December 16, 2005

This Dec 25th, I'll see you at "Osama's Homo Abortion Pot & Commie Jizzporium."

Rep. John Dingell waxes poetic on the House floor:

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the House,
No bills were passed `bout which Fox News could grouse.
Tax cuts for the wealthy were passed with great cheer,
So vacations in St. Barts soon should be near.
Katrina kids were all nestled snug in motel beds,
While visions of school and home danced in their heads.
In Iraq, our soldiers need supplies and a plan,
And nuclear weapons are being built in Iran.
Gas prices shot up, consumer confidence fell.
Americans feared we were in a fast track to ..... well.
Wait, we need a distraction, something divisive and wily,
A fabrication straight from the mouth of O'Reilly.
We will pretend Christmas is under attack,
Hold a vote to save it, then pat ourselves on the back.
Silent Night, First Noel, Away in the Manger,
Wake up Congress, they're in no danger.
This time of year, we see Christmas everywhere we go,
From churches to homes to schools and, yes, even Costco.
What we have is an attempt to divide and destroy
When this is the season to unite us with joy.
At Christmastime, we're taught to unite.
We don't need a made-up reason to fight.
So on O'Reilly, on Hannity, on Coulter and those right-wing blogs.
You should sit back and relax, have a few egg nogs.
'Tis the holiday season; enjoy it a pinch.
With all our real problems, do we really need another Grinch?
So to my friends and my colleagues, I say with delight,
A Merry Christmas to all, and to Bill O'Reilly, happy holidays.
Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas.

And for all you Christmas originalists like Colbert--flaming trees, fruit shoes, and a terrifying black elf.

November 26, 2005

Progressive Gifting

There's some easy ways to buy blue and green for the holidays...just thought I'd pass these along.

Instead of using Amazon for online shopping (still a red company), try Powell's or Barnes and Noble.

The best thing (besides shopping in local bookstores) is to use for books, music, or DVDs, and choose which retailer you want to use from their site. A commission from your purchase goes towards their partners (Alternet, CodePink, Free Speech TV, Organic Grower's Association, etc).

Green gift ideas--Co-Op America.

And BuzzFlash has some excellent premiums they're offering in exchange for donations.

Happy Chrismukkanza.

November 25, 2005

A turkey drop for Rove

Reflections on a White House Thanksgiving:
Rove works the room, shakes hands, squeezing a little too hard to remind everyone who "the architect" really is. Everyone understands, even as they furtively wipe their hands on their pants after he touches them. Rove grabs fistfuls of baby shrimp and shoves them into his mouth when he thinks no one's looking, swallows without chewing. He smells like baby aspirin and old bacon.
Fitznukkah's almost here...

Bush blooper recap
Bush's door gaffe is merely the latest in a long string of presidential bloopers. For those of you keeping score at home, Bush has now fallen off a Segway scooter, slammed his head on Marine One, dropped his dog, desecrated a flag, choked on a pretzel, asked for a potty break, not to mention being violated by a turkey and outwitted by an umbrella.
He may be a collosal failure, but you gotta admit he's always been good for a laugh (or cry, depending). When it comes to being a fuckup, he never fails to outdo himself, so in that sense he's a winner.

October 13, 2005

Totally unexpected press coverage

Disorienting the wires...
"Profanity sprinkled" my ass.

See for

UPDATE: More shameless DisO plugage, this time from (that bastion of free thought) MTV.

Total Recall Arnie

Over the din of shouting protesters kept out of an invitation-only "town hall" meeting in Santa Barbara, Mr. Schwarzenegger appealed for help in passing a package of propositions on November's ballot.
The Governator made an impromptu, very hush hush visit to SB today to promote his special election agenda. Like all things Schwarzenegger, the appearance was totally transparent and democratic--you could only find out the location and the time if you RSVPed, and though the governor's office was billing it as a "town hall," it was just him and his tiny contingent of SB cronies (where have I heard that strategy before...). Totally obscure location, in a MarBorg warehouse in the industrial part of downtown. MarBorg is the local trash collector--no punchline required there--and the huge hollow metal structure had acoustics perfectly suited for chanting. I think we drowned out the PA system, and that was just outside the building. We got in very briefly thanks to a (naturally) sympathetic construction worker, made some noise and migrated outside to the open end of the warehouse without much pushing and shoving. Totally exhilarating. Here's my silly audio, recorded during a live newscast today.

October 10, 2005

SB IndyMedia blitz

Darfur Freedom Fest
Howard Zinn at Campbell Hall

SB DisOrientation in the News Press

Lefty guide at UCSB urges return to student radicalism

Part liberal manifesto and part how-to manual for radicals, the first UCSB Disorientation Guide appeared on campus last week, signaling that a new season of student activism has begun.

The "Diso" guide exhorts students to become activists and points them toward campus groups on the political left. The first copies were handed out Thursday night outside Campbell Hall to students hoping to attend a packed address by pacifist historian Howard Zinn.

While the guide is clearly aimed at students, it gives Santa Barbara a snapshot of the latest generation of liberal-leaning campus activists here, and the issues they'll be marching, and chanting, and petitioning about. It's an eclectic list, from ending the war in Iraq and opposing globalism and sweatshops, to support for unisex campus restrooms designed for disabled or transgender users.

The guide is not an official UCSB publication. Its creators, eight students and former students, acknowledged that so many students have come and gone since the heyday of counterculture and anti-Vietnam movements at UCSB that many are only dimly aware of even the infamous 1970 torching of the Bank of America in Isla Vista. In an attempt to revive the spirit, but not necessarily the violence, of the "old days," the guide details the history of student activism here. The last mass event noted is a 2003 march by about 1,000 students protesting the Iraq war as part of a nationwide student walkout. Tanya Paperny, a student and guide organizer, said that is why the Diso guide is needed. "A lot of people have passion for certain issues, but never direct it to work on campus because UCSB has this reputation for being apathetic."

The guide drew some criticism before it came off the press. One contributor, a UCSB staff member, objects to some of its raw language. And the leader of College Republicans has questioned the propriety of cash contributions by some professors to help pay for printing costs.

Only 1,300 or so copies of the guide are in print, but its cyber version evidently is getting attention. Since the site was completed a few weeks ago, it has received more than 6,000 "hits," said Darwin BondGraham, a graduate student who helped organize the project.

The Diso guide covers aspects of campus life that are not seen in UCSB's official orientation materials, he said.

Similar guides have appeared recently at several universities nationwide, including Columbia, Stanford and the University of Texas at Austin. UC Berkeley has produced an online "Disorientation Zine" for 10 years. Last year, UC Santa Cruz produced a guide that was downloaded by more than 8,500 visitors, according to the UCSC guide Web site.

The self-defined radical publication at UCSB comes at a time the volume of campus discourse is rising over issues such as the war in Iraq, the presence of military recruiters on campus, the ban on affirmative action, and state funding cuts. Although only a few hundred out of 20,000 undergraduates consistently participate in grass-roots political activities, conservative and liberal student groups have been increasingly visible on campus in the past year or so. Both sides spent time this summer gearing up for the start of the fall term.

On the right, the long-established UCSB College Republicans spent part of the summer arranging to bring conservative pundit Ben Stein to UCSB on Thursday. They hope he will sway opinions ahead of an expected faculty vote later this fall on whether to keep military recruiters on campus, said Sally Marois, the UCSB College Republicans president. By the 11th day of classes, campus Republicans also conducted Support Our Troops days, gathering signatures on a banner to send to a UCSB alumnus in Iraq.

Also over the summer, the Disorientation Guide's creators solicited students, staff and others for articles and assembled the publication and Web site. "We want to help build up the antiwar movement, get the word out about different progressive organizations," said Mr. BondGraham.

The Diso guide includes biting profiles of UC regents, and commentaries on topics from feminism and corporate media to proper "queer" terminology and the value of blogs. It has interviews with the campus's "most politically active" professors, and a directory of liberal organizations on campus and in Santa Barbara.

