their sites down today in protest of Shrub, Take Two. P! decided to join the blackout, a decision I agreed to through the consensus process. Here's the thing: I'm not morally opposed to blog blackouts (hence agreeing to let P! go down). I personally think it's absolutely pointless and self-defeating.

The point of my blogs is to allow me an outlet to discuss current events and culture. I also consider myself a voice for change, pointing out news you might not have heard, from a perspective you've never seen. It only helps my adversaries if I stop talking for a day.

Regarding "Not One Damn Dime" today. What the hell's the point? Why didn't y'all take that much concerted action in registering people to vote and getting them to the polls? Frankly, it is impossible for me to work and not spend a dime - I pay $1.75 each way to take the El to work. Did you want me to stop working in honor of your protest? And what about the other 364 days of the year? Do you just continue eating Big Macs and gulping down Coke while lamenting the state of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?

Posted by cj at 1:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shrub Wants to Shove Freedom Down Your Throat

I just finished reading the text of Shrub's inaugural speech (written by Michael Gerson). Apparently, it's America's job to ram freedom down the throats of the rest of the world. Not just any freedom - freedom that capitalism and democracy create. (That ownership society crap is code for pure, unmitigated capitalism.)

And in a nod to protestors everywhere, he said:

When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.
What the hell is the "Freedom Now" movement?!?!

I do love that my fate has been cast by Shrub's G'd. Apparently, the proof of this is that Shrub believes in Him.

Also note that our duty to Shrub and his G'd is to use our military to destroy "outlaw regimes." But nevermind that, because intelligence work is harder and more important than dying in Iraq or Afghanistan. Note the order in which he speaks of sacrifice in this graph:

A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy ... the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments ... the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.
Maybe you think that second sentence emphasizes the sacrifice soldiers make. Pshaw. Where's the nod to the thousands maimed by this useless war? Why is intelligence aka spying listed before diplomacy aka dialogue amongst equals? "Ideaistic work of helping raise up free governments." Funny thing about that - I believe in the 70s and 80s we called that covert CIA ops to suppress the desires of free people around the world.

I could go on, but there's no need. We all know where Shrub stands: with his religious beliefs firmly upholding his ability to destroy the world in search of pure capitalism and corporate ownership of politics and culture. I pray that people will see through his lies and that big media will do more today than simply praise Gerson's turn of phrase. I also hope they show protestors along with blabbing endlessly about ball gowns and ball protocol. It's going to be a long day, I know. I suppose I should be grateful that I've got lots of work to keep me busy.

Posted by cj at 1:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2005

Boy, Am I Glad I Didn't Go To Harvard

The President of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, thinks that women are innately dumber than men in science and math and that genetics is the reason for less women tenured profs than men. Right.

Here's an account of the conference where he made the remarks.

Here's an update on the storm that continues in the aftermath of the leopard showing his spots.

Apparently, Summers hasn't bothered to look around much. He thinks women can't handle 80-hour work weeks, nor do we have the brains for math or science. Let's see. I was in AP Calculus AB in the 11th grade. I took AP Biology in the 10th grade and AP Chemistry in the 11th grade. Last time I checked, I'm still female.

The reality is that women are just as good at math and science as men. But we're taught to hate it. We're taught that we'll never be good at it. And teachers teach those courses towards the way boys learn rather than the way girls learn: i.e., lots of tests and very little class discussion. Don't beieve me? Ask The Boy - my male friend in Beantown who spent a year as an exchange student at Wellesley to experience how science courses are taught differently in all-female classes as opposed to at co-ed colleges. Oh yeah, and did I mention the high acceptance rates into med school from my piddly lil women's college? ARRRG.

I can't tell you how much Summers' opinion upsets me. It's not just that idiots believe this crap. It's that idiots in positions of power believe that women have some innate disadvantage to men. Give me a frickin break!!! Yes, y'all are made physically stronger than us. That has absolutely nothing to do with our respective brain power. Summers reminds me of the morons at the turn of the century who used "science" to explain ethnic and racial discrimination.

Posted by cj at 4:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 18, 2005

Krugman Shines Again

The man can write a good op-ed column. This week, he takes on Shrub's perennial lying regarding Iraq and Social Security. Read all about the accountability moment in the NYT.

