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Miscellaneous Thoughts (a.k.a. The Ranting Corner)
Tuesday, 20 July 2004
Jumping the Shark
Could Six Feet Under have jumped the shark HARDER? I mean, it was painful to watch the last episode. I swear to God, if David becomes a crackhead I'm done. Not even Maya can keep me coming back.

By the way, see below a guest entry by my lovely husband.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 9:18 PM EDT
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Drained
I am drained. I have been drained at work for some time now, but all things considered, my job isn't that bad. It's fairly pointless, and my primary role is to justify the need for my continued employment by producing reports that assure the people on my case load are being served at the highest levels of quality. However, I have no power to either reward or punish staff who are not providing the best care. It's also important to note that most of these staff people are making under $10 an hr, which anyone in NJ knows is a joke. It's not a liveable income, so most of them work two jobs just to make ends meet. I can't recommend improvements for the group homes/automobiles/clothing etc. for the individuals because there is no money for them. Therefore, I spin my wheels and produce reports telling the powers that be what they want to hear, while keeping my eyes open to ensure that nothing "really important" is being shortchanged.

The upside to this position is that I enjoy my coworkers, and with very few exceptions we all get along well. This makes for a good sense of "we're in this together" and makes the days go by with some grins and a decent feeling that we'll make the best of things while we can, and pull for each other to move on to success elsewhere. Yet today, this came crumbling down, as one of my coworkers angrily erupted during a meeting, with a shot clearly directed at our supervisor. Our supervisor used to be a colleague before being promoted. The truth of the matter is that the anger and frustraton on display really surprised me. It also saddened me, because while our group has shifted over my 2 years with the company, there has never been an implosinon like this from within. I understand where some of the frustration comes from, but not the intensity or amount of it. This just further reenforces my feeling that a change is coming. I know that one of my other coworkers, (the author of the classic blog waiting to die, see links) is actively looking, and hopefully he gets out of it. If and when he splits, my motivation to move on will only grow.


Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 7:46 PM EDT
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Damn you, Lindsay Lohan!
You almost had me fooled!

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 2:39 PM EDT
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Movies!
I?m hitting the pause button on the political rants long enough to squeal with delight over ANOTHER sure-to-please summer flick.

The Bourne Supremacy comes out this weekend and I can?t wait. This has been a very unusual summer for us. Most summers have the requisite popcorn movies that suck hard and stay long (anyone remember Big Momma?s House?) This summer has been so much better (although the paranoid chick deep down inside wants to ask if it?s to distract us from all the shit going on in the world).

Shrek 2, Spiderman 2, The Bourne Supremacy, The Anchorman and Dodgeball to name a few all offer top of the line entertainment.

I did hear one piece of bad news yesterday, though. Apparently Bryan Singer has signed on to direct the Superman movie they?re trying to get going. This means he?ll be unavailable when my precious X-Men are ready to go again. I almost cried when I heard the news. They better find someone good to replace him because if they try to pawn of the guy who did Daredevil or Catwoman I will have the mother of all hissy fits.

As an aside, I was thinking the other day about when The Bourne Identity came out. Do you remember what it was competing against? The horrible Asslick movie. . . what was it called again? The Sum of All Bad Acting? I think we all know who one that little contest.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 2:04 PM EDT
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Monday, 19 July 2004
Lies, Lies, And More Lies....
Well, W is at it again. Luckily, someone is around to call him on it.

Bush's Foreign Fantasy
The president thinks the world is safer than it was three years ago. Which world is he living in?
By Fred Kaplan

Earlier this week, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, home of the Y-12 nuclear-weapons facility, in Tennessee, President Bush gave one of his best-written speeches. This was his "America is safer" speech, and we will no doubt hear variations on it many times in the next four months. In it, he lists the world's hot spots, one by one (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan), contrasts what each was like three years ago with what it's like now, and concludes each success story with the refrain, "and the American people are safer." After the last item on the checklist, he expands the viewfinder, exclaiming, "and America and the world are safer."

It's a very effective speech (the Oak Ridge scientists greeted each repetition with stormy applause), unless you take a closer look at the examples it cites?in which case questions of comparative safety (are you safer now than you were three years ago?) seem at best ambiguous and in some cases downright depressing.