UCSB staff member Barbara Hirsch, who co-authored a guide page listing UCSB's environmental accomplishments, lamented that the publication's raw four-letter-word language might be counterproductive. There could be a more positive way of expressing it, she said.

But Will Parrish, a former UC Santa Cruz student who brought the guide idea to Santa Barbara, defends the language. "One of the things we were trying to do is appeal to students in a way that they don't think we're part of the establishment, or what we're doing is watered down in any way."

Some UCSB professors who donated up to $100 for the guide's printing costs stepped over the line, said Ms. Marois. "I think it would be inappropriate for (the College Republicans) to have professors listed under our magazine, The Gaucho Free Press, or to give us money."

One of the donors, Dick Flacks, a sociology professor and outspoken liberal, said he has not read the guide yet. "In fact, I will probably disagree with a lot in it."

In any case, he said that he can contribute to it what he wants when he wants. He also said that he believes it is only inappropriate for professors to sponsor something "that would cause injury to the institution or individuals. I thought (the guide) was a nice project for the students to have worked on."

October 04, 2005

LA Times raises eyebrows (and eyelids)

On A14 of the LA Times, the headline reads:

DeLay Is Indicted Again' Charges Are Graver

At the bottom corner of the page below the fold, the ad reads:
For more beautiful eyes, go to an Eyelid Specialist
...This means tha tif you have droopy upper lids, baggy lower lids and fine lines and wrinkles, Dr. Fett's advanced knowledge of eyelid structure combined with years of experience as a laser eyelid specialist, can give your eyes a more natural, balanced and beautiful look.
I kid you not. Coincidence? Maybe...but a ridiculously funny one, nonetheless. DeLay--doctors may have been able to make you look a little less like Droopy, but my guess is they probably won't be able to save you from jail.

Norman Solomon at UCSB

Audio at SBIndyMedia.

October 02, 2005

Facebook's CIA ties?

The Big Brother with a Smile

The article plays six degrees of Kevin Bacon--The Facebook received $13 million in venture capital from Accel Partners--a firm whose manager sits on the board of the National Venture Capital Association alongside members of the CIA's datawarehousing group In-Q-Tel.

I'm a little skeptical, seems like a bit of a stretch...though I suppose the Facebook wouldn't need any direct government links, since it's a pretty useful, self-sustaining database on its own, and I suppose it could be used for surveillance...though the CIA must really be scrounging if they need the Facebook to keep track of radical students. Meh, if they started using it, they'd probably get addicted to it and waste all their time looking up friends from middle school anyway.

In any case, though the author comes off as a bit paranoid, he's got a good strategy:

So in the meantime I am using TheFaceBook to my advantage. I have listed myself as a “Very Conservative” intern at the Dan Quayle Library with a penchant for books by Oliver North.
I figure if they were really hell bent on going after someone like me, my CodePink alliegance is on FBI file, and that'd be enough to make me ripe for the Thought Police's picking.

One last conspiracy theory before I go--Deadly Bacteria Detected in US Capital During Anti-War March. No symptoms thus far.

Alright, removing the tin foil hat now.

Best spammed comment ever

Refreshingly honest, aren't we?:
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September 29, 2005

Make levees, not war...

Pictures from my weekend in DC...courtesy of Tizzie P.

Pink line, Metro

Audio of an interview with Medea Benjamin and more photos on SBIndyMedia

A sea of people...only knew about it cause I saw it with my own eyes, sincenaturally big media was MIA. You'd think I would've learned, or at least quit complaining by now.

In a headline that summed up the absurdity of this type of coverage, the Washington Post reported (9/25/05): "Smaller but Spirited Crowd Protests Antiwar March; More Than 200 Say They Represent Majority." Perhaps this "crowd" felt that way because they've grown accustomed to a media system that so frequently echoes their views, while keeping antiwar voices--representing the actual majority opinion--off the radar.
And as much as I hate to admit it, what really gets me is when the campus paper dismisses us by cherry-picking stories from the wires and printing them under headlines like "U.S. Soldiers Receive Praise in Pro-War Demonstration." Sent them an angry letter, but no dice. Guess I'll stick to broadcast journalism.

September 06, 2005

Katrina--Bush's Monica

The Daily Show's back in full swing--"Bush will build a billion dollar damn in Arkansas...we're fighting the water over there, so we don't have to fight it at home, in New Orleans."

[M]ost chillingly of all, this is the Law and Order and Terror government. It promised protection — or at least amelioration — against all threats: conventional, radiological, or biological. It has just proved that it cannot save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water.
You'd only hear a line like that on alternative news outlets, right? That was Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. Hot damn, we have ourselves a critical, aggressive media.

"Let them eat cake"

From DN!:
Barbara Bush: Relocation is "Working Very Well For Them"
While the federal government has been widely criticized for its slow response, former First Lady Barbara Bush told the radio show Marketplace that the relocation is "working very well" for some of those forced out of New Orleans since they were "underprivileged anyway." This is Barbara Bush speaking at the Astrodome in Houston. "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this working very well for them," Bush said.
Not surprising, coming from her. She tends to turn her nose up at unsavory news (from ThinkProgress):
Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it’s gonna happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?
That attitude is just par for the course. Recall Al Franken's hellish experience meeting Former First Lady Antoinette:
In his knee-slapping 2003 book Lies (And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them), Franken relates an encounter with Barbara Bush on a flight to Washington. After describing his unsuccessful effort to pick up a conversation with Bush--the former First Lady rebuffed each approach with, "I'm through with you"--Franken quotes several unnamed "Washington insiders," both Republicans and Democrats, who thought it was funny that Franken regarded Bush's dismissive attitude of him as a form of kidding. Franken writes that at a Bat Mitzvah in Washington soon after his Barbara Bush encounter, "I kept hearing things like: 'Oh no, she's a horrible bitch.' 'Omigod, she's the worst bitch on earth.' 'She can be very charming, but Barbara Bush is the Queen Bitch.'" Then he writes, "But another, even more interesting, insight came from everyone who knew the Bushes. They all agreed. 'Dubya is her son.' He's mean."

You'd probably be mean too if you bore someone as hated as Bush. Or maybe she raised him to be the way he is. Chicken or the egg?

September 02, 2005


Asshat Homeland Security chief:
"The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster," he said on NBC's "Today" program. "Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."
That's about as cold and ignorant as something I'm pretty sure I heard Dr. Joyce Brothers say on CNN about looters making it "difficult for us to have sympathy for hurricane victims." Though I did hear Harry Connick Jr. say during the same program that he wouldn't pass judgement on people doing what they can to survive.

September 01, 2005


From the Superdome:
"This is the most important thing they've ever done," Elliot said. "I just got back from Iraq last month. It's nothing like this. These are our people."
But it has a lot to do with Iraq, and it all ties back to the real basis for the occupation (which Bush kind of acknowledged, no?). Only you can't precision strike a force of nature--unless you count the reckless assault on the environment that precipitated the most deadly storm this country's ever seen.

They were literally knee deep in shit, with reported incidents of rape and child molestation. I share the anger of those who have rightfully dubbed the flooded areas Lake George, as tribute to the man that diverted their levee funds for the invasion and remained on vacation with feigned sympathy while they suffered.

August 21, 2005

The "little woman who stopped the war"

Sheehan has become the lone voice that kick-started a chorus. Whether Bush agrees to her demand for a meeting (and it is unlikely he will) is now largely irrelevant. The political legacy left by her summer of protest will last far longer than the ramshackle tents of Camp Casey lining the roads outside Bush's ranch. 'This is now about far more than Cindy Sheehan. She has given people the confidence to speak out about the war that they didn't have before. Finally, its OK in America to be anti-war,' Zunes said.
It's the Democrats' turn to join the choir. Conyers is leading the way, as usual, along with Kucinich. Do the rest of them really want to get shown up by the father of freedom fries?