Posted by cj at 2:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Subservience Rules in MoDo's Dating Game

Morgaine Swan, my fellow contributing editor at P!, posted a response to this Maureen Dowd column in the NYT.

MoDo (Maureen Dowd) opines that men want spouses to take care of them and worship them, so they tend to marry non-threatening, subservient women (like their personal assistants). Women are also attracted to this idea because we fall for movies like "Spanglish" and "Love Actually."

Here's one of the worst (and last) graphs MoDo penned:

So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax? The more women achieve, the less desirable they are? Women want to be in a relationship with guys they can seriously talk to - unfortunately, a lot of those guys want to be in relationships with women they don't have to talk to.
For those in the cheap seats, let me explain. No, there is too much, let me sum up. There will always be narcissistic a-holes in the world who surround themselves with servants instead of partners. Those of us who live in the real world (with bills, student loans, and credit card debt) know that having a life partner is much more rewarding than having a maid.

One last point: never refer to the feminist movement as if it were dead. The feminist movement began way before MoDo's friends burned their bras in the 70s and will remain strong long after she stops getting paid for her tired dribble.

Posted by cj at 12:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rich Countries Should Pony Up Cash Money to Cut Poverty

The United Nations Millenium Project released a report yesterday entitled "Investing in Devlopment: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millenium Development Goals." It is 3,000 pages and based on the research of 265 pointy heads. Guess what their combined brain power figured out? More money would create more opportunity for the world's poorest people. I know you wish you were paid the big bucks to state the obvious, but you weren't smart enough to go into the business of telling poor people how to get less poor.

Some amusing bits from WaPo and NYT's reports:
1. Only 30 cents of every aid dollar reaches the poor.
2. The U.S. is the world's richest country and spends the lowest percentage of GDP on development aid - 0.15 percent
3. As many children die every month of malarie as died in the recent tsunami - 150,000 or more. Malaria is a preventable and completely treatable disease.
4. Oh yeah, eliminating crushing debt repayment (for the previous loans for the bogus free market approaches to poverty elimination sponsored by rich countries and Bretton Woods insitutions) would be helpful in achieving the current "goal" of halving extreme poverty in the world by 2015.

Posted by cj at 10:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2005

"Free" Trade Screwing Countries, Esp Their Female Breadwinners

Economists will tell you that the free market is the panacea needed for all the world's problems. They try to sweep under the rug the negative effects of their free markets. They call it "transitional costs" instead of massive unemployment and social upheaval.

This article in the LA Times by Evelyn Iritani, Marla Dickerson and Tyler Marshall details the problems caused by the end of apparel import quotas. I knew that these "structural changes" in the world economy were hurting Bangladesh, but I had no idea how far reaching the problem is.

See, men can't handle the reality of working in garment factories: the long hours, monotonous work, and constant pressure to produce more finished product in less time. So, the majority of the workers are female, and the economic freedom they gain from working allows them to expand their freedom in general. Also, studies keep showing that when you put money in the hands of the women of the developing world, more money is spent on food and education and less on cigarettes and alcohol.

Women make rational choices based on a desire to strengthen families and society, whether they live in Cambodia or the United States. It's a shame that the vast majority of voters here in the U.S. can't recognize the simple truth that women have the strength and ability needed to lead society towards a better future. We must continue to fight for equal rights and equal access. Until women are fully represented in board rooms, legislative, judicial, and executive public offices we will continue to be forced into pointless wars and filled with lies about an "ownership" society, where every individual must fend for herself.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. May this and every day fill you with a burning desire to work towards economic and social justice.

Posted by cj at 2:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 15, 2005

Nuclear Sub Crashed Into Undersea Mountain

This NYT article by Christopher Drew doesn't mentioned whether any nuclear material leaked from the sub when it crashed into a huge underwater mountain. It does tell you that one seaman died and 23 were seriously injured. And oh yeah, the map the sub was using didn't show a mountain in their way, just more water.

The problem is that the deep sea is the last unexplored area on earth.

Chris Andreasen, the chief hydrographer for the Office of Global Navigation at the intelligence agency, acknowledged in an interview that on the chart, "there's nothing shown that would be a hazard" at the crash site. ...

Mr. Andreasen and other scientists said that while commercial shipping interests had helped chart the most common transit routes, large areas of the ocean depths remained little charted.