The "slam dunk" case would seem to be Libya. Three years ago, Muammar Qaddafi was acquiring materials for nuclear weapons. Today, he's surrendered the materials, invited in international inspectors, and stepped into the civilized world. Libya has a particular resonance for Oak Ridge, because it's the national lab where Qaddafi's nuclear materials are now stored.

Without question, any action that keeps Qaddafi away from an A-bomb is an unequivocal plus. But just what did turn him away from such ambitions? And how close was he to building a weapon, anyway?

In the past, Bush has suggested that Qaddafi changed course because he saw what happened to Saddam and wondered if his own crown might be next. Bush implied as much at Oak Ridge: "[T]he Libyan government saw the seriousness of the civilized world and correctly judged its own interests." It seems plausible that fear of impending invasion may have played a role in Qaddafi's calculations. But there are a few facts that weaken this theory.

First, when Bush first touted Libya's disarmament in his State of the Union address last January, he heralded the move as the result of "nine months of intense negotiation" involving Libya, the United States, and Britain. Qaddafi made his announcement in December. "Nine months" suggests the talks started the previous March. That was before the war in Iraq began.

At the same time, Bush said at Oak Ridge, the crucial step came when U.S. and British intelligence tracked a large shipment of nuclear equipment on a German-registered cargo ship bound for Tripoli. They informed the Germans, who diverted the ship to an Italian port, where the cargo was confiscated. This incident took place just last autumn?months after Saddam's toppling. If Qaddafi was trembling from the great display of American power, his fear didn't stop him from continuing his quest for black-market nuclear gear.

So, Qaddafi was negotiating about giving up his nuclear ambitions before the war in Iraq, yet he furtively persisted in these ambitions after Saddam's regime had tumbled. Maybe his nuclear gambits?the arming and the disarming?had little to do with the war, after all.

How close was Qaddafi to getting a bomb?that is, how much disarmament did his sacrifice involved? Mohammad ElBaradei, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, after examining the cache and the facilities, said Libya's nuclear program was "at a very initial stage." Not just an initial stage, a very initial stage.

David Albright, a specialist at the Institute for Science and International Security, breaks it down. Libya had ordered 10,000 centrifuges but almost none of the associated components needed to connect them into a spinning cascade for enriching uranium hexafluoride?that is, almost none of the stuff you'd need to turn uranium into bomb-grade material, much less into a bomb.

It looks like Qaddafi knew his nuclear program was going nowhere?he'd tried it once before, in the 1980s, to no avail. Then he got caught. Meanwhile, his economy was tanking. And maybe he sensed it would be a good idea, for now, to chummy up to the West. So, he made a big deal of giving up something he didn't really have, with hopes of reaping a big reward in return.

That's fine. But it had little, if anything, to do with what Bush calls America's "new approach in the world" after 9/11.

About Afghanistan, Bush's speech celebrated the crushing of the Taliban and the new reign of Hamid Karzai, "a good and just president." The military defeat of the Taliban was indeed Bush's singularly great accomplishment. But what happened afterward? The U.S. troops left in place?even with NATO assistance?were too paltry to stabilize the territory. As a result, warlords are once again slicing up the country. Elections have been put off due to poor security. Poppy growth and subsequent heroin exports to Europe are at nearly an all-time high. Taliban fighters are gaining ground here and there. And the eastern border to Pakistan, not at all secure, almost certainly still harbors Osama Bin Laden.

On Iraq, Bush?as usual?was very careful with his language. Three years ago, he told the Oak Ridge scientists, Iraq was ruled by "a proven mass murderer who refused to account for weapons of mass murder." (Note: "weapons of mass murder," not "weapons of mass destruction"; and "refused to account for," not "refused to disarm.") Now, Bush went on, Iraq is "becoming an example of reform to the region." Because America "helped to end the violent regime of Saddam Hussein, and because we're helping to raise a peaceful democracy in its place, the American people are safer."

As the pundits say, that remains to be seen. Maybe Iraq will emerge from the chaos as an exemplar of reform; maybe it will slide further into chaos and only encourage neighboring tyrannies to intensify their clampdowns. Meanwhile, terrorists, who it turns out didn't enjoy safe haven in Iraq before the war, have carved out camps in its aftermath. Leading Shiites are forming unsettling alliances with Iran. The Kurds are balking at any incursions on their autonomy. And, in the first month of Iraqi sovereignty, the most cherished consumer item for many citizens?thousands line up for one?is a passport to get the hell out of there.