August 15, 2005


Though it's been almost a year since it happened, I still think back on a conversation about "liberal education" that I had with the Fund for American Studies organizers over lunch in the cafeteria that gave rise to "freedom fries." They were justifying the crazily ideological curriculum of the program's courses as being a way to counterbalance bias in university classrooms everywhere else. At the time, I didn't know what to say beyond my feeling that professors at UCSB were liberal, but still gave the other side, while we didn't even know another side existed at CATO or in our rented classroom at Georgetown. In fact, charges of bias and principles of academic freedom were so on my professor's minds when I returned to SB that they almost gave preference to students with conservative viewpoints because they were running scared from the David Horowitzes of the right.

It's frustrating to hear even left-leaning students accept this notion of liberal bias in all of academia. But it's always good to see concrete evidence to the contrary:

The campus Left, which is still organized for the most part by students and community activists, increasingly finds itself facing off against seasoned conservative strategists. And while progressive student groups are mostly self-funded, by the mid-1990s roughly $20 million dollars were being pumped into the campus Right annually, according to People for the American Way.

That money and expertise are directed at four distinct goals: training conservative campus activists; supporting right-wing student publications; indoctrinating the next generation of culture warriors; and demonstrating the liberal academic "bias" that justifies many conservatives' reflexive anti-intellectualism.

Their argument is false, but they've got a forumlaic, well-funded strategy--and that's why they can round up kids and perpetuate such lies.


For someone who admittedly has a pretty shameful history of consumer whoredom, I'm turning into an almost hyper-conscious consumer, trying to spend money selectively and shop on principle. I'm pretty successful when it comes to food--it's what I spend the most on, and I try to go fair trade and organic all the way, partly because of the Global Exchange influence, and it also doesn't hurt that I'm living at home for now and I've got the resources to do it. Buying with a conscience can be difficult since it's often pretty expensive, and the majority of shoppers get priced out right off the bat. If you can afford it, you've still got to know where to look--and even then it's all about where you live--I doubt you'd have much success finding worker friendly and environmentally friendly foods in places like Alabama where strip malls and chain restaurants dominate.

I know where my food comes from, so you'd think I'd be just as careful about where I get my clothes. I'm more than happy to spend an extra buck at places like American Apparel (though Dov Charney is a total douchebag and the store is totally sizist--you call THAT a large?!) if it means I can wear something with the confidence that it wasn't sewn in a maquiladora. I also know the value of thrifting (since you're not directly funding exploitation when you buy second hand), but I lack the patience and skill it takes to do it often. In retrospect, I probably have spent more time researching corporate practices than I have on picking through racks of clothes at stores you can be certain donate to good causes. It's just a matter of finding those places. A lot of people, myself included, just opt for what's easy though:

While some girls really did get that embroidered blouse in the former Soviet bloc, most of them have patched together their summer wardrobes at the Gap, Urban Outfitters, or United Colors of Benneton. And most of them have done so in blissful -- or willful -- ignorance of where their clothing actually came from. Most people are at least vaguely aware that much of our clothing is produced in conditions antithetical to the values of "one world" bohemianism. Aside from the "Made In ___" tag that identifies its country of origin, it's impossible to tell just by looking at a piece of clothing whether it was manufactured by sweatshop workers. But odds are that it was.

It's pretty self-destructive--I get totally discouraged reading about abhorrent labor practices at every store that's convenient, and then I just end up feeling guilty giving in and buying the easiest (and often most expensive) thing when my jeans split down the middle (which they did last week at summer camp when I tried to do a cartwheel). There's no excuse really, I do know where this stuff is coming from, and I'm just violating my own principles by continuing to shop out of habit.

ANYWAY, now that this has turned into more of a self-flagellating live journal-esque post than anything else, I'm off to find a thrift store directory.

August 14, 2005

The noise machine and its soldering engine

I was talking politics (surprise surprise) over a bottle of wine last night with some friends in the city, when a girl I’d just met said something that gave some real insight into the despair plaguing the left. She told us she was too overwhelmed and too disgusted by conservative tactics to even join the conversation. “You can’t win,” she said.

It was just so indicative of what’s been going on with the broader movement—we’ve been attacked on all fronts by a pervasive messaging machine, and all we’ve resorted to is (at least what comes off as) reactionary bitching. I think everyone knows what the right is all about--though having lived at their policy nerve center, it could just be that I’ve been conditioned to pick up on their arguments. Still, it's never ceased to amaze me how consistent and easily recognizable right-wing, particularly free market messaging is. And the fact that I unwittingly ended up at Heritage alone proves how effective they are at drawing people in—even though their hosting me had the unintended effect of pushing me further in the opposite direction.

Ironically, the people with the most regressive politics have maintained this facade that they've got the most coherent and visionary ideas--proof that the left’s lagging on positive messaging (hopelessly abstract as that is) that all we've done is either rail against them or throw up our hands in disgust after seeing how far we've gone in the wrong direction. The fringe has had absolute control, and solid Frankian backlash rhetoric to convince everyone they’re the ones who are marginalized. With strategies that rival the Chewbacca defense, and it’s enough to make any lefty's head explode.

But all this is changing—in spite of themselves, in spite of democrat’s shortcomings as an opposition party, and even with all the republican’s catch phrases and law-bending strategery and corporate funding, they’re losing it:

The approval rate for Mr. Bush's handling of Iraq plunged to 34 percent in last weekend's Newsweek poll - a match for the 32 percent that approved L.B.J.'s handling of Vietnam in early March 1968...

Paul Hackett, a Democrat who called the president a "chicken hawk," received 48 percent of the vote in exactly the kind of bedrock conservative Ohio district that decided the 2004 election for Mr. Bush...

Only someone as adrift from reality as Mr. Bush would need to be told that a vacationing president can't win a standoff with a grief-stricken parent commandeering TV cameras and the blogosphere 24/7.
And polls show some serious disapproval across party lines. Now isn’t the time for silence or infighting. There needs to be focus on helping their self-destruction along.

August 07, 2005

Go Cindy, go!

"I'll camp on his lawn in D.C. until he has the courtesy and the integrity and the compassion to talk to somebody whose life he has ruined." -Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey Sheehan, killed in combat April 4, 2004
At last, some well deserved, long overdue national attention. Cindy is a firey, loving, amazing woman, and she's completely invincible. That's what makes her vigil genius--not even Fox would dare debase or attempt to discredit her. She gave her eldest son to the supposed cause of defending this country, only to have her grief be amplified when she learned his sacrifice was unfounded and in vain.

To thank her for her patience and generosity in voicing a radio spot for CODEPINK, we did some press calls at the office Friday to help get local coverage of her trip to Crawford. I wasn't really getting my hopes up--we'd had one defeat after another in our media campaign to get Cindy's call to end the occupation on conservative airwaves, and though it seemed like it had a lot of potential at first, organizing around Downing Street had become a lost cause.

I was pretty suprised to see that her message had made headlines on Yahoo! news. Then there was a piece on CNN, and now even has a story, under the stark, even disrespectful headline "Dead Marine's Mom Protests at Bush Ranch" (although they naturally had to juxtapose her story with that of a military father who supports the occupation).

At least if Rush won't hear her out, the saner members of this country will have the chance to lend her an ear.

Her letter to President Bush remains one of the most powerful statements against the Iraq war to date.

Hard work is seeing your oldest son, your brave and honorable man-child go off to a war that had, and still has, no basis in reality.

Hard work is worrying yourself gray and not being able to sleep for 2 weeks because you don’t know if your child is safe.

Hard work is seeing your son’s murder on CNN one Sunday evening while you’re enjoying the last supper you’ll ever truly enjoy again.Hard work is having three military officers come to your house a few hours later to confirm the aforementioned murder of your son…your first born…your kind and gentle sweet baby.

Hard work is burying your child 46 days before his 25th birthday.

Hard work is holding your other three children as they lower the body of their big “baba” into the ground. Hard work is not jumping in the grave with him and having the earth cover you both.

I'd join her in Texas if I could. CODEPINK has ways you can be there with her and show your solidarity. Get updates from the Camp Casey blog.

"The beginning of the end of the occupation of Iraq was on August 6, 2005, and in of all places, Crawford, Tx." -Cindy Sheehan

"Don't fill the frontlines of their war, those assholes aren't worth dying for" --Ani

July 26, 2005

Wal-Mart finds its conscience?!