Dr. David T. Sandwell, a geophysics professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, said that about 40 percent of the oceans were "very, very poorly charted, and those areas are mostly in the Southern Hemisphere."

Apparently, the nuclear-powered sub was also speeding when it crashed. Oh, and the Navy started stationing a significant number of subs around Guam in 2002 but never requested updates for its charts of the area. (The chart that failed to show the mountain was created in 1989.)

This story fascinated me for several reasons: first, because with all the technology we have, there are giant swaths of the Earth that we absolutely, completely don't understand. The deep sea is the original breeding ground for all life on Earth and yet we haven't taken the time to understand it. Instead, our scientists expend energy trying to figure out what's going on on the surface of a Saturn moon. Wouldn't you expect scientists to first completely understand their own planet before moving on to the far reaches of the solar system?

Second, it left out so many crucial details about the nuclear energy on the submarine. I know that anti-nuke activists hate the fact that nuke-powered submarines exist and I am personally concerned about whether or not that Navy sub left a trail of nuclear waste in its wake.

But I guess I should care more about whether a bunch of reckless, rich white people got caught in an avalanche on a clearly marked deathly area of a ski resort mountain than I should about the fate of the Pacific Ocean. At least, that's the impression I got from the news today on NBC's "Today Show" and MSNBC's news program. They both had plenty of reporting on that stupid avalanche in Colorado and zero on the sub crash.

Posted by cj at 10:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 14, 2005

WSJ Sucks, Bloggers Rule

It took the Wall Street Journal three paid reporters to come up with a short article that has zero news value, but still managed to make its World Wide News Box. The title is "Dean Campaign Made Payments to Two Bloggers." It's writers were William Bulkeley and James Bandler with contributions from Jeanne Cummings.

Amongst the lies in the article is this gem: the blogosphere is up in arms about the "recent" revelation that Dean paid bloggers to be consultants to his campaign. I'm also highly amused by the definition given of the blogosphere: "as many bloggers like to call the online community." It's all rather messed up and a really just a right-wing nut job rewording of a Zonkette post.

Zonkette, who presumably lifted her name from Wonkette, was apparently just trying to write a small blog in advance of a conference on blogger ethics. Her real question is how much transparency is needed when bloggers become political consultants. She thinks bloggers should list every single person/campaign that pay them for anything. It's a rather stupid position. First of all, there's no reason a blogger has to admit her real name. Second, if you don't have to admit your real name, that means you don't have to post under your true identity, which means your source of income is completely beside the point. Furthermore, it's been a helluva long time since I was last paid for anything remotely to do with my activism / blogging. At the same time, I think it's important for you to know that I'm an active member of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. In fact, I'm the At Large Membership Representative on the national board (and am running for a different position in the elections happening this Spring). So, that'd be why I try to point you to WILPF's many websites.

And hey, if you're qualified, apply to be the next UNO Director.

Anyway, the point is that biases come in many shapes and forms, not just a paycheck. I'm certainly biased about unions and labor issues in general because of my experience working as a union organizer and being the daughter and grand daughter of union members. Should all those things be listed on a "source of bias" page? Hell, I don't even know how to add pictures to this site, how am I supposed to add a bias page?

This blog - and most blogs - are not about static points of view. That's why people enjoy blogging. It's a chance to explore the world, write down opinions, and draw people into discussion about the world without ever having to leave the comfort of your bed. I don't think it's necessary to be fully transparent in order to be successful, or even honest, when blogging.

Hell, if I knew the secret behind a bunch of MALE bloggers making buckets of money off their random words on the web, I would jump on that bandwagon and topple it grabbing for the reins. Alas, I have two faults against me: I'm female and I have other things on my mind besides establishment politics.

Posted by cj at 6:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 12, 2005

Shrub's Plan to Leave Every Child Behind

Shrub wants to expand his system of high stakes federal testing to high schools, because multiple choice bubbles are the way of the future! From CQ Midday Update:

Despite skepticism in Congress, President Bush today said he will seek $1.5 billion in his fiscal 2006 budget to expand the testing and standards required under the No Child Left Behind Act into high schools.

In a speech at J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, Va., Bush noted that American high school students lag their peers in other countries. "Testing is important," he said. "Testing at high school levels will help us become more competitive as the years go by. Testing in high schools will make sure that our children are employable for the jobs of the 21st century." Bush is likely to meet some resistance, not only from Democrats who say the administration has not sought sufficient funding for No Child Left Behind, but also from some GOP skeptics who want to see problems with the law resolved before it is expanded.