Another case of progress, according to Bush's speech, is Saudi Arabia's decision to join us in the war on terror and to crack down on the jihadist "charities" in its midst. But this came about (to the extent it truly has come about) only after terrorist bombers mounted attacks in Riyadh. Bush acknowledges the Saudis' belatedness on this matter. And, no question, better late than not at all. Still, the shift (again, to the extent it's genuine, lasting, and effective) has little to do with Bush's foreign policy, which had tolerated the Saudis' diffidence before and after 9/11.

Most troublesome of all are Bush's claims about nuclear proliferation. Yes, Western intelligence agencies traced and shut down A.Q. Khan's vast black-market supply network and even persuaded the Pakistani government to relieve him of his duties (if not to punish him personally). Good has also come of the Proliferation Security Initiative, a truly multilateral effort to police nuclear trafficking.

However, the world's most alarming and concrete instance of proliferation?the open emergence of North Korea as a nuclear state?has been appallingly mishandled by the Bush administration. For over a year, Bush refused even to discuss the matter with the North Koreans, despite their clear desire to negotiate. A month ago, he finally offered a deal nearly identical to the deal the North Koreans offered us at the beginning of 2003?but it's too late. They have since moved much closer to mass production of A-bombs, and so they've stiffened their terms. Possibly even more than the war in Iraq, this could go down as Bush's deepest diplomatic disaster.

This says nothing of the frustrated effort to stall Iran's nuclear program. Bush didn't say much about that, either.

The key failure is that Bush said nothing?and has planned nothing?about devising a general international policy toward nonproliferation. Police enforcement can go only so far. An effective policy must deal with the reasons certain nations want to go nuclear?and the incentives, as well as the punishments, that might deter them from doing so.

Toward the end of his speech, Bush said this:

Three years ago, the world was very different. Terrorists planned attacks, with little fear of discovery or reckoning. Outlaw regimes supported terrorists and defied the civilized world. ? Weapon-proliferators sent their deadly shipments. ? The world changed on September the 11th, and since that day, we have changed the world. We are leading a steady, confident, systematic campaign against the dangers of our time. Today, because America has acted and because America has led, the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat, and America and the world are safer.

Stirring words. But what world is he talking about?

Fred Kaplan writes the "War Stories" column for Slate.

~~

What I don't understand is how people can still be on the fence about this guy. In yesterday's Star Ledger there was an article on the front page on the 9/11 Commission comparison between the Bush Administration's response to the threat of terror and the Clinton Administration's "energetic" response to the threat of terror.

Outrage Fatigue is setting in. I have to go lie down somewhere and weep.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 8:24 AM EDT
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Friday, 16 July 2004
Weighed Down
I know I should have tried to write before now, but this whole week I?ve been feeling very weighed down. I?ve been feeling weighed down by the impending election and all the mud slinging we?re in for. Weighed down by the potential for an election postponement. Weighed down by the heightened ?chatter? which seems to be enabling the possibility for an election postponement. Weighed down by Iraq and all the loss of life. Weighed down by the report that confirms there was no link between bin Ladin and Saddam. Weighed down by the fact some people actually needed the report before they would believe it. Weighed down by our ?president?s? continued belief that there WAS a link.

It?s all enough to make me want to go to sleep forever. Why are people such sheep? Why do we allow ourselves to be led around like this? How can we have so little self-respect? I just don?t understand. And it makes me feel sad and helpless.

Before I sign off, I thought I?d share another interesting forward.

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a ?we can't find Bin Laden? diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers for your recovery.

You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Feel free to pass this on. If you don't send it to at least 10 other people, we're likely to be stuck with Bush for 4 more years.

Friends don't let friends vote Republican.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 2:25 PM EDT
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Monday, 12 July 2004
Hail to the Thief
Well, I didn?t really believe it could happen, but Barce called it. They want to postpone the elections. My favorite part of this article?