I kid! But yes, the evil empire is, believe it or not, experimenting with ways to make its supercenters more green so that one day it might be more of a "jolly green giant" than the soulless, shit spewing, kleptomaniacal Godzilla that it's fashioned itself after thusfar.

Wal-Mart has bigger fish to fry than localized energy inefficiency. Swapping lightbulbs and recycling at a couple stores in Texas won't do anything to mend its massive crushing footprint and oppressive reshaping of the global labor market. Grist, punchy and funny as hell as always, captures the irony--"energy-efficient LED lights will illuminate the low-paid, uninsured, non-unionized Wal-Mart 'associates' on the floor below."

July 23, 2005

In the pink

Tabling today was a huge success with the ladies of CODEPINK outside Barbara Lee's town hall meeting in Oakland. There was standing room only, and 4-500 people were actually turned away from the theater while Medea, Barbara Lee, reps from After Downing Street, Goldstar Families, Vets for Peace, and Daniel Ellsberg spoke. I made sure Ellsberg was on the panel--I'm allowed some bragging rights, considering Barbara Lee's office had been trying to get in touch with him, and his office contacted me first about speaking at a rally we had planned but had since cancelled. In spite of how much Barbara Lee's office tried to distance themselves from CODEPINK in planning the event, and how many times we got shut down (the only time they'd talk to me is when I called "on behalf of Dr. Ellsberg"--we're lucky we even got to table!), I made sure Ellsberg got the invitation from Lee's office. But that's beside the point--everyone at the event showed us an overwhelming amount of support, and most importantly, the impeachment pie was a smash hit.

July 21, 2005

Coffee, anyone?

By now, everyone's probably heard of the GTA San Andreas "hot coffee" downloadable mod, which integrates an interactive sex scene into regular gameplay. Senator Clinton has her panties in a twist over it, and is pressing for an investigation:

We should all be deeply disturbed that a game which now permits the simulation of lewd sexual acts in an interactive format with highly realistic graphics has fallen into the hands of young people across the country," Clinton wrote in a letter to the head of the Federal Trade Commission.
Honestly, Hillary--I realize you don't want the kiddies taking lessons from pixelated felons, but if you really want something to worry about, isn't the game's graphic violence potentially more harmful?

There's video of the mod on the GTA website...yes, I was curious to see what all the commotion was about, I'm a pervert. Figured it had to be pretty good to get Washington's dander up, and besides--The Sims 2 just doesn't cut it. "Woohoo"? I mean, c'mon! The mod is really pretty silly--the main character remains fully clothed in jeans and a wifebeater, and whispers sweet nothings like "you know I'm not insecure, but tell me I'm great." I'm not encouraging this stuff in video games, especially when it's in breach of some FCC agreement and comes off as denigrating to women (who are already subjugated in the video game world...but seriously let's focus on mending those things in our world first, eh?). Don't you think there are bigger things to be concerned about? Hillary, instead of wasting energy regulating how gamers' get their jollies, why not jump on the call for an investigation into whether Bush disregarded intelligence and misled Congress before invading Iraq? There are real felons to take care of, and real lives at stake. You can spend time cracking down on digital perps after you get to the bottom of true crime in Washington.

It's this kind of prudery and focus on what ultimately, in the grand scheme of things (uh, perpetual killing and occupation?), are trivial distractions. This is the type of stuff that conservatives used to detract from bigger questions and policies and undermine decent leadership when your husband was President. And now it's even more important to pick our battles and not divert attention from hammering the most unaccountable leaders we've seen.

I sincerely hope you're not doing this just to kowtow to conservatives, hoping to come off as the "moral" candidate for a 2008 race. There are far greater moral matters at stake.

July 20, 2005

The high price of low cost

Robert Greenwald's next project takes on Wal-Mart. Check out the trailer here.

Also, an NYT article shows how more visionary companies like CostCo are (with any luck) shifting the Wal-Mart paradigm and leading the way to low prices at no cost to their workers.
Good wages and benefits are why Costco has extremely low rates of turnover and theft by employees, he said. And Costco's customers, who are more affluent than other warehouse store shoppers, stay loyal because they like that low prices do not come at the workers' expense. "This is not altruistic," he said. "This is good business."
It has to draw more than just the affluent though--they're clearly not among the consumers who have no choice but to shop at places that exacerbate class and economic stratification. The CostCo model has to become industry wide and affordable for all sectors of the labor market before victims of Walmartization can see results.

Wal-Mart has warped Ford's original business ideals. At the inception of the assembly line, products were priced and workers wages were set so that employees could purchase what they made. Those that work at Wal-Mart have no choice but to shop where they work, buying the lowest quality products and locking themselves into perpetual poverty. It's the far more insidious corporate reincarnation of the truck system.

July 23rd Downing Street Day of Action

On Saturday, July 23rd, members of Congress and activists around the country are organizing a day of action to call attention to the explosive evidence of government manipulation revealed in the Downing Street memo.

The day of action coincides with the 3rd anniversary of the controversial British intelligence minutes which verify that “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” to justify the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq. The memo demonstrates that Bush was already committed to going to war in the summer of 2002, despite contrary assertions to the public and Congress. Although its contents potentially prove that the President committed an impeachable act by misleading Congress, millions of Americans have never heard of the document. Events on July 23rd aim to raise public awareness on the implications of the Downing Street memo.

Participants around the country will be encouraged to promote coverage of the Downing Street Minutes by their local media, gather signatures on Congressman John Conyers' letter to the President, and lobby for a Resolution of Inquiry in both the House and Senate. This would create a select committee to investigate reports of a pre-war deal between the United Kingdom and the United States and evidence that pre-war intelligence was intentionally manipulated.

Over 300 events are listed on an online map at Prominent speakers and ordinary citizens will hold public forums, perform dramatic recreations of the Downing Street meeting, and host house parties and study circles. Congressman Conyers' office has organized more than 100 house parties through The Congressman and former Ambassador Joseph Wilson will participate in a national conference call with attendees from 4 to 4:30 p.m. ET on the 23rd. For details, contact Jonathan Godfrey at 202-744-7441 or

Members of Congress will either host or participate in at least eight events of their own around the country on or around the 23rd. Here are some details:

Congressman John Conyers, Jr.
Wayne State University Law School Auditorium
Meeting Local Start Time: 2:00pm
471 W. Palmer Street
Detroit, Michigan 48202

Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Grand Lake Theatre
Meeting Local Start Time: 11:00am
3200 Grand Avenue
Oakland, California 94610

Congressmen Jim McDermott
Seattle Labor Temple
Meeting Local Start Time: 1:00pm
2800 First Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98121

Congresswoman Maxine Waters
Covenant Worship Center at Legacy Hall
Meeting Local Start Time: 12:00pm
425 South La Brea Avenue
Inglewood, California 90301
CODEPINK will prepare a performance
10am-11am, will gather at the
CODEPINK office, 2010 Linden Ave

Go to AfterDowningStreet for more.

UPDATE: CODEPINK got the go ahead from Congresswoman Barbara Lee's office to do some tabling at the Oakland event on the 23rd (like we'd be stopped anyway)...come by for some impeachment cobbler and rallying!!

July 16, 2005

The way things should be

Did some grocery shopping with the fam this morning at the Ferry Market in the city. The market's right on the water--shadowed by the Bay Bridge, with Telegraph's wild parrots presiding over the produce .
I'm not sure if it's something uniquely San Francisco (hopefully it's much greater than that), but there's always this amazing, almost palpable sense of community at the market. Everyone shows such deference to one another. Strangers interact warmly, regardless of age or background, without any underlying intolerance. Though the market is populated mostly by lefties, I think eating good food and supporting local farmers is something we can all agree on; bringing the family farm to the city is a concrete way to bridge the cultural divide. The market's also a great place to witness progressive purchasing power, with everyone buying responsibly--a great alternative to WalMartization, and a model for a sustainable future.