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere and not a drop of common sense or learning to spare.

Posted by cj at 4:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Proof Shrub Went AWOL

Perhaps this isn't the most important news story of the day. I can't even read about all the ways he lied and got out of serving in the military.

Here's Daily Kos' round up of the evidence.

Here's the Salon story based on AP FOIA findings.

Posted by cj at 1:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 11, 2005

Get Ur Ticket to Shrub's Inaugural

Strangely enough, Democratic lawmakers aren't getting tons of calls from constituents for tix to the Inaugural Bash on 1-20. Perhaps because all of their constituents who like them are participating in the "Not One Damn Dime" Boycott (don't spend a dime on 1-20 is the gist of the message).

On the other hands, Republicans are clamoring all over themselves to get a seat. And Shrub has graciously offered to be the first president ever to not repay the District of Columbia for the millions it will spend on security for the event.

More deets on the ticket scramble from the NY Post.

Posted by cj at 1:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SS Quote and a Small Rant

From Today's Papers, by Eric Umansky:

The WP fronts what it says are a few dozen House Republicans who are against Bush's officially unannounced SS plans. "Why stir up a political hornet's nest when there is no urgency?" asked Rep. Rob Simmons (Conn.). "When does the program go belly up? 2042. I will be dead by then."
Indeed. Instead of wasting millions of dollars on a propaganda war designed to create panic in the heartland, why doesn't Shrub deal with the cost of his tax cuts for the rich and the healthcare crisis in this country? My heart goes out to the Tennessee residents who just lost their TennCare coverage. We must come together and fight Shrub, his cronies, and Big Pharma for the healthcare we all deserve.

Posted by cj at 11:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

UN Peacekeepers Exploited Congolese Girls and Women

In horrific news abroad, UN Peacekeepers continue to exploit Congolese girls and women, using girls as young as thirteen as prostitutes. From the AP via USAT:

United Nations peacekeepers in Congo sexually exploited women and girls, some as young as 13, a U.N. watchdog office said Friday in a new confirmation that efforts to curb abuses by U.N. troops are not working.

Peacekeepers regularly had sex with Congolese women and girls, usually in exchange for food or small sums of money, investigators from the world body's Office of Internal Oversight Services found.

"We have had and continue to have a serious problem of sexual exploitation and abuse," William Lacy Swing, the United Nations' special representative to Congo, said at a news conference.

Emphasis added.

Part of the problem is that the UN has no authority over peacekeepers: they are only subject to the laws of their own countries. This is disgusting and the world should not continue to accept these atrocities.

The Congo is a dangerous place - genocide perpetrators from Rwanda continue to ravage part of the country. The Congolese should be able to see UN Peacekeepers as shelters from the storm of violence. The situation is completely unacceptable.

Posted by cj at 3:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 9, 2005

SS Privatization is Wrong, Healthcare Needs to Be Fixed

Molly Ivins rocks! Have you ever heard her speak live? She's hysterical. In her most recent column, she explains how big business fat cats are the only people who'd benefit from privatizing Social Security and exactly why the healthcare system needs to be fixed.

A few choice graphs:

And for robustly ignoring reality, you can't hardly beat spending $50 million to $100 million on a propaganda campaign to convince America there's something seriously wrong with Social Security while you ignore the collapse of the American health care system. It is common to begin all discussions of American health care with a complete lie, uttered in this example by President Bush: "We live in a great country that has got the best health care system in the world, and we need to keep it that way."

The peerless investigative team of Donald Bartlett and James Steele reports in their new book, "Critical Condition: How Health Care in America Became Big Business - and Bad Medicine," one of our most enduring myths is that we have "world class health care."

"To be sure, it does offer the very best of care to some folks," they write. "It does offer world-class high-tech surgery and some space-age medical procedures. But these benefit 2 or 3 percent of the population at most, along with the richest citizens of other countries who come here for the highly specialized treatment. ... Many countries around the world take far better care of their people, achieve better results for their health care system and do it all with far fewer dollars. ... The statistics are even grimmer when life span is counted in years of healthy living. ... By this measure, the United States in 2002 ranked a distant 29th among the countries of the world, between Slovenia and Portugal."