?[Tom] Ridge's department last week asked the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to analyze what legal steps would be needed to permit the postponement of the election were an attack to take place. Justice was specifically asked to review a recent letter to Ridge from DeForest B. Soaries Jr., chairman of the newly created U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Soaries noted that, while a primary election in New York on September 11, 2001, was quickly suspended by that state's Board of Elections after the attacks that morning, "the federal government has no agency that has the statutory authority to cancel and reschedule a federal election." Soaries, a Bush appointee who two years ago was an unsuccessful GOP candidate for Congress, wants Ridge to seek emergency legislation from Congress empowering his agency to make such a call. Homeland officials say that as drastic as such proposals sound, they are taking them seriously?along with other possible contingency plans in the event of an election-eve or Election Day attack. "We are reviewing the issue to determine what steps need to be taken to secure the election," says Brian Roehrkasse, a Homeland spokesman.?

Just as they ?secured the election? last time, right? So the election could be postponed midway should an attack occur. I bet that?d make the votes awfully hard to count, right? And if, say, the initial tallies indicate that Kerry is in the lead, they could presumably just toss ?em right out. America is under attack ? who needs an election?

Bunch of lying, stealing, cheating bastards. Can?t win honestly? Then win anyway you can.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 12:35 PM EDT
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Sunday, 11 July 2004
Factual Evidence
The media attack on Michael Moore seems to have subsided for the moment, but just for kicks, I thought I'd post some factual evidence for the movie. Because there's so much I'm not going to do it all at once, but to start I thought we could look at the 2000 Election to demonstrate exactly why EVERYONE needs to vote this year.

FAHRENHEIT 9/11: Fox was the first network to call Florida for Bush. Before that, some other networks had called Florida for Gore, and they changed after Fox called it for Bush.

**?With information provided from the Voter News Service, NBC was the first network to project Gore the winner in Florida at 7:48 pm. At 7:50 pm ,CNN and CBS project Gore the winner in Florida as well.? By 8:02 pm , all five networks and the Associated Press had called Gore the winner in Florida. Even the VNS called Gore the winner at 7:52 pm.At 2:16 am, Fox calls Floridafor Bush, NBC follows at 2:16 am. ABC is the last network to call the Florida for Bush, at 2:20 am, while AP and VNS never call Florida for Bush. CNN

** Ten minutes after the top of the hour, network excitement was again beginning to build. At 2:16 a.m., the call was made: Fox News Channel, with Bush's first cousin John Ellis running its election desk, was the first to project Florida -- and the presidency -- for the Texas governor. Within minutes, the other networks followed suit. "George Bush, Governor of Texas will become the 43rd President of the United States," CNN's Bernard Shaw announced atop a graphic montage of a smiling Bush. "At 18 minutes past two o'clock Eastern time, CNN declares that George Walker Bush has won Florida's 25 electoral votes and this should put him over the top." PBS

FAHRENHEIT 9/11: The man who was in charge of the decision desk at FOX on election night was Bush?s first cousin, John Ellis.

**?John Ellis, a first cousin of George W. Bush, ran the network's ?decision desk? during the 2000 election, and Fox was the first to name Bush the winner. Earlier, Ellis had made six phone calls to Cousin Bush during the vote-counting.? William O?Rourke, ?Talk Radio Key to GOP Victory,? Chicago Sun-Times, December 3, 2002.

**A Fox News consultant, John Ellis, who made judgments about presidential ?calls? on Election Night admits he was in touch with George W. Bush and FL Gov. Jeb Bush by telephone several times during the night, but denies breaking any rules.CNN, November 14, 2000.

**John Ellis, the Fox consultant who called Florida early for George Bush, had to stop writing about the campaign for the Boston Globe because of family ?loyalty? to Bush. November 14, 2000 CBS News.

FAHRENHEIT 9/11: ?Make sure the chairman of your campaign is also the vote countin? woman and that her state has hired a company that?s gonna knock voters off the rolls who aren?t likely to vote for you. You can usually tell them by the color of their skin.?

**?The vote total was certified by Florida's secretary of state, Katherine Harris, head of the Bush campaign in Florida, on behalf of Gov. Jeb Bush, the candidate's brother.? Mark Zoller Seitz, ?Bush Team Conveyed an Air of Legitimacy,? San Diego Union-Tribune, December 16, 2000.

**The Florida Department of State awarded a $4 million contract to the Boca Raton-based Database Technologies Inc. (subsidiary of ChoicePoint). They were tasked with finding improperly registered voters in the state?s database, but mistakes were rampant. ?At one point, the list included as felons 8,000 former Texas residents who had been convicted of misdemeanors.? St. Petersburg Times (Florida), December 21, 2003.