July 12, 2005

Durbin almost redeems himself

Though Senator Dick Durbin may have come off as an unprincipled pissant cry baby when he apologized to republicans for his comments on Gitmo, he was definitely on his game while grilling Kenneth "advocacy is a big word" Tomlinson, Chair of the CPB. Now if only he'd stood up to the big guns.

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: What was Mr. Mann's expertise? Why did you happen to hire him? According to Senator Dorgan who’s seen the raw date, he was paid thousands of dollars, his data riddled with spelling errors was faxed to you from a Hallmark store in downtown Indianapolis. What is this Mann's background for judging a program like Moyers’s program and whether it’s liberal or not?
KENNETH TOMLINSON: Well, he worked for twenty years for the National Journalism Center, which is a 401(c)(3) organization.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: National Journalism Center?
KENNETH TOMLINSON: National Journalism Center.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: What is that? I don’t --
KENNETH TOMLINSON: But the point of watching it –
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Excuse me, what is the National Journalism Center?
KENNETH TOMLINSON: It’s a center here in Washington that found internships for --
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: And they're straight down the middle of the road, moderate centrist group, right and left?
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: Well, I got to get to the basic question here. I won't go through the list of some of Mr. Moyers's more liberal guests -- Frank Gaffney, Grover Norquist, Richard Viguerie, Paul Gigot – on his liberal program --
KENNETH TOMLINSON: It is our experience --
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: But let me ask you this if I can: Did you feel that it was your responsibility or authority to go out and put together the “Wall Street Editorial Page” show and to find subsidy for that? Did you feel that that was your responsibility to do?
KENNETH TOMLINSON: I felt that the law required us to reflect balance in our current affairs programming. I was not the only one involved in encouraging a program that represented a diverse point of view from the Moyers show.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: So following Mr. Moyers’s comments in St. Louis, can we expect you to do the same for The Nation magazine? Are you going to raise $5 million to make sure they have a show?
KENNETH TOMLINSON: I don't see -- I don't see today we have a balance problem. We have a 30-minute show, “Now,” and we have a 30-minute show, The Wall Street Journal. That's balanced. Let the people decide. Balance is common sense.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: But, Mr. Tomlinson, the people, I said at the outset, already decided. They thought that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was presenting balance. And they thought that, you know, they gave it high approval rating. You have perceived a problem here which the American people obviously don't perceive.

July 10, 2005

Fox plays Anchorman

Newsweek has picked up on evidence that Karl Rove was behind the retaliatory outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. Try as they might, the wingnuts can't use the old "Newsweek got it wrong" defense on this one (not that they could on the Koran desecration story either) . As for Fox? They've got better news to report--apparently, a panda giving birth in a DC zoo is more important than evidence that the most powerful unelected official in the U.S. committed a federal offense. FoxNews--only you could make Ron Burgundy look like a journalist. How about a nice panda punch in your puss?

Oh, and the White House Press Corps? Sack up and pitch Scotty a curveball. Russell Mokhiber and Helen Thomas are the only ones that would ask any tough questions. But Christ, someone's got to question the puppetmaster's integrity.

July 04, 2005

Peace is patriotic

Reclaim the 4th--declare independence from tyranny.
Bush weenie roast anyone? CODEPINK has got the goods.

And from Common Dreams, an article on progressive patriotism by UCSB's Dick Flacks:
Indeed, throughout the nation' s history, many American radicals and progressive reformers proudly asserted their patriotism. To them, America stood for basic democratic values - economic and social equality, mass participation in politics, free speech and civil liberties, elimination of the second-class citizenship of women and racial minorities, a welcome mat for the world ' s oppressed people. The reality of corporate power, right-wing xenophobia, and social injustice only fueled progressives ' allegiance to these principles and the struggle to achieve them.

July 02, 2005

Chicago Tribune plays lapdog

The Chicago Tribune published an editorial, "About that memo..." on June 29th. The author's stumbled into Bush's alternate universe. In defense of the floundering occupation, or what is deemed "building a representative democratic government for Iraq" (truly representative to its people if built in the interests of another country, eh?) the author struggles to downplay the Downing Street Minutes as mere evidence of government "business as usual," rather than acknowledging it as the smoking gun that it is.

The author is guilty of the same mistakes the media made 3 years ago at the time of the DSM's writing. He still attempts to use 9/11 as justification for the war in Iraq, though Iraq was not the hotbed of terrorism it is now prior to invasion. He take the same defensive stance big media outlets have taken, acting as though objective inquiry and equal time were offered to peace advocates, when papers like the Washington Post and New York Times (both of which were forced to do mea culpas after the invasion) did little more than beat the drums of war.

But hey, if you can't blame the liberal media, there's always the UN--the author tries to place responsibility for the war on the international body, saying they could've stopped the war if it "had been willing to enforce its resolution." The author forgets that the US ignored UN recommendations for further weapons inspection and attacked preemptively.

UN weapons inspector Hans Blix reported in detail on Iraq's failure to cooperate with inspectors. If Iraq had cooperated, it would have defused any U.S. intention to go to war. Iraq did not.

The author neglects another British memo released in the Times after the minutes, showing the Brits scrambling to push a UN ultimatum on Saddam to justify the illegal debacle in which they would be complicit. The UN's involvement is a lame excuse--the administration was determined to override their requests, as they see the institution as little more than a tool subject to nothing more than their own foreign policy decisions.

Tony Blair has acknowledged the authenticity of the memo. If the DSM were not the smoking gun, the media would not be so hard pressed to silence and discount it by regurgitating the party line and passing it off on the body that tried to halt the invasion.

June 30, 2005

On the brink of a CAFTA vote

The Senate sends the free trade agreement to the floor with a favorable recommendation amid news that the Department of Labor withheld information on labor rights in the countries signing onto the agreement:

The Associated Press is reporting that the Labor Department kept secret for more than a year government-funded studies that could hinder the passage of CAFTA -- the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The studies had concluded that several of the countries involved in the trade negotiations have poor working conditions and have failed to protect workers' rights. The studies' conclusions contrast with the administration's arguments that Central American countries have made enough progress on such issues to warrant a free-trade deal with the United States. The studies were conducted by an outside contractor -- the International Labor Rights Fund. According to the AP, the Labor Department instructed the contractor to remove the reports from its Web site, ordered it to retrieve paper copies before they became public, banned release of new information from the reports, and even told the contractor it couldn't discuss the studies with outsiders. The Labor Department said such moves were taken because the agency had concluded the contractor had "failed to meet the academic rigor expected."
Stop CAFTA by calling your rep. In California, Lofgren, Eshoo and Davis are on the fence.
Get educated about the impact of trade liberalization.

June 26, 2005

Pride Week 2005

Between going into the Global Exchange/CODEPINK office and Pride Week festivities, I've spent almost more time in San Francisco this week than at home...Bart is my new love. DC Metro, I'm sorry--you just don't have the cooshy seats I need.

Went to the Castro yesterday to watch the Dykes on Bikes parade. I was totally awestruck, all these righteous babes, engines roaring, and topless girlfriends in was just so inspiring, hundreds of self-assured, powerful--but not aggressive--women together, asserting their right to be there and to create a safe space. Everyone was respectful and very peaceful, despite the crowd reaching almost riot-sized proportions. People in apartments overhead waved and cheered and held signs like "I came out of a vagina" and "Fags <3>

The parade marched conveniently in front of Good Vibrations, and my girlfriends and I all went in and spent an hour and a half testing the merchandise (well, not testing testing) and flipping through how-to books and coffee table art books. That was also a super comfortable environment, everyone was so accepting and the salespeople were very approachable and knowledgeable. I found out Good Vibes is actually a co-op, which makes it even better...should've applied for a job there, it's right around the corner from GX.