It's always good to know I'm not crazy - that other people recognize the Shrub's scheme to "fix" SS really is meant to break it. And just imagine what the $50-$100 million they're raising for a propaganda campaign could do for starving genocide victims in Darfur, Sudan. But when a millionaire like Shrub only gives $10,000 to tsunami relief, how can you expect his administration to prioritize humanitarian crises?

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January 7, 2005

Read My Lips: Torture Is Legit

"Geneva Convention Overhaul Considered," Peter Wallsten, LAT

I've watched Republican lackeys for the last two nights on Hardball spew lies about what the Geneva Convention is and what rights it affords prisoners.

Take a look at the treaties yourself to see how humane and just they are: Reference Guide to the Geneva Conventions

This nation is in a time of terrible crisis when a man as despicable as Alberto Gonzalez can fly through confirmation proceedings and become the Attorney General.

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Drug Adverts

South Knox Bubba wrote an excellent post about pharmaceutical advertising. I fully agree with him, especially his last point: there's enough money in the system to provide healthcare for all Americans. It's a violation of human rights to continue denying us this basic right.

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January 6, 2005

Disturbing News About Tsunami Survivors

NYT has deets on tsunami survivors: how they have to have their limbs hack-sawed off and doctors riding to work in the back of garbarge trucks.

"For Many Tsunami Survivors, Battered Bodies, Grim Choices", by Jane Perlez

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Some Disaster Victims Are More Important Than Others

Folks affected by floods in Mozambique got pledges of forty cents per person. Chechyns in 2003 got forty dollars per person. And those affected by the tsunami have been pledged six hundred dollars per person.

Actually, they don't even get that much. Most donor nations don't bother fulfilling their pledges, and a lot of the "money" they do give is in the form of loans. (I don't consider a loan - regardless of the interest rate - to be a true contribution, do you?)

The silver lining to all this is that private donations actually do arrive. As of Wednesday, $700 million was pledged by individuals and private firms.

While I agree that tsunami relief efforts are important and worthwhile, it's frustrating that the coffers of the world aren't open year round. People don't seem to mind that victims of ethnic cleansing in Darfur are dying of starvation; or any of the other dozens of problems across the world.

"Aid Promised Is Not Always Delivered: The U.N. urges donors to make good on their pledges. Sometimes, only part of the help arrives - years later." by Maggie Farley, LAT

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The Note's Anti-Semitism

Look, I'm not one to cry injustice just because some people don't like my tribe. I've mentioned before on my blogs that I've only experienced anti-semitism once in my lifetime, and that was when I was on a Jewish youth group bus trip in Cody, Wyoming. And really, how many Jews frequent Cody? At any rate, I was appalled at reading this in The Note:

Which reminds us: have you heard the one about the political party that engaged in oodles of post-election bellyaching about values voters, rural voters, and the potential electoral power of evangelical Christians, and then decides to tap two big-city Jewish guys to head up its efforts to win back control of the House and the Senate?

It's pretty funny.

But don't underestimate how aggressive and smart these guys are. And, as Pat Buchanan might say, they both know a lot of New York bankers.

WTF?!?! Clearly, anyone involved in politics knows people with money. But wtf is up with the emphasis on their Jewishness and bankers? This is ridiculous. Disgusting. Enough already. And just for those in cheap seats, let me repeat: "Jew" is not a verb. "Jewing down" is never an appropriate phrase to use. And "Jew Town" is a derogatory name. You ever heard of Black City? Didn't think so. So please, stop using these terms. [/leaving soap box]

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The Governator Thinks Education Isn't Important

Check this out: in my great home state of California, Arnold is proposing a $2.2 billion cut in education spending, despite previously promising not to make the cut. The cuts is for K-12 and community colleges. Interesting that he's not planning on bleeding the Cal State and UC systems. The deets are at the LAT.

In related news, the dean of UC Berkeley's law school wants to privatize it.