**Database Technologies, a subsidiary of ChoicePoint, ?was responsible for bungling an overhaul of Florida?s voter registration records, with the result that thousands of people, disproportionately black, were disenfranchised in the 2000 election. Had they been able to vote, they might have swung the state, and thus the presidency, for Al Gore, who lost in Florida. Oliver Burkeman, Jo Tuckman, ?Firm in Florida Election Fiasco Earns Millions from Files on Foreigners,? The Guardian, May 5, 2003. See also, Atlanta-Journal-Constitution, May 28, 2001.

**In 1997, Rick Rozar, the late head of the company bought by ChoicePoint, donated $100,000 to the Republican National Committee. Melanie Eversley, ?Atlanta-Based Company Says Errors in Felon Purge Not Its Fault,? Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 28, 2001. Frank Borman of Database Technologies Inc. has donated extensively to New Mexico Republicans, as well as to the Presidential campaign of George W. Bush. Opensecrets.org, ?Frank Borman.?

FAHRENHEIT 9/11: Gore got the most votes in 2000.

**[A]consortium [Tribune Co., owner of the Times; Associated Press; CNN; the New York Times; the Palm Beach Post; the St. Petersburg Times; the Wall Street Journal; and the Washington Post] hired the NORC [National Opinion Research Center, a nonpartisan research organization affiliated with the University of Chicago] to view each untallied ballot and gather information about how it was marked. The media organizations then used computers to sort and tabulate votes, based on varying scenarios that had been raised during the post-election scramble in Florida. Under any standard that tabulated all disputed votes statewide, Mr. Gore erased Mr. Bush's advantage and emerged with a tiny lead that ranged from 42 to 171 votes. Donald Lambro, ?Recount Provides No Firm Answers,? Washington Times, November 12, 2001.

**?The review found that the result would have been different if every canvassing board in every county had examined every undervote, a situation that no election or court authority had ordered. Gore had called for such a statewide manual recount if Bush would agree, but Bush rejected the idea and there was no mechanism in place to conduct one.? Martin Merzer, ?Review of Ballots Finds Bush's Win Would Have Endured Manual Recount,? Miami Herald, April 4, 2001.

**See also, the following article by one of the Washington Post journalists who ran the consortium recount. The relevant point is made in Table I of the article.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 1:14 PM EDT
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U.S. Warns of al Qaeda Terror Plot
This was a headline in Friday?s Star Ledger

Assuming that they?re referring to an ?attack? that will happen close to the November elections, there are two ways this could go.

If it doesn?t happen, Bush can come out and say, ?See? We?ve been on top of these mofos and we stopped ?em ? THIS TIME. Re-elect us so that we can continue to keep you safe.?

If there is an attack, the Bushies can say, ?See? We told you this was a possibility. We need to band together for the love of our country and fight the good fight. If you don?t re-elect us then it?ll all go right to hell. We?re the only ones who know what?s going on in the intelligence community. We weren?t able to stop this one, but together, we can stop the next one!?

I?m thinking Bushco will go with the former because there?ll be less loss of life which is always unpopular, but if they do go with the latter, then they can re-impose the draft and invade Iran, which I believe is next in line. All these rumblings about its nuclear weapons do not bode well.

Either way, it?s bad, bad news.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 11:42 AM EDT
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Friday, 9 July 2004
Silly Wabbit
Last night after a glass and a half of wine I accidently posted on my lovely husband's blog. You read that right. I meant to post on my blog but as we're both members of the angelfire community I didn't really notice who I was logged in as and just posted away. Here's the post that was meant for you, dear readers (you can also find it at his site if you're so inclined):

It didn?t take long for Bushco (? Barce) to start attacking KerryEdwards04. I love this quote: ?The people in the south know that the Senator from Massachusetts does not share their values.? Which values would those be? The screw-the-environment value? Or the billionaire-tax-cut value? Or, wait, I bet it?s the let-corporate-America-do-whatever-it-wants-while-the-rest-of-the-country-endures-the-first-jobless-recovery-in-history value? No, no, no! I bet it's the let's-invade-Iraq-and-see-where-it-goes value!

Sigh.

Also, my new hubby came up with a brilliant little something today. Around our house the distinguished Vice President is now known as Darth Cheney. ?He could be president.? Unless of course he already is. Since the day they took office. Wait. Since the day they were given the office.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 8:40 PM EDT
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