I <3>

June 21, 2005

Freeloader Foundation

Sky Andrecheck from Campus Progress talk about his lunch with the dark side:
Come to think of it, I was surprised that these conservatives would take the food at all. I could still hear the words of Senator DeMint ringing in my ears, telling me that when people are dependent on food stamps and subsidized school lunches, they become helpless. Yet when these wealthy conservatives were offered a free lunch, they seemed to have no problem loading up their plates.
While my economics professor was preaching that "there's no free lunch," I took advantage of as many Heritage luncheons as possible, though I had to scrounge for crumbs after the republicans gorged themselves. Of course this is assuming I still had an appetite for cheap Chinese food or the Subway subs after a heavy dose of right-wing propaganda. I think they might've reserved the orange chicken to the German exchange students...naturally that's the only thing Heritage would think to recycle.

June 20, 2005

Some harmless fun

Most forwarded Yahoo! news story of the day. Yes, it's about sex--what other news would the American public find fit to foward?:

Brain Areas Shut Off During Female Orgasm

"The fact that there is no deactivation in faked orgasms means a basic part of a real orgasm is letting go. Women can imitate orgasm quite well, as we know, but there is nothing really happening in the brain," said neuroscientist Gert Holstege, presenting his findings Monday to the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Trust him, he has experience with this sort of thing.

Good old yeller journalism

Big media outlets are still failing to address what many suggest could be “the Pentagon Papers of our time.” TV and print media have downplayed the memo, insisting that it contains “nothing new.” They’ve tried to justify their lack of critical attention by saying it was “conventional wisdom” that Bush wanted to invade Iraq. But as FAIR points out, if Americans knew the administration’s ultimate goal was to attack, regardless of intelligence,

- Why would Bush have lied and said war was a last resort?
- Why would the White House have needed to justify invasion by misleading Americans (as they still do) into believing that Saddam had ties to al-Qaeda?
-Why did the media have to selectively report information on the existence of WMD?

If administration plans were “conventional wisdom” outside the beltway, why would polls have shown a bamboozled American public—the majority of whom were in no hurry to go into Iraq—who were confused over the reasons for going to war even more than a year into the occupation? How is solid evidence of a rush to invade, without adequate intelligence or an exit strategy, not shocking and newsworthy?

While many news outlets have brushed off the Downing Street Memo and the hearing held in Washington to discuss issues brought up by the memo, others have offered gross misrepresentations. Even that bastion of the “liberal media,” The New York Times, dismissed those who attended the meeting—including distinguished members of Congress, prominent lawyers, diplomats, and families of victims—as less than credible “antiwar activists.”

But some of the most irresponsible and spiteful coverage of the “Downing Street Memo” and the Democrats’ hearing has come from the Washington Post. Dana Milbank’s June 17 editorial, 'Democrats Play House to Rally Against the War,' distorted facts and mocked democrats for “taking a trip to the land of make believe,” belittling their legitimate inquiry into Bush’s reasons for risking the lives of soldiers and civilians as “antiwar theatrics.”

Conyers responded with a letter to the Post, slamming Milbank’s false claims and derisive tone. The Congressman refuted the notion that the memo has been unimportant to Democrats in Congress, pointing out that at least four representatives—including the minority leader—have brought the memo to the floor, and more than one hundred have signed Conyers’ letter to the president. If more Democrats were unable to further show their support at the hearing, Conyers said, it was likely because Republicans scheduled an unheard of 11 consecutive floor votes during the forum and refused to grant Democrats anything more than a small room in the basement of the Capitol for the meeting.

Watch for a CodePink media alert on this...

June 18, 2005


The Nation sees light at the end of the tunnel--"This really can be the beginning of the end of a disastrous war and a bankrupt national security strategy."

"It's the very beginning of a new wave of activism on this war. There's a real sense that something is beginning to move."
--Tom Andrews, fmr Maine Rep. and executive director of Win Without War, Los Angeles Times, Friday June 17, 2005

Poll numbers have been encouraging...success now hinges upon pressuring big media into giving ::gasp:: objective coverage and inquiry...AP finally caught up, let's see if networks will follow.

June 17, 2005

"Sit and Spin Zone"

Faux News was really in fine form yesterday. They demonized Durbin, polled their misled viewers to "prove" Americans want to keep Gitmo open (recall that 80% of people who got their news from Fox had misperceptions about the war in Iraq), and aired car chases. Basically they did everything in their power to avoid talking about yesterday's public hearing on the Downing Street memo (which Yahoo! headlines only described this morning as "Hearings sought on 'Downing Street Memo'").

My favorite clip was online though--in a feeble attempt to write off Kucinich's bipartisan coalition calling for an Iraq exit strategy, Fox called republican Reps. Walter Jones and Ron Paul the more "eccentric members" of the GOP (citing an unnamed source--as usual).

Eccentric? Sure, if you're talking right winger--after all, Walter Jones is the father of "freedom fries" (and don't forget "freedom toast"!).

"I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there."

Why the change of heart? He attended the funeral of sergeant killed in Iraq and was moved by the words of the GI's widow. Perhaps if we were seeing more of these flag draped caskets, more Americans and lawmakers would reconsider the occupation.

Until then, Fox will do its damndest to spin poll numbers, like yesterday's CBS poll showing only 37% of Americans approve of Bush's handling of the war. Here comes the PR campaign...

June 11, 2005

Drum Major Institute

"Too often, the left operates in silos. There are the people who work on health care, and those who focus on economic development, and the environment, and voting rights, and too often, we operate in isolation from each other. We need to challenge those tired orthodoxies. That’s DMI’s mission as an organization." -Andrea Batista Schlesinger, Executive Director of DMI

Lame excuse for an illegal war

via Raw Story--another secret memo just released by The Times shows that Tony Blair's cabinet felt it was “necessary to create the conditions” that would legitimate the invasion of Iraq. They knew the US would be using UK bases, and they would be complicit in any US undertaking, so they knew they'd better come up with a legal excuse to go to war. Given that "regime change" isn't adequate justification for invasion under international law (the memo made sure to note US unilateralism on this--"US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community"), their only option was to make sure Saddam refused to cooperate with UN inspections. Funny, given that "Blair and Bush...repeated during their Washington summit last week, that they turned to the UN in order to avoid having to go to war." A UN ultimatum was their only chance.

AMERICAblog has more.

Democrats led by Conyers are scheduled to hold a hearing this Thursday on the Downing Street memo--this one ought to be used as additional evidence. We demand answers.

June 09, 2005


From Common Dreams--keep your eyes peeled for developments on this. Corporate media sure as hell isn't gonna do it for you, after successfully ignoring the Downing Street Memo and murmurs of impeachment as 160,000 Americans sign a letter by John Conyers to demand Bush address the damning evidence that he sent us to war on false pretenses...

ANYWAY, here's the newsflash--as if there wasn't enough to prove that Ohio was Florida 2000 Redux:
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur...during a statement on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday night, said "there is a major political scandal that is unfolding in the state of Ohio."

"The governor of our state has permitted millions and millions of dollars of workers' money from the Ohio Worker's Compensation Fund to be invested in high-risk investments"...

Democrats such as Miss Kaptur and U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain say the latest scandals mirror problems in Washington and even call into question the results of the 2004 presidential election...

"I think the George Bush campaign raised a lot of illegal money in Ohio," Mr. Brown said. "That puts the election in some question. I know these people stop at nothing and I know their incompetence kept a significant number of people from getting to vote."
Fixing intelligence, fixing elections, fixing social security...right wingers sure are industrious little buggers. Kinda like termites.

Back to studying for my oxymoronic global business ethics final--so many Enrons and WorldComs and Tycos, so little time. Oy.

June 07, 2005

They don't call it BJU for nothing

via Raw Story--Bob Jones University bans Abercrombie and Fitch from its oh so daring "leave room for Jesus in that ankle length moo moo, ladies" dress code, citing "antagonism to Christ."

BJU does, however, fully endorse Urban Outfitters' Jesus friendly "Jesus is my homeboy" shirts.

Funny, the certifiably most uptight school in the US didn't seem to have a problem with cross-dressing among members of its squeaky clean admissions staff:

Q: How did you meet your wife?
A: We sang in an opera (Aida) on campus and had to dress as Egyptians. She must have really liked me because I had to wear a blue dress and dark eye shadow the whole time.

That's hot repressed lovin right there.