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January 5, 2005

Leahy to Grill Gonzales

Apparently, if you use big legal words to promote torture and illegal, never-ending detention you are well qualified to be the Attorney General of the United States. Well, you'll have to sit through some tough questions from an onery Dem, but no worries: in due time, you, the torture promoter, will become the supreme law enforcer of the land. From CQ Midday Update:

Although he is expected to win confirmation, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales faces a rough ride before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing Thursday on his nomination to serve as attorney general. Ranking Democrat Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont plans to grill Gonzales about his role in formulating administration policy regarding treatment of prisoners overseas, a policy critics say permitted torture. "There are lingering questions. There is unresolved accountability," Leahy said. The liberal group People For the American Way today sent senators a statement strongly opposing Gonzales. Ralph G. Neas, the group's president, said, "The public record makes it clear that Alberto Gonzales has far too frequently allowed his legal judgment to be driven by his close relationship with the president rather than adherence to the law or the Constitution." The first Bush Cabinet nominee to advance is likely to be Carlos M. Gutierrez, the Kellogg Corp. CEO picked to lead the Commerce Department. The Senate Commerce Committee plans to vote on his nomination tomorrow right after a confirmation hearing.

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January 4, 2005

Krugman on Social Security

Paul Krugman has taken it upon himself to school us, the American people, in the fine art of understanding SS and the b.s. the administration is trying to feed us on the subject. Juicy bits from today, his first installment in a series:

There are two serious threats to the federal government's solvency over the next couple of decades. One is the fact that the general fund has already plunged deeply into deficit, largely because of President Bush's unprecedented insistence on cutting taxes in the face of a war. The other is the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid.

As a budget concern, Social Security isn't remotely in the same league. The long-term cost of the Bush tax cuts is five times the budget office's estimate of Social Security's deficit over the next 75 years. The botched prescription drug bill passed in 2003 does more, all by itself, to increase the long-run budget deficit than the projected rise in Social Security expenses.

Full op-ed in NYT.

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In Fighting Abounds in the World of Unions

SEIU Prez Stern and AFL-CIO Prez Sweeney continue to duke it out over the future face of labor and face in charge of labor's union. (The AFL-CIO is not a union; it is an organization of unions.) WaPo has some hairy deets, including this gem (which is used as justification to get SEIU organizers to work overtime with no days off):

Some point to disturbing trends in union membership: The percentage of workers represented by unions has dropped from 15.5 percent in 1994 to 12.9 percent in 2003. In 1955, when the AFL and CIO merged, 33.2 percent of U.S. workers were in unions.

In a more threatening development, the percentage of the private-sector workforce represented by unions dropped to 8.2 percent last year.

SEIU's promotional blog about this and other labor topics.

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Terrible News Roundup

Here are links to articles about the tsunami from Sunday through today. They offer more insight than the evening news (shocking, I know).

"Disorganization, Shortage of Gear Complicate Task," by Peter Goodman, WaPo, Sunday Jan 2

"A Tremor, Then a Sigh of Relief, Before the Cataclysm Rushed In: After southern Asia's massive quake, experts initially were blind to the threat of a tsunami. Others were unable or unwilling to act." by Paul Watson, Barbara Demick, and Richard Fausset, LAT, Sunday Jan 2 with reporting by Richard Paddock, Bruce Wallace, Mark Magnier, Elizabeth Shogren, Sonni Efron, Thomas Maugh II, and Monte Morin.

"Amid Good Intentions, Aid Workers Try to Bring Order to the Genorosity," by Stephanie Strom, NYT, Monday Jan 3. With reporting by Wayne Arnold, Ian Fisher, and David Rohde

"Aid Groups Await Island Access: Government Delay Said to Ignore Urgency of Tribes' Needs," by Rama Lakshmi, WaPo, Monday Jan 3

"Many Thousands Cut Off From Relief: Small Fraction of Food Aid Has Been Delivered," by Peter Goodman, WaPo, Tuesday Jan 4. With reporting by Colum Lynch and Alan Sipress.

"No Easy Access for Remote Islands: Car Nicobar, with an Indian military presence and indigenous tribes, is kept off limits to foreign aid workers." by Janaki Kremmer, Christian Science Monitor, Tuesday Jan 4

"Nicobar completely devastated, says Centre,"PTI, Monday, Jan 3 in The Times of India

Quake May Have Permanently Shifted Islands: Surveyors Begin Task of Determining Whether Disaster Altered Coastal Geography," by Rama Lakshmi, WaPo, Tuesday January 4

"US intensifies its role in relief: Its aid is proving crucial - and may lift America's image." by Liz Marlantes and Faye Bowers, Christian Science Monitor, Tuesday January 4

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