The American Daydream

Going along with material I'm studying for a contempory world systems final...
From Bob Herbert of the NYT:

Put the myth of the American Dream aside. The bottom line is that it's becoming increasingly difficult for working Americans to move up in class. The rich are freezing nearly everybody else in place, and sprinting off with the nation's bounty.

Economic mobility in the United States - the extent to which individuals and families move from one social class to another - is no higher than in Britain or France, and lower than in some Scandinavian countries. Maybe we should be studying the Scandinavian dream.

As far as the Bush administration is concerned, the gap between the rich and the rest of us is not growing fast enough. An analysis by The Times showed the following:

"Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes - a minimum of $87 million in 2000, the last year for which the government will release such data - now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to $75,000. Those earning more than $10 million a year now pay a lesser share of their income in these taxes than those making $100,000 to $200,000."

June 05, 2005

Too close to home quote of the day

"[The United States was] still in the intellectual thrall of the megalomaniacal and self-righteous clergyman-president who gave to the American nation the blasphemous conviction that it, like he himself, had been created by God 'to show the way to the nations of the world how they shall walk in the paths of liberty.'" -international-relations critic William Pfaff on WWI Wilsonian politics

June 04, 2005

Jar Jar Bush

Despite the fact that I've always been more of a Trekkie, and the movie was a flop:

(Thanks to David for this one.)

Wonder if any of the fans are political enough to strike back (yea yea, pun intended) for the misappropriation of "Star Wars" to describe weaponizing space? Or better yet, did Lucas sell the rights? His politics are pretty apparent:

"I'm more on the liberal side of things," he says...Lucas' own geopolitics can sound pretty bleak: "All democracies turn into dictatorships—but not by coup. The people give their democracy to a dictator, whether it's Julius Caesar or Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. Ultimately, the general population goes along with the idea...One day Princess Leia and her friends woke up and said, 'This isn't the Republic anymore, it's the Empire. We are the bad guys. Well, we don't agree with this. This democracy is a sham, it's all wrong.'"

Return of the Sith's not so conspicuous political message is his own hyper-commercialized way of calling out the imperialists (though I'm afriad they'll never be as conscientious as Leia)...probably why it's so easy to draw parallels like this (like you've never seen it...posted on every TA's door in the humanities and social sciences building at UCSB for the last 2 years...Christ it's really been that long):

June 02, 2005

Roosevelt goes big time

The Times did a story on the Roosevelt Institution last week. Been following them for a while, did a story a while back and considered starting a branch of the think tank at UCSB before I got into the idea of starting a paper with Tizzie P instead. I met the guys from Stanford at the State Dems conference--they're very outgoing and ambitious, and as the article pointed out, "show no signs of an inferiority complex" (to say the least). Good to see that progressive students are getting national attention. While I agree with and enthusiastic about the premise of the Institution, that it act as a means to bring forth students' energy and untapped intellectual capital, I'm concerned that some students might get turned off by the perception of Ivy League elite leadership. It'll be especially important for Roosevelt to give public institutions a mouthpiece as they grow.

May 31, 2005

A little too ironic, doncha think?

You can't make this stuff up:

"There's an alternative to the destruction of life," he said. "But the stem cell issue is really one of federal funding, that's the issue before us, and that is whether or not we use taxpayers' money to destroy life. ... I don't believe we should." -Bush at a Rose Garden press conference today

Oh wait, you mean this life?

5 day old embryo

Gotcha, then it's okay to destroy this life.

Iraqi children

No wonder Rove has to ball gag Bush. He indicts himself and his war every time he opens that pie hole of his.

May 29, 2005

I love wi-fi in the summertime


Not so fast, Scottie

I was sitting next to Common Dreams' Russell Mokhiber at a White House press conference, sneering at Scott McLellan last November when Mokhiber posed this question:

Kofi Annan in September said that the Iraq war is an illegal war. If it is an illegal war, then the 100,000 who have died there – according to the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health – are victims of war crimes. Now, the President is going to Canada later this year. And the largest circulation newspaper in Canada (the Toronto Star) printed a column yesterday titled “Should Canada Indict Bush?” – raising the question of a war crimes prosecution. They have a war crimes law in Canada. And I’m wondering –

Scott McLellan: Do you have a question or is it just a statement of opinion?

Mokhiber: No, this is the question. Has the White House counsel looked at the President’s legal exposure to a war crimes prosecution?

Scott McLellan: It is a ridiculous question that you bring up. You were out on the Nader campaign at the time that this issue came up. It was addressed at that time. And I’m not going to go through it again.

So...Bush is immune to any sort of prosecution, eh? Then what do you have to say about this?

Coalition of citizen groups seek formal inquiry into whether Bush acted illegally in push for Iraq war

This doesn't mean Bush is headed for the Hague, but a Resolution of Inquiry is the first step of an investigation into whether his offenses warrant impeachment.

"White House press secretary Scott McClellan waived off the letter, saying he had 'no need to respond.'"

We'll see.

May 28, 2005

Nonproliferation advocates step up efforts in face of arms race threat

(This story is posted on SB IndyMedia and might air for Free Speech next week...assuming it isn't out of date.)

News of a formal push to engage the Star Wars program has fueled fears of an impending arms race perpetuated by university ties to weapons making.

The U.S. Air Force is seeking President Bush's approval to implement policy that will solidify plans to weaponize space. The request has sparked concerns of the start of another arms race. Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, promotes efforts to halt the star wars program.

"In order to pay for Star Wars they’re going to have to cut education, healthcare, job training,
environmental clean-up, these are the programs that will be used to pay for Star Wars, and the American people have go to speak up and say we do not want our hard earned tax dollars to be used to create a new arms race in space. "

News of the U.S. push to arm space coincides with this month's United Nations talks in NY to decide the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. David Krieger, President of Santa Barbara’s Nuclear Age Peace Foundation attended the opening days of the conference.

“At this treaty conference most of the countries that are non nuclear are saying 'you nuclear weapons states must stand behind the agreements that you’ve already made, you just can’t walk away from those and say we’re starting over again--that’s not acceptable to us, we want to see progress on your nuclear disarmament commitment and obligation,' and basically
that’s not happening."

The Foundation has most recently worked to raise awareness about what’s been dubbed the military industrial academic complex, the symbiosis between themilitary, high tech, and research industries. There are a number of universities nationwide that are contracted by the government to oversee weapons research. According to the National Science Foundation, John Hopkins University and Pennsylvania State each receive hundreds of millions of dollars
annually. Higher education’s dependence on federal funding for weapons research empowers the department of defense to influence university policies, particularly on the contentious issue of campus military recruitment.

Speaking to students in Santa Barbara, David Krieger describes the University of California's relationship to nuclear weapons production.

“You, all of you at the University of California have a relation to nuclear weapons because your University, the University of California, has provided management and oversight for a United States nuclear lab for the past more than 60 years and continue to do that, so that means that as great as this university may otherwise be, it is complicit in making weapons of mass destruction.”

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has distributed its student published demilitarization guide to schools around the country in an effort to raise awareness of university ties to nuclear arms research and production. Will Parrish is coordinator of the UC Nuclear Free campaign at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is attending the UC regents meeting this week to protest the renewal of a UC contract to manage a nuclear research lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

“This meeting is historic because the UC has never had to competitively bid for he labs… we’ve been organizing against the UC making a competitive bid and not only is it going to enter a bid but it’s going to enter a bid with some of the most notorious corporations in the world.”

The winner of the Los Alamos contract will be decided at the end of this year.

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation online

From free love to free market?

John Tierney of the NYT is in denial once again, this time trying to co-opt John Lennon’s vision of a world without war in his column “Give Peace a Chance.”

He puts forth a caveat which completely devastates his argument—notwithstanding the genocide in Darfur and the occupation of Iraq (which constitute only some the most horrifying examples of violence on the globe), the level of “organized violence” has dropped in recent years. What about “disorganized” violence—manifest in bombings, stemming from social inequality and frustration over U.S. hegemony—the brand of violence the “war on terror” purports to be combating, and so ineptly addresses?

This column is just another one of his desperate attempts to convince people that “freedom is on the march,” similar to his hairbrained notion that the news media is blowing violence in Iraq out of proportion, and that naturally the logical solution is to cease reporting on the violence. Sure, if there’s a war in a forest and there’s no one around to document it, it probably isn’t happening. See no evil, hear no evil--Iraqis are handing soldiers flowers.

Tierney has imbibed Julian Simon and the other irrational cornucopians from Cato. Their favorite argument is essentially that “the globe is a hollow sphere filled with oil, and the dynamic duo of the market and human ingenuity will save us even if we suck it dry.” This makes me want to tear my hair out:

“‘I predict that the incidence of war will decline,’ [Simon] told me in 1996, two years before his death. He based his prediction on the principle that there is less and less to be gained economically from war. As people get richer and smarter, their lives and their knowledge become far more valuable than the land, minerals and natural resources they used to fight over.”

I’ve really come to resent this blind idealism—it’s weakly supported by economic theory that neglects any of the external factors that exist in the real world. “The market will set us free,” “the market will lift all boats”…assuming your boat’s a yacht.

It’s no surprise that conservatives want to maintain the status quo. Representing the wealthier, aristocratic echelons of society, they’re the prime beneficiaries of their own corporate-happy imperialistic tendencies. So of course they would be loath to admit that the war in Eurasia is going poorly and the deregulatory juggernaut is speeding impending environmental disaster. They’re content to remain perched in their ivory towers, handing down regressive, militaristic mandates under the guise of the world’s “benign power,” spouting platitudes as they single-handedly send the world careening towards destruction. I dare say that not even they would be safe from climate change and wars of subsistence over fuel and water.

Conservatives often have popular support because they tell people what they want to hear--take the blue pill, maintain the delusion that everything is peachy.

Progressives want to make changes in policy that will benefit the greatest number in the long term. Change isn’t easy, and neither is admitting the path you're on isn't the best one. Progress requires a critical examination of a situationacknowledging realitythen recognizing the challenges on the road to improvement, and following through. This flies in the face of the ignorance and false ideals of those who would prefer to put on blinders and go on “faith” alone.

This won’t come as a surprise, but we have our work cut out for us. Rather than go soft and centrist, we’ve got to open a can of New Deal era whoop-ass and give Americans an alternative to the lies and false security. We could hardly go wrong if we employed some of our opponent’s aggressive tactics—minus the lying, cheating, and scumbaggery—to not only defend the progressive stance and put forth positive policy, but to dismantle the right, and call them out for what they are: greedy, selfish, short-sighted, stuck in the past, andin the infamous words of John Stewarthurting America.

(side note: expanding the audience a bit--posting diaries on dKos now.)

May 24, 2005

White House press availability? Feh!

Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai invited the White House press corps to a question and answer session yesterday. Everything went well--flowery, grammatically incorrect pontificating business as usual. Only one thing was missing--the press. They had to fill seats with interns--and not even Talk Radio News interns that pretend to be legitimate members of the press (and in some cases are more legit than most)--but White House interns.

Reporters are fed up with Bush's staged substance-free press availabilities and would rather skip it than sit still while Bush speaks and remain a silent, approving audience. One member of the press corps lamented, "since we can't ask questions, why schlep over there?" Please tell me that was Ellen :).

May 23, 2005


"Our nation is the greatest force for good in history."
-President George W. Bush,
Crawford, Texas, August 31, 2002

My grandpa had a birthday on Friday, so I gave him a call (after a little parental prodding). I've unfortunately never been very close to my grandparents, so conversations usually consist of "how's the weather," "how's school," and "do you have a boyfriend/where are my great-grandkids" (okay, maybe not that far). And if I'm talking to the WWII vet grandpa, then I hear about Camp Pendleton and his travels in Asia.

Our usual fluffy conversation took a turn yesterday when he said something about Hitler and Hirohito and their being bent on world domination. Having just finished a book about U.S. militarism and imperialism, I remarked that we were seeing a similar situation today with the war. He took that as a reference to Saddam, not Bush, and he told me "honey, you've got your countries mixed up" when I brought up U.S. sanctions on Iraq to point out some of what the U.S. has done to earn its current reputation. It all became eerily familiar when he said the U.S. was just "trying to help Iraqis find freedom," but that they didn't want or understand freedom, and had their heads in the sand. I tried to explain that democracy can't be imposed, and that there has to be cultural sensitivity, but he seemed to have a pretty narrow view of the Muslim world, that it was backwards and that Americans were smarter because they didn't kill their own people (Oklahoma city? Civil War?).

It was needless to say a pretty exasperating conversation. He's a very liberal guy, and he doesn't trust Bush, so I was pretty shocked and disappointed to hear him spit back the right's rhetoric. The thing is, he was projecting the WWII view of the world onto what's going on today (in the same way that Bush and Rice are taking a Cold War era view). During WWII, the U.S. was justified in taking action, and it was a noble fight. My grandpa's generation deserves to be honored for that. What's going on today in Iraq is illegitimate and is in no way the same battle, and that's something that's misunderstood.

May 20, 2005

Blogging backlog

Been preoccupied with midterms and pitching a story to Free to imporantant blogging business.


-Posada faces deportation, after 2 months of being in the U.S. without government action...the question is whether he'll be sent to Venezuela to face murder charges in connection with the downing of a Cuban airliner. The administration is between a rock and a hard place--concede to Chavez and Castro's wishes, or violate its own policy and harbor a terrorist.

-Senate Democrats charge that Bolton perjured himself, lying about seeking George Tenet's help to discipline a dissenting intelligence officer. Have any democrats pointed out that as UN Ambassador, Bolton, with his petulance and recklessness, would be a threat to national security? Security is an idea that's been co-opted by the right, but for all their talk, security is subverted by hardliner ideology and poor policy and funding.

As for the Newsweek scandal--

FAIR points out:

"Newsweek was right to retract the Quran story--mainly because the magazine claimed to have 'sources' for the information, when Newsweek's subsequent descriptions of how it acquired the story mention only a single source. But it's far from clear that Newsweek's source was inaccurate in saying that U.S. investigators had uncovered abuse of a Quran in the course of a recent investigation; similar allegations have repeatedly been made by former Guantanamo prisoners."

Why denounce government policy that perpetuates an illegal war and human rights violations when you can attack the "liberal media"?

from Alternet:

"It's part of the tried-and-true strategy of demonize, disguise, and divert. Demonize the news media to disguise the real causes of the resistance to occupation and divert attention from failed U.S. policies. The irony is that the U.S. corporate news media deserve harsh criticism for coverage of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- not for possibly getting one fact wrong, but for failing to consistently challenge the illegality of both wars and the various distortions and lies that the Bush administration has used to mobilize support for those illegal wars."

Emphasis on this one incident ignores that broader reality that the riots were more in protest of the U.S. occupation in general, than the specific Koran desecration:

"The frustration with U.S. policy that fuels these demonstrations isn't limited to the Koran incident, and to reduce the unrest to one magazine story is misleading. Indeed, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a news conference last week that the senior commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Carl Eichenberry, reported that the violence 'was not at all tied to the article in the magazine.'"

So I'm sitting listening to panelists at UCSB's 2nd annual Afrogeeks conference, and a speaker just referred us to blogger La Shawn Barber (she's been endorsed by Michelle Malkin, so you know where she's coming from). She puts in her two cents on the defiling of the Koran, noting "why Islam is disrespected" and self-righteously touting the Christian notion that "the words of the Bible are written in the hearts of the believers" and that to have any other belief is absurd:

"Physical objects are not to revered or worshiped, and they hold no 'sacred' power. Islam obviously teaches something entirely different. I think it’s ridiculous for the United States to cater to prisoners of war in this way, no matter what their religion."

Nevermind the fact that many of these prisoners are held without being charged, and without the chance for a fair trial. And even if they are guilty, torture and disregard for cultural sensitivities are still unacceptable and must stop, at the very least out of concern for the U.S. reputation and future of diplomatic relations, if not out of decency and respect for human dignity.